italy family travel

Feb 7th, 2009, 09:17 AM
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italy family travel

We are a family of 5 looking to tour italy bottom to top, Sicily to Turin. 30 days June 20-July 20, no organized large tours. Accomodation simple. Any suggestions on transport means and accomodation, websites etc.Help, please!
italia5 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Hi It,

Train schedules are at

ira is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 09:29 AM
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With 5 of you and luggage you will want a van, which will be a manual shift--is that a problem. I would fly into Milan and home from Rome and consider the Kemwell Peuguot buy back program--may save you $$$.
Accommdation references are best at by area. is also good but may drive you crazy with too many choices.
Good luck !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 10:56 AM
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I've heard of parking and driving nightmares in Italy. With 3 kids I am thinking rail? I am having problems with hotel accomodation with the three kids, oldest 14 youngest 8. Any suggestions, thanks
italia5 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 11:29 AM
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You must have some idea of what you hope to see in your 30 days. It's difficult for us to advise you because your question is so broad and we don't know your interests. We would love to advise you. Why do you want to go to Italy? You must have some idea. Do you like museums? art? hiking? beaches? shopping? that kind of thing.

Parking and driving nightmares are in major cities where a car is useless as well. Once you have an idea of where you're planning to go, with such a good amount of time, it's a good idea to plan for part of your time by train and part of your time by car, grouping each mode of transport as seems best.

For example, it's probably a good idea to have car in Sicily. You won't want a car in Rome nor Florence, so train between the two. But if you plan to tour in Tuscany, you'll want a car for that portion of the trip since it's the best way to visit small towns.

Also, how old are your children? Knowing their ages might help with some recommendations. Some hotels do have "Family" rooms.

ellenem is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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We took a long trip to Italy 2 yrs ago - family of 4 with kids 12 & 14. From city to city we used trains exclusively. For a week + in Tuscany we rented a car. I'd recommend a minivan for 5 of you.

Just about everywhere we stayed we used apartments (all but 2-3 nights) and they worked out far better than hotels for us. For 30d on the road we really appreciated the ability to the room an apartment provides as well as kitchen.

We ate breakfasts every day at the apt at our leisure. We kept snacks and lunch fixins and either ate at the apt if we were nearby or made a picnic to go. It wasn't our original plan, but we actually ended up eating dinner IN about 1 out of 2 or 3 nights. That let us save money for better dinners out on odd nights, cook some of our at home comfort food, or just hang out if we had a busy day.

Each of our apartments also had a washing machine which was invaluable - we packed just enough for 1 week and washed stuff every once in a while.

For a trip that long I also recommend a week or so in the country - Tuscany & Umbria are both great. The kids really appreciated a place with a pool. They were able to hang out and read and have a vacation from our vacation if you will. is a great place to start to look for apartment rentals in the cities and podere (farm house), agritourism or villa rentals in the countryside.
J62 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 11:59 AM
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Here goes....

We wish to start in Sicily(Fly in from London or Rome connector) See Etna and Ruins 3 days,then to Calabria(cozensa) to stay a week with relatives. Off to Naples and Pompeii(2-3 days) North to Rome 3-4 days. Then to florence/ pisa(3 days) and Venice for 3 days stopping in Assissi. Bozano I have relatives 3 days then off to Milan 3 days with a trip to turin(day trip?)

We have 2 girls 12, 14 and an 8 year old boy. I have had this trip priced through Gap adventures with a private driver for $4000 CDN $3200 US. Plus airfare. I think that is high seeing it is only 20 days hotel and don't know if I want to go that way.

Not sure if I should base somewhere and daytrip? Am I missing something that the kids would like? We like to hike, history/art,culture, food, Beach time but not much in the North. Our kids like to be on the go, in Hawaii we visited all islands except Maui in a 2 weeks and travelling across Canada and the states aside from relatives we never stayed in the same spot more than 2 days .

Thanks for listening
italia5 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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I totally agree with the train rather than going with a van. My husband, three kids and I did a similar trip in Spain a few years back and rented a van - it was a pain. Parking, trying to back down teeny alleys in small towns, etc, made me wish we had chosen differently. We did get to see a lot of the countryside but you'll see that from the train too.
PennyP is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Thanks for the details. Now people will be able to advise on specific accommodations along the way.

<<I have had this trip priced through Gap adventures with a private driver for $4000 CDN $3200 US. Plus airfare. >>
What does that include? For all 5 people?
ellenem is offline  
Feb 7th, 2009, 04:46 PM
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You say you've previously done trips at a similar pace. I'll take your word for it, but this itinerary would not be enjoyable for me.

Just a couple of comments:

If your primary reason for going to Naples is to visit Pompeii, I'd only stay two nights. You can explore Naples on the afternoon of your arrival. Add the optional night to Rome.

Assisi is not a logical stop between Florence and Venice. It would make more sense to travel from Rome to Assisi, spend the night, and then continue on to Venice. Go to Florence before Milan.

I think you'll want a rented car/van for Bolzano.

I like Milan a lot, but I'd take one day from Milan and add it to Rome or Florence.

Jean is online now  
Feb 7th, 2009, 08:58 PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I think I am ruling out driving pennyp, for your reason exactly. Ellenem Gap trip was per person for hotels and being driven to cities, no admissions. I was thinking 3 days might be to much for naples but not sure, Rome might be better to extend. Any one with any further suggestions? This is great!
italia5 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 04:45 AM
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My family probably doesn't like to move around quite as much as it sounds like your's does, but for our trip to Italy in 2002, we spent a couple of weeks at a villa just outside Cortona in Tuscany and did day trips from there, then train to Venice for a few days. The kids were able to hang out at the villa, swim in the pool, walk to Cortona for gelato, and we were able to do day trips to Assisi, Florence, Pisa, etc. It was very relaxing to have a nice "home base" from which to adventure out.
PennyP is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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Wow. So if I understand your posts, it is $20,000 plus airfare for the five of you, plus meals and entertainment?

I have two kids, which makes a big difference as we can still book one room, and you will need two hotel rooms or an apartment. HOWEVER, we spent about $7500C total (air not included, but all hotels, meals and entertainment in) for 2.5 weeks in the south of France two summers ago. That included a car rental for the entire time.

Unless you really want that driver, or budget is no concern at all, you can do much, much better on your own.

If you decide to skip Gap, when I look at your itinerary it looks to be a lot of schlepping using public transit. You will lose a fair amount of time, and perhaps goodwill from the rest of the family when moving as much as you have planned. Some trips are better with no car, some with a car. We had no car for our London/Paris and Berlin/Prague trips. The south of France would not have been the same trip without a car. We got to drive off to caves and castle ruins that we never would have otherwise been able to reach.

We will travel to Europe again this summer - 9 days in the Netherlands and Belgium, 10 days in the northern half of Italy. We will visit Amsterdam for 3 days, then rent a car for the following 6. We will pick up a car in Milan for a week to visit Tuscany, and then drop it off in Venice before we visit for three days (then leave).

We have had no problem with a car in cities in Europe, BUT we do not choose to stay in the centre of the city. We stay closer to the highway in Holiday Inn Express and Novotel hotels (which have rooms for 4 and are much less expensive), and take shuttles or public transit into the cities. It works very well for us.

Just wanted to give you another perspective on the car and pricing parts of your trip.
poutine is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 05:13 AM
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hi italia5,

when planning a trip like this, i like to set it out in tabular form to start off with, thus:

Sicily 3 days

Calabria a week with relatives.

Naples and Pompeii - 2/3 days)

Rome -3-days

florence/ pisa(3 days)

Venice for 3 days via Assissi.

Bozano I have relatives 3 days

Milan 3 days with daytrip to turin

now you can put that on a spreadsheet and start working out prices, so you can compare the quote you have from GAP with other options. [if it includes car, driver, petrol, 20 days' hotel for 5 people for U$3200 it works out at U$ 160 per day - how are you going to beat that?]

make sure you compare like with like eg add in buses/taxis that you might need if you are going by train, but ignore meals and admission to attractions like pompeii as they are the same whichever way you travel.

as for your intinerary, IMHO you are dotting around too much after you leave Calabria.

assuming you haven't already booked your flights, I would do the following:

Sicily - 3 days

Calabria - a week. [does this mean 5 or 7 days?]

Naples and Pompeii - 2-3 days

Rome - 6 days - an apartment?.
[?day trip to Assissi, which is bewteeen Rome and Florence, not between Florence and Venice!]

florence/ pisa - 6 days - suggest an agritourismo or other self-catering, with day trips.

Bozano I have relatives 3 days

Venice for 3 days

Fly home.

i would miss out Milan and turin - they don't offer anything very different from the other places you are visiting.

hope this helps,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 06:07 AM
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I'm really surprised that Torino and Milano are being reported as "not different" from other cities in Italy! Torino in particular is one of Italy's most unusual cities, and can be esepcially interesting for people with teenagers or children, because of its unusual variety of fun museums -- movie, cars, egyptology, etc.

If you are not driving a car, staying at an agriturismo in the countryside is not a great idea.

If you end with days in Milano, you might consider the one-hour train trip up to Stresa in Lago Maggiore. From there, you can enjoy boat trips to the Islands, although your family might also like taking the cable car up into the mountains to hike, with beautiful views of the lake.

zeppole is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 06:10 AM
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By the way, regarding Napoli: I don't know if you plan to stay in the city itself, which can be fascinating and fun, but do be aware that navigating Napoli on foot can be quite nerve-wracking for parents because the chaotic -- truly chaotic -- and fast vehicular traffic that whizzes through every corner of Napoli, from every direction. Keeping a sightseeing group together and attentitive can be exhausting. And Napoli can feel unnerving at night.

You might prefer the calmer Sorrento.
zeppole is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 06:31 AM
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Whether you travel by train or by car, your trip will be strenuous and stressful and your kids will kill you by the end of your trip. Believe me.

IMO, you are trying to pack way too many destinations into your trip (as most Americans do when they travel to Europe and as most Europeans do when they travel to North America).

Be aware that train trips are stressful, too, if you overdo. You have to make it to the station on time, you have to schlepp baggage, you will spend considerable time waiting in the hubbub on stations, you will have trains which are running late, you have to find your seats on the train, you will find that your reservations have been cancelled, you do not find contiguous seats for your family, you will miss connections, you will need transport from train station to accomodation etc.

You mentioned that your kids would like to spend a few hours on the beach from time to time. Italy has wonderful beaches practically everywhere. Especially in Northern Italy you have beautiful beaches on the coast as well as at the lakes (Lago di Garda, Lago Maggiore etc. - not Lago di Como, it is cold).

Better make a more relaxed itinerary and skip some destinations, maybe Sicily.

Even if you prefer to take the train, rent a 7-seater-minivan for a couple of days, especially for exploring Tuscany and Northern Italy. There are beautiful scenic drives and you will see something of the countryside. Don't be afraid. For my family of six I usually rent 9-seater-minibuses or even 12-seater-trucks and never had trouble driving them in Italy. It is not a third-world country.
traveller1959 is offline  

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