Italy Family Trip Itinerary - December

Sep 16th, 2010, 06:44 AM
  #1  
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Italy Family Trip Itinerary - December

4 nights Rome including long day trip to Pompeii - Sat - Wed
2 nights near Maranello (thinking Bologna and renting a car) Wed-Fri
3 night Florence (including Christmas) Fri - Mon
3 nights Venice Mon- Thursday

How does that sound??
We fly out of Venice at 6:30 am - yuck!!! How do people deal with that?

Also - a friend told me there is some type of "Gladiator Training" at the Colosseum for kids. Anyone ever done that?
MiamiBeachMomma is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 07:37 AM
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Well, the best way to handle the early morning departure from Venice is to fly into there and fly out of Rome. Marco Polo Airport is quite small. You don't need to get there at 3:30 AM for a 6:30 flight. Probably 5 or 5:30 would do. Lots of people have this problem. Search this forum for answers.

Your itinerary sounds good except a little out of geographical order. Bologna is between Florence and Venice. But maybe you are adjusting things for Christmas.

How old are your children? Have you considered an apartment rental in Rome?
Mimar is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 08:36 AM
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what is the attraction near Maranello? Driving in Forence can be difficult and what do you plan to do with your rental car once there? If you plan to return it in Florence you need to know the time of day the rental car agency is open rather than driving in and finding it is closed then having to find a place to park (impossible). I assume you would take the train to Venice which is an easy trip.
rlbplf is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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mimar -rent in rome for only 4 night? is that a good idea??

rlbplf,
Maranello is where the Ferrari, Bugati, and Lambo factories are located. I have to find out if they are even open that week die to Christmas.
We wouldnt drive in Florence - only Maranello.
MiamiBeachMomma is offline  
Sep 18th, 2010, 06:55 AM
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Well, if it's your first time in Rome and you want to have a hotel at which to ask questions, make reservations, etc, then maybe an apartment is not such a good idea. Although quad rooms are hard to find. But, in general, when traveling with children, an apartment is more comfortable. You have more space. They can go to sleep early, the adults can stay up talking. Snacks readily available (once you stock up). Apartments are especially good when you have very young children who nap.

And 4 or even 3 nights are not too short a rental period.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 18th, 2010, 07:10 AM
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Some further thoughts. If you do go for an apartment, choose one that is centrally located. You don't want to have to spend a large part of your day commuting back and forth. Look at www.slowtrav.com for lots of tips and information about vacation rentals in Itlay and elsewhere in Europe.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 11:24 PM
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I couldn't tell if the days you're in Italy are inclusive of your flight arrival and departure days. At first blush, your itinerary sounds like it could be a bit rushed for you and your family. If the days you're in Italy do include your arrival and departure days, then you are squeezing in a lot, in my opinion.

I would count on a day of jet lag when you arrive in Rome (if you are arriving from the US, that is.) So one of your 4 nights is gone. I would then nix the trip to Pompeii on this trip, and ideally save it for your next visit to Italy (surely there'll be another!). Pompeii is interesting, but it will take one full day out of your already-short stay in Rome. There is so much to see in Rome, and to just experience, that once you're there, you will realize you don't have time to see even a slice of it. (Even if your travel days listed don't include your arrival day, I would still skip Pompeii this time around. It's a huge day trip, and I feel it's more impactful and enjoyable to visit the ruins as part of a trip to Naples or the Amalfi Coast.)

It would be great to know the ages of your children, too. I always prefer an apartment in Rome over a hotel. Hotel rooms in the mid-tier price range are small. Occupancy limits are strictly enforced, too, so you may likely end up with two (or more) rooms which will quickly add up to more than the cost of an apartment. You can rent apartments for short stays without a problem.

I've stayed in Rome over the Christmas holidays, and it is great. But be aware that some restaurants and attractions are closed or have limited winter or holiday hours (or close unexpectedly). Definitely check in advance if you have a desired restaurant or sight (or Ferrari factory) you wish to see.

While I wouldn't personally recommend extending yourself by traveling to Venice during this trip, I do realize that people traveling to Italy have a list of "must sees." In Venice, just keep in mind that in December you may experience Acqua Alta ("high" water, or flood water). Just be prepared for purchasing big rainboots and enjoy Venice before it sinks.

See link below for more on Acqua Alta:
http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/...acqua-alta.htm
FamilyFriendlyItaly is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 09:07 AM
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jgg
 
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We were just in Bologna in July and visited the Ferrari Museum (you can't actually go in the factory unless you get a special invite from a dealer - usually need to own a fererari). Anyway, I suggest you stay in Bologna rather than in or near Maranello, it is a very small town and I imagine not a lot of options for dining there, while Bologna has tons of fabulous food and other interesting sites.

BTW, the Bugatti factory is not in Italy but in Germany near Strasboug, the Ducati (motorcycle) factory is in Bologna. Also, even though we couldn't go to the Ferrari factory we enjoyed our visit to the Ferrari museum - we were traveling with two teengers. We had a car in Bologna and drove there.
jgg is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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jgg,
Oops - I didnt mean Bugatti - I had a brain lapse. I meant Ducati - they rhyme!!
Would you say the Ferrari museum was worth it? We possibly had a way into the factory BUT they wont be open that week - Christmas time : (
I am finding out if the museum is open.
As you can see by the itinerary our time is tight and I want to make sure detouring for the museum will be worth our time.
Thx!!
MiamiBeachMomma is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 03:12 PM
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I've never been to either the Ducati or the Ferrari museum and can't advise what's worth it for your family, but the Ducati museum is much easier to reach from a base in Bologna, if it is open. You can reach it by commuter train or private driver.

At the time of year you are going, you run a very strong risk of snow. ice or blinding fog in Central Italy. The city of Bologna is a wonderful cold weather destination because most of its streets are sheltered -- for miles -- with overhead porticoes. In addition, many of the most interesting sights tend to be in smaller places and go beyond art museums -- there are historical medical museums, legendary food stores, unusual altars in churches. So it can be a relief after some of the heavy duty hours of sightseeing of mega-sights in a place like Rome.

Bologna also has wonderful train connections to beautiful towns like Parma with all its famous ham, cheese and perfume plus a glorious cathedral ceiling. Nearby Ravenna has glorious mosaics. Car-free Ferrara is filled with art and porticoes and warming food.

I'm hoping to entice you into not renting a car for that part of your trip.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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PS: If it turns out you go to Maranello, near Modena, there are fabulous eating opportunities all through the area. It is where Mario Batali learned a lot of his cooking, but in general it is considered a gastronomic paradise -- as is the entire region of Emilia-Romagna, so don't pick on that basis.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 03:28 PM
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I'm not sure how old your children are, but Venice is a great town for kids. There's an adventure at every turn.

I wrote a sort of treasure hunt for kids for Venice when I was there a cuple of years ago. It's here:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-teenagers.cfm

One thing has changed - the McDonalds in Calle lunga San Marco has closed - too much litter in the street!
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 07:44 PM
  #13  
jgg
 
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We did really enjoy the Ferrari Museum but this was our third trip to Italy and Bologna was one of our main destinations. Now that I have looked again at your itinerary, I see that Bologna/Maranello was just a side trip to see the car factories/museums - have to say I'm not sure it is worth that much of a diversion.
I think I would stick to Rome, Venice and Florence - you could definitely use the extra nights in Rome particularly if you plan on doing Pompeii as a day trip - personally I think there is TONS to do in Rome.
BTW, we have stayed twice in the quad room at the Hotel Albergo Cesari in Rome (www.hotelcesarirome.com/) and really enjoyed it - but there is only one bathroom so be warned...
jgg is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 04:27 AM
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If we ditch Maranello and free up those 2 nights. I am thinking 1 extra in Rome, but where should the other night go? Venice or Florence (see my itinerary in the original post.)

jgg - Grownups second trip to Italy - kids first. We have been to a lot of car museums in the US. I am wondering if it is soo different. The specialness of the trip was the factory. I think you may be right in skipping it this trip - although the idea of Bologna seems really nice - it may be just too much!! I think the kids may be more into Pompeii - did I mention they are 11 and 8.
MiamiBeachMomma is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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You could concievably add both extra days to Rome. You'll be recovering from jet lag there. And Pompeii is a long daytrip.

Otherwise give that day to Venice. With your early departure, you really only have 2 days in Venice. Another day in Venice is always good.
Mimar is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 08:12 AM
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You can find info on the gladiator school by googling "Viatour Rome". It's listed under "family friendly" section and also has reviews.
Lynnaustin is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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jgg
 
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Mostly the museum is just looking at different models of cars and engines. My kids were older 14 and 18 so not sure how much the 8 and 11 year old will enjoy unless they are really into cars. Also, can't touch them or sit in them.

I agree with Mimar's recommendations of adding both nights to Rome, esp. if doing Pompeii trip, and second choice would be adding to Venice. OTOH, with two of your days in Florence being Christmas Eve and Christmas you might want to find out what will be open while you are there and see if one more day there might not be helpful.

BTW, our first trip to Italy was in March 2005 when our kids were 9 and 12, so close to your kids ages. Here is a link to my trip report in case your interested: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...or-2-weeks.cfm
jgg is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 08:36 AM
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jgg,
The kids are huge car fans - but I think we are going to take your advice and skip it this trip. I was reading your trip report - Context Rome - checked the prices - about 300 Euros for 3 hours - seems really expensive - could that be right??
Thx,
MiamiBeachMomma is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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If you are looking for a cross between a hotel and an apartment in Rome, try the Domus Julia. It is the apartment annex to Hotel Julia.

We were very happy with our twin room there. You could rent two rooms, and you will have a dining room/kitchen, so you will have plenty of room, plus two bathrooms. It is located near the Spanish Steps, and easy walking to the Pantheon, the Trevi, etc.

Breakfast is included, served in the pretty breakfast room at the Hotel Julia.
PeaceOut is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 11:32 AM
  #20  
jgg
 
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MBM- Context Rome is fairly expensive. I just looked back at my notes and when we went 5 years ago we did pay 300euros each for the Vatican and Ancient Rome tours, but those were for private tour and I know it was more than 3 hours - probably more like 4-5. We started before 9am for the Ancient Rome and at 8:15am for the Vatican and I know we stopped for lunch on both of them and then still did a bit more of the tour after that. We chose to do the private tours because our kids were young and we thought it best to be on a flexible schedule - it was a good idea.

As I said, Context Rome is not cheap, and I'm sure their pricing has gone up in the last 5 years. There are several other tour guides highly recommended on these boards that I believe are less expensive and get rave reviews.
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