Italy 9 Days in December/Itinerary Help

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Nov 19th, 2017, 09:36 AM
  #1
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Italy 9 Days in December/Itinerary Help

Greetings

First time travel to Italy Dec 16-26. Flying in and out of Rome.
Dad traveling with my two teens, 16 boy/14 girl. We enjoy fast paced
vacations, walking, museums, architecture, shopping, restaurants, culture, sightseeing, etc.

Would like to spend at least 4 days in Rome. Would also like to see
Florence/Siena and Venice.

Tentative itinerary:

12/17 3:20pm arrive in Rome/Train to Florence
12/18 Florence
12/19 Siena day trip/Train to Venice
12/20 Venice
12/21 Train to Rome
12/22 Rome
12/23 Rome/Ostia Antica
12/24 Rome/Vatican
12/25 Rome
12/26 Depart Rome at 3:40pm

Willing to leave off something if it is too ambitious.

Questions:
-How much time should be allocated to Vatican and Ostia Antica?
-Is Ostia Antica worthwhile given time constraints?
-Could a day trip to Amalfi replace Ostia Antica?
-Is a day trip to Siena worthwhile at the expense of another full day in Venice?
-Open to starting off in Venice is that makes more sense. Just figured we'd get to
enjoy some of the evening of 12/17 by staying in Florence first.

-Most important question is whether Venice or Florence/Siena should be scratched all together?
I understand weather in Venice could be the least favorable.

-Also would appreciate any suggestions on accommodations in these places.
Budget is flexible.

Thanks in advance!
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Nov 19th, 2017, 10:09 AM
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If you visit Siena as a day trip from Florence, and then proceed to Venice the same day, you'll spend most of your day traveling. You'll have to return to Florence to get the train to Venice, so you could leave your bags at the left luggage facility in the Florence train station. I would think it better to spend that night in Florence and depart for Venice early in the morning. If that's not practical, maybe you should drop Siena.

The 24th is not a good day to visit the Vatican. First of all, it's a Sunday, so the Vatican Museums will be closed. Also, there is a very large celebration in the Basilica on Christmas Eve, so the Basilica will be off limits most of the day (maybe all day). Because there are three days in a row when the Museums will be closed (the 24th, 25th, and 26th) I would expect them to be unbearably crowded on the other days. If you're dying to see the Sistine Chapel, your best bet would be to go to the Vatican Museums in the afternoon of the 21st or 22nd.

St. Peter's Square is very festive at Christmas, although crowded, and you might just visit the square, after dark to enjoy the lights. The Basilica opens at 7 AM at this time of year, and if you can get there that early, you should be able to get in without waiting in a queue. So, really, my advice would be to visit the Square in the evening, maybe after the Museums if you can't resist braving the crowds. Then, if you want to see the Basilica, to got there early one morning, any morning really, other than the 24th.

Obviously, the 25th is Christmas, when virtually everything in Rome (and in all of Italy) will be closed. There are usually plenty of restaurants open.

Ostia Antica is one of my favorite places in Rome. I could happily spend all day there. If the weather is not good, you might want to do something else instead. There are many great archaeological sites and museums in Rome.

A day trip to the Amalfi Coast isn't practical; you'd spend most of the day traveling.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 10:14 AM
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..also just reading up on Orvieto as a great day trip from Rome.
So would also consider that instead of Ostia Antica.

Amalfi seems unrealistic for a day trip.

Thanks again.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 10:30 AM
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bvlenci.....thank you so much. Very helpful!

I've crossed Siena off.

Also intersted in your opinion of Orvieto vs Ostia Antica?
Are both advisable as separate part day trips or is that
taking too much time away from enjoying Rome?

Thanks!
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Nov 19th, 2017, 10:36 AM
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also..given many places will be closing for Christmas, is it
advisable to rent an apt in Rome and prepare more meals there?
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Nov 19th, 2017, 12:49 PM
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The great things about day trips is that you can leave the decision to how you feel when you're there.

I really don't know how to compare Orvieto and Ostia Antica. They're completely different.

Orvieto is a typical Umbrian hill town, with a beautiful Gothic duomo, and several things that might interest your kids. First of all, when you get off the train, you take a funicular railway up to the town on the hilltop. (We drove there, and didn't take the funicular, but it sounds like something kids would enjoy.)

Then there is an "underground tour", which I've never taken, so I can't describe it from personal experience. Basically, in Orvieto there are many man-made grottoes underneath the street level, carved from the soft tufo rock over the centuries as storage spaces or passageways. The tour takes you through some of these grottoes.

Finally, the Well of St. Patrick (Pozzo di San Patrizio) has a rather ornate double helix staircase that you can take down to the bottom and back up on a different stairway. This was designed so that mules could bring water to the surface without being distracted by their brother mules who were on the way down. In Orvieto you can get some good Umbrian food, and there shops selling the typical pottery of the region.

Orvieto might be the best choice if it rains, because there are some things to see or do indoors. It might also somewhat make up for not visiting Siena.

Ostia Antica is one of the largest ancient sites in Italy. It's even bigger than Pompeii. There you can see an ancient Roman city, which was the port of Rome in ancient times. It's actually part of Rome, and you can get there with a simple bus ticket, changing from bus to metro to urban train, all for €1.50. You get off the metro at Piramide, and follow the signs for the Ostia train, without leaving the station. If you leave you would need to buy a new ticket to take the train. When you get off the train, it's a short walk to the archaeological site, and it's well marked.

In Ostia Antica, you can see the well-preserved remains of houses, apartment buildings, and a Roman theatre (which is still sometimes used for concerts in the summer). I took my adolescent nieces there, and they loved it. They especially liked the ancient Roman bar, where they took turns taking photos standing behind the bar, under the mosaic that showed various foods.

They also loved the ancient Roman public toilet, with side-by-side seats. (One side was for women and the other for men.) You can see the grooves worn in the stone by the swinging door. There is a channel running in front of the seats. Sea water ran in this channel. When you entered, you took a sponge on a stick from a basin of sea water. Instead of toilet paper, you dipped the sponge in the channel of water. On the way out, you deposited the sponge in a a basin (maybe the same one?)

There's a small museum on the site of Ostia Antica, and a sort of fast-food-style restaurant. Other than that, it's almost entirely out of doors. When I took my nieces, we got caught in a downpour, and spent half an hour in the restaurant, along with about 200 other people. Other than that, the site is never crowded, because it's so large. We often feel as though we're the only people there, brought back in time 2000 years. (I've been there four times, and hope to have future visits.)

http://ostia-antica.org/

You know your kids, and maybe these descriptions will help you understand which they would enjoy most. The visit to Ostia Antica might not take a whole day, because it's right in Rome, about half an hour from the center. However, there are also many, many things to see and do in central Rome. It all depends on your interests, and those of your kids.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 01:04 PM
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Christmas Day is the time when almost everything is closed in Rome. On Christmas Eve and on the 26th, almost everything is open, other than at the Vatican. Public transportation stops running earlier than usual on the 24th, and is on a holiday schedule on the 26th. On the 25th, it's very limited, and the metro closes down altogether for several hours in the afternoon. I would plan to walk nearly everywhere that day. There are many interesting things you can see just walking the streets of Rome.

I've never been in Rome on Christmas Day, but people who have report that it's not hard to find a place to eat. Some restaurants serve big Christmas dinners, which have to be reserved in advance, and which have a fixed menu and fixed price. Others have an a la carte menu but still have to be reserved in advance. Others still, mostly informal restaurants, are available on a walk-in basis. There are some cafeteria-style restaurants open in Termini station. If you want to eat out, I would find a restaurant near where you're staying in the days ahead of Christmas, that will be open on the 25th.

Whether to stay in an apartment is your own choice. I myself am not enthusiastic about cooking meals and washing dishes when I'm on holiday. We did that in London for Christmas one year, where there truly wasn't anything open. I would have chosen to eat out if it had been a possibility.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 01:07 PM
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You really only have 8 sightseeing days. You'll have a couple of hours on your departure day to walk around Rome before you need to head to the airport.

It's hard to tell because you don't give much background, but I think you're underestimating the time you'll want/need to explore Florence, Venice and Rome, especially Rome where many sights will be closed on Christmas (and the Vatican Museums on other days) and overall because it will be dark before 5:00p.

I wouldn't decide on any day trips until you get there and see what 'free' time, if any, you feel you have to spend away from Florence and Rome.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 01:09 PM
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Orvieto vs Ostia Antica

bvlenci has said it all

my opinion having seen both - Ostia Antica would be easier - could take only a half-day as it is a short metro ride from Rome and I think seeing a Pompeii-like place may be more interesting to kids than Orvieto (though the Underground Orvieto tours mentioned above could be neat - neither did I do those - but Orvieto is yes a wonderful hill town but farther away from Rome and bigger would take all of a day.

I'd leave your original itinerary in place except the Siena day trip and Venice same day - not practical.

Now booking trains - the trains Rome-Florence - then to Venice and back to Rome you can book on your own and if early enough snatch limited in number discounted tickets- at www.trenitalia.com or www.italotreno.com - two competing rail companies using same tracks and stations - discounted tickets are non-changeable non-refundable I believe so like when training to Florence after flying in and taking airport train to Rome and changing to train to Florence be sure, if discounted tickets, to leave plenty of time for plane to be late or just book a full-fare ticket upon arrival at airport train station (so many trains can always get on I think) - for lots on booking your own trains check www.seat61.com - for general info on trains also www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Venice is awesome - I'd keep it but don't need to stay more than 2 nights.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 01:47 PM
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bvlenci...excellent background on Ostia Antica and Orvieto.
Both sound very fun.

Jean..good advice on waiting to see the free time we have.

PalenQ. Agree, definitely dropping Siena. Will give more time in Venice.
Thanks for the info on trains. Very helpful!
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Nov 19th, 2017, 01:50 PM
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Oh about trains -discounts only on higher-speed trains but none on regional trains like you might take to Orvieto - those just buy at stations - flat dirt cheap fare no reason to book in advance as no seat reservations possible and regional trains booked online may have restrictions those bought on day of travel do not. But for all those other trains significant discounts can be had.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 02:47 PM
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Great! Thank you PalenQ

Does anyone have any opinions on staying near Campo de' Fiori
vs Centro Storico/Pantheon?

Looking at some apts near Campo de' Fiori. The proximity to markets,
restaurants, night life looks appealing.
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Nov 19th, 2017, 06:46 PM
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think the itinerary is really good. Venice Rome and Florence are my 3 must in Italy. and they have plenty little day /half day trip you can make. If you are in Venice you can visit murano and Burano which are amazing. Also you can go to Verona, Treviso, padova. really nice to visit
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Nov 19th, 2017, 07:26 PM
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Thank you bussa17. Is Verona an easy detour on the way from Venice to Rome
to spend a couple of hours in the city center?
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Nov 20th, 2017, 06:48 AM
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Going Venice to Rome directly is 4 hours. Verona isn't on the train line between the two, so it would be an actual detour. About 1.5 hours to Verona, 3.5-4 hours to Rome, plus time to check and retrieve your luggage. And you lose one of your Rome days that isn't impacted by Christmas.

http://www.grandistazioni.it/cms/v/i...003f16f90aRCRD
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Nov 20th, 2017, 06:54 AM
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Verona is not an easy detour, especially with your limited time. Anyway, there is much, much more to see in Rome, Florence and Venice.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 07:25 AM
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Does anyone have any opinions on staying near Campo de' Fiori
vs Centro Storico/Pantheon?


They're so close to each other that it makes little difference. I might have a slight preference for the Campo de'Fiori location as long as you don't stay too close to the Campo, which can be noisy at night, but probably much less so in December. In general the area south/west of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is less packed with tourists than the area above that street.

If you're looking at specific places, it would help to give us the address, because one street can be very different from another.

We recently stayed in a room with kitchenette, near Campo de'Fiori, managed by www.bolloapartments.com . Our room was on Via dei Pellegrini, which is a very nice little street. Not all of their rooms are on the same street, but all are in the same area. Like most apartments, they require that you pick up the keys at their office, which is a minor inconvenience. There was a room cleaning service one of the days we were there, which is better than some other apartments. They had all of the necessary things (toilet paper, hand soap, dish detergent) but no shampoo or other personal toiletry items. I have rented apartments where there were lacking necessary items. I would look for reviews before choosing a particular apartment. Bollo Apartments are also on www.booking.com , where you can see reviews. Just put "Bollo Apartments, Rome" in the search box.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 09:00 AM
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Jean and Sassafrass..thanks.. good advice on skipping Verona.

Bvlenci..thanks for your thoughts on Campo.
Just rented a 2 bed apt overlooking the square
for 5 nights. Unlike some other apts I looked
at noise was not an issue for any of the guests.
Very good reviews. Looking forward to staying
there.

Now to find lodging in Florence and Venice
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Nov 20th, 2017, 11:10 AM
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Bologna is on the train line Venice to Rome - tough to relocate for one night but easy to put bags in station luggage storage (assuming there is one but check) and wandering a few hours around this really neat old town.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 02:44 PM
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There is luggage storage at the Bologna Centrale station. It's about a 20-25 minute walk from the station to the main piazza, so about an hour of your time in Bologna would be checking/retrieving luggage and walking to/from the historical center.

But rather than just wander another city, I'd research Bologna to see if the things you would/could see and do there outweigh your sightseeing interests in Rome or Venice. IOW, are you willing to forego things in either Venice or Rome just to stop in Bologna for a few hours?
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