Italy 2014- just beginning

Old May 8th, 2013, 08:22 PM
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Italy 2014- just beginning

Planning a trip 2nd week in June with husband, and 2 sons, 16 and 18 for 10 days. Must do is Rome and Vatican city (we are Catholic) and maybe Tuscany. Not interested in Venice, considering Florence. We would enjoy the countyside...coast or hills, not sure where to go. How crowded will Italy be? Best advice to avoid crowds. Not worried about temp...from Texas. Interested in staying in convents to cut costs in Rome: pros and cons? how early do I need to book lodging?
Favorite guidebooks? Kids are great travelers and it will be there first trip to Europe. We enjoy walking tours, hiking and eating. My boys will try anything. We are not much into nightlife. My sons do enjoy museums/history but not interested in art but interested in Religious art. We enjoy going to daily Mass to see Churches instead of walking thru them: must see Churches? Thanks
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Old May 8th, 2013, 09:57 PM
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If you are just considering Rome and Florence,10 days should be fine.A good 3 days in Florence alone is a must. Theres a lot to see and do.June is peak time for travel and you can expect crowds every where.Its advisable to book the entrances online well in advance so that you'll wont be spending most of your time in unending queues.
The Tuscan countryside is very pretty.There are wonderful villas one could stay in.Frommers and Lonely Planet are great guide books.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 01:49 AM
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Rather than go to Tuscany, you might take a look at going to Umbria so that you can visitAssisi. There are many nice walks in that area you can take, and if you have a car, you can also go rafting on a river. Your kids might also enjoy historic Perugia rather than arty Florence, because it is the wackier medieval town on a mountaintop with escalators running up and down the mountain to move people around. It also gets much fewer crowds and I think has better food, especially if any of you like chocolate.

You don't need a car in Umbria, but it helps. If you don't want to rent a car, than stay in Perugia and use the extensive public transportation to visit Assisi, Spoleto and Orvieto, all of which have spectacular churches.

Something might consider for a 10 day trip is to fly to Rome, spend 5 days there, then visit Umbria. On your way back home, spend your last day close to the Rome airport and go early so you have time to visit Ostia Antica in the afternoon before flying home.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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>

I hope you will also walk through the churches as that's the way you will see their splendor. There are so many beautiful churches that you won't be able to see them all in 10 days. Rather than name all of them I'll direct you to a really good web site put together by one of the posters on this board. You can then choose the ones you want. I would start with the 4 main Basilicas.

You do realize that other than at Santa Suzanna the Mass will be in Italian.

http://passagetoroma.com/index.php/ptr2010

>

The only way to avoid crowds is to avoid the major tourist attractions. Plus, all major cities have crowds as people live and work there. It's not only tourists.

>

You should have booked lodging months ago. I would do it immediately as you only have a month until your trip. The best and least expensive places book early.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 05:04 PM
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I just realized your trip is next year. I would book at the beginning of the year to get the best deals on hotels/convents, etc.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 05:06 PM
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adrienne,

The OP is going to Italy in June of 2014, not next month.

Here's an ongoing thread that lists Fodorite favorite churches in Rome:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...e-churches.cfm
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Old May 9th, 2013, 05:25 PM
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We had a great time going for the Scavi tour at the Vatican (a guided walk through the necropolis underneath the basilica) which gives a really interesting look into the history of the church. I was fascinated by the commentary and some of the early 'pagan' symbols that were co-opted by the early church. On a trivial note, I enjoyed handing my confirmation documents over to the Swiss Guards You can email [email protected] - I think only about 12 people go down in one group.

You can't really avoid crowds, but I would do things like plug into audio tours, get lost in the further corners of museums, show up really early and have the place to myself for the first hour (and gape at the 'must-sees')

I would also consider getting a guide - I know its not for everyone but I found having someone walk us through and point out the (specific) things we were interested in was extremely enlightening especially in a museum as overwhelming as the Vatican. I saw family groups with teens utterly entranced by some of the guides.

...And I second the suggestion on heading to Assisi. It is a short train ride from Rome, and perfect for a day/night as a break between Rome and Florence. I had one of the best meals in Italy, drank waaay too much sangrantino de montefalco, enjoyed walking the streets and poking into churches, and really enjoyed the break from Rome. I found the place particularly spiritual as well - have fond memories sitting on the city walls watching the valley floor spill over with the sunset. We were there in December and possibly one of few tourists who stayed the night - when the mists rolled in in the evening and bells tolling, I honestly thought I was in a movie set.

Just in case - I did 2 weeks in Rome-Assisi- Sienna - Tuscany - Florence before heading on to Venice. Assisi-Sienna-Tuscany were navigated by car and trusty GPS. Did plenty of walks/hikes.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 06:07 PM
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You might consider an apt in Rome if you are on a budget, saves on eating out every meal.

We stayed here with our son and DIL and really liked it. Two bedrooms..you might check convent prices and compare. Right around the corner from Campo dei Fiori. There is a market there daily where you can pick up groceries.

http://www.sleepinitaly.com/rome/cam...ent-balestrari
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Old May 10th, 2013, 03:05 AM
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>>>Not worried about temp...from Texas.>>Interested in staying in convents to cut costs in Rome: pros and cons?>>must see Churches?>>Best advice to avoid crowds.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 04:20 AM
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For a 2 week trip in June, I really would not attempt plan a trip around the notion it will too hot for you to energetically tour the town -- and Rome in June is nowhere near as hot as many parts of Texas in June.

If you cannot do without air conditioning for any more than a few minutes, then of course you need to consider that. But it is not hard to adjust. Rome has plenty of shady streets, breezes and air conditioning if you need it to sleep (it is in a great many restaurants as well). The fountains of Rome help cool the air around them. Carry your own water bottles so you can fill them up at Rome's public taps.

As for crowds, just like in New York City, there are many places to enjoy that are not crowded at all. Best news is that while in New York City you might feel nervous if you find yourself alone, wondering if you are safe, you can enjoy getting away from the crowds in Rome without worry. if you find a spot is too crowded and trying your family's patience just head in some other direction. You'll quickly discover not everything wonderful about Rome is in the guidebooks. You will actually find that mass is rather lightly attended in many truly lovely churches in Rome, and not only that, the churches are often refreshingly cool in June if the sun is beating down outside.

Sounds like your family are great travelers in good health who are open to lots of new experiences. I would plan a trip that makes the most of your time there. If you get a heat wave that is even intolerable for you, change plans, just as you would in a bad rainstorm. But zillions of people go to Rome in June, do plenty of outdoor sightseeing, shrug off whatever heat there is, and they have a great time.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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Here is a trip report from a family that went to Rome and other parts of Italy in JULY and had a great time. It was hot, but they were prepared for that, and they interspersed sightseeing with cool fun breaks. The only time the heat bothered them was when they realized too late that the time to take an open-roof bus tour of Rome was not the middle of the afternoon, when the sun was high in the sky. Their trip was 8 years ago, when there was actually less air con in Italy than there is now.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
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Old May 12th, 2013, 07:31 PM
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So far we have decided Rome for 4 days, and then Assasi, Umbria, and would love to head to the coast. My husband is interested in renting a car when we leave Rome. Any advice?

I do understand in Rome we will encounter crowds but would like to enjoy smaller town, with quiet hikes/walks. Most of our vacations are very active and we enjoy hiking-but don't want my entire vacation to be elbow to elbow with people.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 02:08 AM
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We always use http://www.auto-europe.com for renting our cars. I would take the train to maybe Orvieto - have lunch and then drive from there to Assisi just so you dont have to drive in Rome.

Expect alot of crowds in Assisi in the historic centre during the day as its included in alot of bus tours and catholics flock to the church of St Francis. It is a lot quieter at night and early morning.

The east coast of Italy is not really picturesque in my view. It is covered in beach resorts - ie loungers on a pay beach where if you dont pay you cant even get to the water. Not my idea of fun.

Where or what would you like to do on the coast?
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Old May 13th, 2013, 02:10 AM
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Oh and if you are driving in Italy you need to get an International Driving Permit from AA - I think they cost about $15
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Old May 13th, 2013, 03:07 AM
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You're cramming in a lot in 10 days. It will take you some time to pick up the rental car and get out of Rome. Assisi will take a day; you'll want to see the basilica and St. Francis's grotto and cave and walk the grounds around it as they are tranquil.

Tuscany and Umbria are regions, not towns and are quite large. I'm still unclear if you are interested in viewing the artwork in churches or only want to go for Mass and then leave. If you want to look at spectacular churches then Orvieto is a definite place to go and please do see the chapel that has limited access. When I went the tickets were free before 10:00 (pickup from the tourist office across from the church).

Which coast and why are you going to the coast? Perhaps the east coast for the mosaics in Ravenna? Or are you interested in beaches?

What type of hiking? The area around Rome is mostly rolling hills, suitable for walking but not what I would call hiking. How many days do you want to spend hiking?

If you want to take walks I thought the area around Pienza was just lovely and although I went in May there were few tourists around. It will be dry in June so you'll have missed most of the green landscape but I loved the cyprus trees and farmhouses on the landscape.

I agree with AutoEurope which is a consolidator rather than a rental company. They offer lots of choices of cars and pickup/drop off locations. The Italian Touring Club maps are great.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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We prefer to attend Mass, and then see the artwork and walk Churches. It's been a tradition for our family when we travel: we have attended Mass in German, Latin, French, Czech, Spanish and would like to add Italian. My kids already asked if we would attend Mass in St Peters. We won't attend Mass in each Church but would like to attend Mass at St. Francis and Mass I have been known to wake up early enjoy Mass with the locals.

We would like to take at least one hike on a trail and enjoy the scenary. I know Umbria (or maybe another area) is a large area but would like to find a town as a base and drive the countryside and small towns. Our plan was to spend a night in Assasi to enjoy the area after the tour busses leave. I know my family will enjoy Rome but don't want to make that our only desination. We are a water loving family and thought the kids would enjoy a change in scenary. I original wanted to go Cinque Terre.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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Florence will be very crowded in high summer. Given your preferences, I'd skip it.

If you want to go the the west coast of Italy, consider flying out of Pisa. If you do an open jaws trip, into Rome, out of Pisa, it should cost about the same as round-trip to Rome, and you save time and money spent backtracking. (Open jaws is the multi-city option on airline web sites.)

10 days isn't much, so you'll want to be as efficient as possible. If you can squeeze extra days, it would be better. One thing: you must be in the city of your departure or VERY close the night before you leave.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 01:49 PM
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For hikes and walks in Umbria, study Bill Thayer's website.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...a/walking.html

For churches and religious sites, you might also like to peruse this website:

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/sacred-sites

If you want to have some water time but also hope to avoid the summer crowds, I'd just stay in a countryside property that has a nice pool. The process of getting from Rome to Assisi and renting a car at some point will take a half-day. Driving from Assisi to, say, Vernazza would take a half-day minimum.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 06:23 AM
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The must-see Churches in Rome ( apart from St Peter's) are

San Paolo Fuori Le Mura ( Saint Paul outside the walls): you don't want to miss this one, which you can reach by the B metro line.
San Giovanni in Laterano ( Saint John Latheran)
Santa Maria Maggiore ( Saint Mary Major)
and of course there are MANY other gorgeous Churches in Rome ( Santa Maria in Trastevere for instance) but those I listed above definitely are the must-see.
Consider the Milan Duomo (For instance if you consider going to Cinque Terre , or to the lake districts or other areas of northern Italy you can go to Milan and visit the Duomo.)Anyway, you'll find beautiful Churches in any city or town in Italy. Visiting the little town of Assisi,in central Italy, would also make sense as that is the town Saint Francis of Assisi is from . Of course, as JAMIKINS has suggested, there is the beautiful Saint Francis Basilica there, but if you go to Assisi, don't forget visiting the Santa Maria degli Angeli Church which is not up the hill but which you can reach by bus from the centre of Assisi ( it takes 10 minutes)
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