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Italy (Feb'05)- Where to, for good weather/ rates

Italy (Feb'05)- Where to, for good weather/ rates

Dec 13th, 2004, 04:32 PM
  #1  
pg
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Italy (Feb'05)- Where to, for good weather/ rates

We (including 2 young kids) are planning our first trip to Italy in late Feb/ early March, mostly due to better airfares/ hotel rates. We are more interested in history, architecture, culture and natural scenery (not much in paintings, or religion). Thru other posts, I have learnt that Rome and southwards would generally give us good 6-7 hours of pleasant [50f+] weather.

I would really value any suggestions for a 7-10 day tour. Should Rome really be a major part of the itinerary for a first visit? I have read that southern Italy is probably less expensive than northern - less touristy - and of course better weather (better food?) than the North during Feb-Mar., while having interesting historical sites. The negative that I have read on Southern Italy is that it is comparitively more crime-prone - so it gets really expensive to rent a car to get around. Would the cost of public transportation to get around between towns offset the cost advantage that we might otherwise get?

I have had wonderful past experience planning trips for myself and others in my family using suggestions from fellow Fodorites - I hope to come up with a great itinerary this time as well.
pg is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 05:50 PM
  #2  
 
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I would recommend Sicily. My car rental there was no more expensive than anywhere else in Italy. Here's a link to my 10 day trip that I took in March-April 2003:

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34412340

There are so many wonderful historial and archaeological sites. The food is almost the best I've had in Italy (I say almost because my aunt's in Calabria is the best to me!)

I've spent plenty of time in Southern Italy and have not witnessed any crime.
AP6380 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 10:02 PM
  #3  
 
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You could easily spend the whole time in Rome and not see it all. In Rome you don't need/wouldn't want a rental car - public transport plus the occasional taxi would be a lot easier, and cheaper.

The weather is likely to be decent though chilly at night, and dry. Walking around alot will keep you warm!


best regards,
Deirdré Straughan

http://www.straughan.com
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Dec 14th, 2004, 03:28 AM
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As much as I enjoy Sicily, I would suggest Rome for this trip. I think it is especially good for visiting with kids, as there is simply so much to see and do and the range of accomodations and dining are huge!
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Dec 14th, 2004, 11:51 AM
  #5  
 
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"We are more interested in history, architecture, culture and natural scenery"

Um, except for natural scenery Rome fits the bill. Rome's fantastic, and when I was there in Feb. 2003 (ugh, sooo long ago) it was mainly dry and sunny, although quite crisp.

I have also visitied Assisi and Siena at that time of year (once with Rome, once without). Guess what? I didn't think any place was too cold. But I don't think it was 50f+.

Have a great time!
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Dec 14th, 2004, 12:37 PM
  #6  
 
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My first instinct is that I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in a car in unfamiliar territory with young kids, and I kinda doubt they would want it either.

I'd suggest staying the whole time in Rome with one or two daytrips, or splitting time between Florence and Venice. From Florence you can daytrip into Tuscany,with or without a car.
In Florence even if you minimize going to museums (please see 'David' though) you can marvel at the architecture and history.
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Dec 14th, 2004, 02:20 PM
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Sicily is full of natural scenery. Rome is full of many wonderful treasures, and some of them are obviously religious in nature. Sicily is cheaper than Rome. In my opinion, even though the food that I had in Rome was great, Sicily's was better.

I would get off the usual tourist's track and try something different, but if you really want to use only public transit and not rent a car maybe Rome would be better.
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Dec 15th, 2004, 07:12 AM
  #8  
pg
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Thanks for your responses.

In the past 3-4 years we have travelled in Spain, Holand and Germany by car and really enjoyed the freedom and chance it offers to go off the beaten path, not to mention that it is cheaper for a family of 4 to move inter-city distances. Generally, we have avoided having the car when in a big city like Amsterdam, Seville, Munich etc, and used public transportation instead. So, I am pretty open to car rental if you guys think we should include towns other than Rome.

Although we love paintings, it is difficult to engage the kids for 2-3 hours in a museum - so in general we avoid a lot of museums in our itinerary.

My other questions is - when we were in Amsterdam, they told us it is the Venice of the North. I also have noted some posts that suggest that Venice is over-rated, and one should head to Florence area instead. Do you guys think that Venice would be bit like Amsterdam, and our time is better spent on seeing something more diverse than what we have seen before. I get attracted to Florence because of nearness to Pisa.

At the same time I get a feel that true Italian culture (better weather?)can be better experienced in the south - getting a chance to interact with local people is the biggest personal satisfaction I get from visiting a foreign land - and in my experience people in bigger or touristy towns are too busy with their lives or too tired of seeing tourists.

I am still confused as to what/ how much to experience in a country that has so much to offer.
pg is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 10:10 AM
  #9  
 
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I have never been to Amsterdam but it is on my list of places to visit.

I am one of the posters who thinks Venice is way overrated. It is very expensive all the way around and I find the jostling crowds on the vaparettos to be very annoying. I get tired of being shoved around by tourist with video cameras in hand trying to get a good shot over the edge of the boat. If you can afford private taxis, it is probably less annoying. Last January, we had snow and sleeting rain for 2 days. It was miserable.

I love Sicily but cannot agree with the poster that says it is less expensive than Rome. I have found the opposite to be true.

I love Florence for many reasons and that is where I spend the majority of my time when in Italy. Rome and Florence are easily combined with frequest Eurostar service between the two.

I also very much enjoy being off the beaten track but with young children, I think it could be more challenging.

Each area of Italy has much to offer. And 7-10 days is a short time so I would minimize destinations and travel. I was not comfortable travelling with my girlfriend in Naples, nor in Palermo. We were hassled frequently. I have not experienced that in other parts of Sicily nor in Italy in general. Those two cities were the only ones where I did not feel very safe. ANd I have travelled internationally since I was 16 and grew up in NYC so I am not a wuss.

kfusto is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 11:22 AM
  #10  
DRJ
 
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Just a few comments from one who visits Italy spring and fall.

IMO, Venice is the most spectacular city in the world. I've been there in February in the snow and in the week of Carnevale. Terrific if you enjoy mayhem.

IMO, Pisa is very forgettable.

Rome is an unending feast. I could spend a year there and never experience it all.

I've only been as far south as Puglia so can't comment on Sicily.

I share your conflicted state. I guess I'd flip a coin for Rome or Sicily and be happy however it turned out.
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Dec 15th, 2004, 11:40 AM
  #11  
ira
 
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Hi pg,

>...they told us it is the Venice of the North. <

Every city in the world that has a canal is called "the Venice of ...".

Venice is absolutely unique.

As much as I love it, I suggest that this trip you restrict yourslves to Rome. You can do a daytrip to Orvieto for a hill-town experience (the kids will like the funiculare), and Ostia Antica for ancient ruins.

Enjoy your visit.
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Jan 1st, 2005, 04:38 AM
  #12  
cmt
 
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Rathre than post a long message, I'll "second" everything that AP6380 said.
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