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Help with Itinerary for Italy trip w/kids

Help with Itinerary for Italy trip w/kids

Nov 12th, 2005, 08:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 30
Help with Itinerary for Italy trip w/kids

I am trying to figure out an itinerary for our first family trip out of the country. It will be me, my husband and 2 girls (15 and 8). We are flying into and out of Rome (no choice), leaving on June 22 and coming back July 6th, giving us about 12 days worth of seeing things. We would like to spend at least 5 or 6 days in Rome, but are unsure what to do with the balance. I would like to go to Venice, but can't figure out if we have the time to also go to another city (my husband would love to go to Pompeii) or might be better off ONLY going to another city that is closer, since Venice is a 5 hour trip each way and we need to leave from Rome. As this is our first venture, I really have no idea what the tolerance level of the kids (okay, and my husband) will be for crowds, heat, and more than a few museums. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, any hotel suggestions that would work for a family, has a/c, and is close to the major sights or good transportation (we won't be renting a car)would be great. Thanks so much!
esklader is offline  
Nov 12th, 2005, 08:25 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Hello esklader, what a fun time your family will have!!

In that your husband would like to visit Pompeii have you thought about possibly going to Sorrento for some nights. You could go to Pompeii and also visits places along the Amalfi Coast. I would think your daughters would really love this to, mine certainly did. It is so beautiful. And Sorrento would be a relaxing place to stay in after being in Rome (which I love!).
LoveItaly is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 12:25 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 541
esklader - My wife, kids (17 year old daughter and 15 and 11 year old sons), and I spent two weeks in Italy in June. We included stops in Rome and Venice. You can find my trip report at:

I also recommend jgg's trip report, as it was very helpful to me: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34599242.
MRand is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 03:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 531
Two years ago we went to Italy at the same time with our children (their first time out of the country). We did the Cinque Terra, Rome, Florence and Venice. Due to time constraints we were going to skip Florence (since it would only be one night), but I won out and glad that we did. Here was our experience in each town:

Rome: My kids were a little overwhelmed in Rome by all the action. They loved the city and all its sights, but after 4 days the sights and sounds started getting to them. Since you know your children's temperment, you might want to consider this. In Rome we stayed at the Hotel Alimandi which is right next to the Vatican. www.alimandi.org. It is a simple hotel, but cheap with good service and a nice breakfast at the rooftop garden. We had booked a quad, but when we arrived they gave us two adjoining rooms for the same price (a better deal for us.). They had ac that worked well and a small exercise room. Rick Steves tour group was at the hotel with us. It is near the metro, but we mainly took cabs or walked in Rome. The hotel was great at getting us tickets to the Papal Audience (which I highly recommend).

For Rome, the best decision we made was to hire an all-day tour guide for Ancient Rome. We used Daniella Hunt (you can google her name for her tour company). We met her at the Colusseium, toured there, the Roman Forum, lunch at a great trattoria, and more touring. She gaged her tour to keep the kids attention.

We then drove to Florence. By the way we had no trouble driving around Italy with our kids. By the time we factored in train tickets for 4, it was cheaper for us to drive. (The Alimandi had free parking for our car.) I am glad we stayed in Florence even if only for one night. We stayed at the Marignolle Relais & Charme (got the hotel through Karen Brown.com-she writes reviews of hotels etc.) We were glad we stayed there because our kids needed a break from the "city." The hotel is about 10 minutes from downtown florence and has a lovely setting. Our children loved (and by that time needed) the pool. So when we got to Florence, we let them swim for two hours and then headed into the city to see some sights. With traveling with children to Italy, the best tip I can give you is to schedule some downtime with activities that they like to do. For example we would do a museum in the morning, and then let them pick an afternoon activity (each child had a day to select what they wanted to do).

Our children loved Venice so it would be difficult for me to tell you not to visit Venice. We stayed at the Hotel Antico Doge which we loved. Another tip we found useful is that our hotels were not in the center of all the action but 5-10 blocks away (still within walking distance). Sometimes the noise got to them and the hotel locatio helped to "calm" them down. We still were close to the sights, but just not in the center. Plus our kids loved being able to walk out the door to buy pasteries etc.

For children it is important to prebook your tours and buy museum cards offered in the city (allows you to avoid lines. With the internet and the help of the hotels, we had restaurant reservations prebooked, museum tours prebooked and other activites (plays, concerts etc. ) prebooked. It is amazing what you can accomplish with the internet that makes traveling so much easier. We left room for being spontaneous in our schedule, but at least in each city had a few nights of meals/activities prebooked so that it gave us a gameplan to our day. Kids like some structure in traveling and it helps them enjoy the trip more. Another family traveled part of the time with us and they had nothing planned and you could see on their kids faces how much they were not enjoying the trip. Every day would start out with a "what are we going to do today" speech for these kids and you could see a lot of time was wasted.

Final suggestions for traveling with kids in Italy.
1. Always get the audio tour for them if available. Allows you to looks at things without always have to explain everything to them and also allows them to play with buttons. By the end of our trip our kids were explaining paintings to us.
2.Each day write out a card that has your name, hotel info, address phone number etc. on it and put it in the pocket of your child's clothes. Our son got lost for over an hour at the end of the papal audience (in his excitement of seeing the pope he ran out of the audiotorium and my husband "claimed" to have him in sight only to findout we were following the wrong child.!! On that particular day my son forgot to put the card in his pocket because he switch to long pants as required. When the Swiss Guard and Italian police asked him where he was staying, he had no idea. Better to be safe rather than sorry.
3. Have your girls read books or watch movies etc. about Italy. (Roman Holiday, Room with a View etc.) Your daughter may love the book "Zoe Sophia's Venice Scrapbook." Our daughter loved that book and insisted we follow the itinerary (which worked out well for us) in Venice. Reading gives them some familiarity with what they will be seeing and makes a great connection. I simply went on Amazon and found books (mainly stores set in the same city) or books about artists or works of art.

Sorry for going on so long, but with children the amount of preparation you put into it really makes a difference and in turn everyone in the family is happy. Have a great time, itsv.
itsv is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 03:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 96
Italy is one of my favorite places to visit and a great choice. I don't think you necessarily need 5 or 6 days in Rome-its a great city, but if you want to go elswhere you can definitley cut that a little shorter. I love Venice, it's one of my favorite cities and a place you shouldn't miss. If you want to leave out Pompeii (which i've never been to so i can't say) you could start in Rome, travel north to Venice and then, if you wanted to do something else different from a city you could go to the Lake region (Lake Como is supposed to be magnificent) which is also right near Milan, so you could get that in as well. Hope that helped-have a great time!
daniella82 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 08:34 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 30
Thank you all for your advice. I appreciate the great information. I had two more questions as I try to narrow our choices...I noticed we will be there during Il Palio in Siena. Has anyone done that? Would it make sense to do that somewhere in the middle? Also, I read that June 29th is a very religious holiday and a lot of things shut down. Does anyone know if that includes transportation and if that is primarily in Rome or all of Italy? Thanks again!
esklader is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,660
Hi Esklader,
We took our kids to Italy for about the same time and during the same period. (They were 11 and 14) It wasn't that hot, thankfully, and not as crowded as we thought it would be. Here are some tips we thought helped.

1. If you could skimp elsewhere and splurge for private guides in Rome and Florence, it will make all the difference to your kids. It will bring history to life, and... it has the added bonus of keeping the whining down to a minimum as they are always better behaved with a "teacher" than with their own parents.

2. I agree with the previous poster about audioguides in museums and books/movies before you leave. This really helped our children get excited about where we were going and what they were seeing.

3. Our whole family loved-loved-loved Venice. It's truly unlike anything you've seen before. It would be shame to miss it.

4. We did short stays in Venice and Florence, then had a longer relaxing stay in the Tuscan countryside where we had a pool, kitchen, etc. It helps to have a car with kids, too, becuase it makes it more of an adventure to navigate the roads and it allows you to stop if you see something interesting. Then we ended in Rome.

5. Oh, and equally important... We had gelato at least once a day and tried to keep track of how many flavors we tasted throughout the trip.

Have a great trip! Italy is amazing. I have wanted to go back since the minute we left.
dina4 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 33
The one thing no one seems to have mentioned (and has helped us greatly) is get your kids involved. What would they like to see? Get some books and videos to help them with some ideas and allow them to help plan the trip. Also, be flexible. Our kids (2 boys) loved the Vatican museum (those old paintings have more blood and gore than your average slasher movie!) we had to adjust our schedule to stay longer in the museum than we had intended, but it was worth it. Finally, as a previous poster noted, everything goes better with gelato!
dacwi is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,215
Hi esklader,

What a wonderful trip you will have! I do think you have time for a quick trip to Venice if you decide you'd like to go. My family loved Venice and it is a nice contrast to Rome.

Pompeii might be VERY hot that time of year which may influence your decision to visit depending on how much you like the heat. I haven't visited there during the summer, but I'm sure others on this forum have. You might do a search or post a second question to see how tolerable it would be.

The Palio in Siena is an amazing experience that is not for the faint of heart. The race itself only lasts a few minutes but the parades, costumes, pre-race trials and excitement leading up to the race are a great part of the event. On race day itself, one either needs to stand for quite a few hours in a very large crowd or pay for very expensive, hard to obtain, seats. My concern would be that your youngest child probably wouldn't be able to see much at all and could get quite hot and tired.

If you will be in Siena the day before the race, that would be a great day to see the pre-trial race (no tickets needed and much smaller crowds) and view spontaneous parading and singing in the streets. On race day itself, you could again see more parading in the streets (great medieval cosutmes)but might prefer to watch the race from a comfortable hotel lobby. Be sure to watch the movie (shown in town in English) about the Palio or pick up a guide book that explains it as that will help you understand what it is all about.

I second the recommendation for the Hotel Alimandi as my family really enjoyed our stay there.

Hope this helps!
KathrynT is offline  
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