Italy in April (Florence??)

Jun 30th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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Italy in April (Florence??)

So, our 9 day trip will end on Easter Sunday. We're thinking about Florence. There will be four of us - a 13 & a 14 year old who have never been to Europe. Does this sound like a good city for us? Maybe day trips to some other cities - but thinking of avoiding Rome during the holidays. History - art - all good, but to be honest, need to find something that keeps the kids excited.
Please help - thanks! - Dorie
doried is offline  
Jun 30th, 2010, 09:09 PM
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Florence will be packed with Americans on spring vacation just like Rome.
ellenem is online now  
Jun 30th, 2010, 10:18 PM
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I traveled with three children aged 11, 14 and 16. Rome is far better suited than Florence to young adolescents. There are many historical and cultural sites that will be interesting, if not exciting for your children - much depends on their interests.

Some suggestions:

the colosseum
the forum
borghese gardens
ostia antica (day trip from Rome)
the appian way
st peter's dome
castel st angelo
national roman museum (extensive collections to choose from)
the mouth of truth

This should get you started.

I am much more familiar with Rome than Florence, perhaps others will have more knowledge of Florence and disagree with my assessment.

My children were interested in some aspects of life in the Roman empire (my son, age 14, read about the history of the colosseum - we all learned quite a bit!) and we got a variety of materials from the library that got them interested ahead of the trip.

And, when everyone had reached their saturation point there was delicious food and gelato. We took quite a few gelato breaks. Of course, this would be the same for Rome and Florence!
portiaperu is offline  
Jun 30th, 2010, 11:57 PM
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When I took teens to Italy (during Spring break), they liked both Florence and Rome, but I think they actually enjoyed Rome more. Florence seemed dead in the evening while it was fun doing evening walks in Rome. Also, though both were crowded, Florence seemed more crowded just because it is so compact. Don't know the rest of your trip, but they loved Venice!
Sassafrass is online now  
Jul 1st, 2010, 12:16 AM
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Florence is a great choice but be prepared to face lots of tourists. I do not know if you know where to stay, last year I went with our grandson,14 and my daughter and were very pleased with a huge quadruple room at hotel Casci which might be ideal for your family. Great location, great breakfast and reasonable. There is a DVD in room, good for some relaxed time and a small fridge good for snacks. Good luck.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 8th, 2010, 07:21 PM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Didn't think that Florence would be as crowded as Rome, glad to get the info.
doried is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 04:23 AM
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Florence will be mobbed at Easter, so be prepared. Lots of families and students travel at that time.
kfusto is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 06:33 AM
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I have to add a somewhat partial vote for Florence, not just because I work for the region of Tuscany but because I love it - i'm an expat who moved here because I loved traveling here when I was younger. Easter weekend itself IS a very busy week, and tourists tend to concentrate in a smaller area in FLorence than in Rome. But both at easter will have crowds. It's okay though, it's not like you won't get in to see the things you want to see. It's more crowded in June or July!

I think Florence is very manageable and it's also very safe, so if you're staying in a hotel downtown you can even let the kids go out together as a group for a few hours. You can also very easily do day trips, either by car or train. There are some activities specifically for kids available in florence, like the "museo dei ragazzi" which has kids tours of the palazzo vecchio, in english one day a week. Just outside the city you could consider doing a one day bike tour of the nearby countryside, kids usually like that. Rome is a fantastic city and I love it, but it's ALL CITY, whereas Florence is a great home base for other towns and for its green surroundings.
regionetoscana is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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The bike tour idea would also work on a day trip from Florence to Lucca, where the old city is surrounded by a massive wall that is so wide they made a park around the top, and you can rent bikes.

Climbing to the top of the dome of the Duomo in Florence (Firenze) is a perfect thing for teens. Read "Brunelleschi's Dome" before you go, to learn about the politics and art competition and engineering problems of putting the dome on it.

Also, a day trip to Orvieto is easy, and it's fun when you get off the train and take the funicular car that climbs straight up the steep sides of the mesa that the town stands on. And at the top you can climb down into a deep, deep well, by a spiral staircase, that was dug in the middle ages to provide water if the city was besieged. And there are all sorts of underground passages and caves you can see on a tour that starts in the main piazza by their Duomo.

the Centro Storico (historic center) of Florence is very small, and it is pretty easy to get around. For one thing, the Duomo dominates everything, so you can always get back to it to get your bearings, so the kids could go out on their own, with a map, of course.
charnees is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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I love Florence as well, but Rome will offer more options. In this case, no contest-Rome.
jabez is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 10:38 AM
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"History - art - all good, but to be honest, need to find something that keeps the kids excited."

So, even without Easter crowds, Florence is definitely not a place for you. Florence is all about architecture and art; it's not relaxing, not "exciting" (except for devotees of Romanesque stone decoration and Renaissance frescoes like me, of course), and may I say: not fun. It's a grey city with narrow streets (and narrow sidewalks) where plenty of traffic is thundering two inches past your left elbow, all is exhaust fumes, public transport is terrible (so you walk more or less everywhere instead of waiting half an hour for a bus that would leave you with a ten-minutes walk to your destination anyway). Oh yes, I like Florence, but in order to like it, I think it's indispensable to take refuge in all those frescoed churches, and not just for a peek - if you think it's fun to contemplate a chapel with Ghirlandaio paintings for the better part of an hour, by all means go. If you think that's not what "keeps the kids excited", by all means stay away.
franco is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 02:33 PM
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The last time I was in Italy I ended my stay in Florence Easter morning and traveled to Venice. Both places were crowded, but not disgustingly so. Maybe the fact that it was nice and cool helped. Rome may be more crowded due to the Vatican, but I would go to the city I wanted to see most.
Delaine is offline  
Jul 9th, 2010, 04:51 PM
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Just back from Rome/Orvieto/Perugia/
San Gimingnano/Pisa/Lucca/Florence/Venice.
My kids weren't with me, but if I were to take them back...
I would include Rome and Venice.
Florence was too slow paced and less variety.
(Lucca was closed down on the Sunday we went, so can't really comment on that, and the Funicular was broken at Orvieto.)
tinabina is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 11:15 AM
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So, when you ask a question you get answers - isn't this a wonderful problem to have!!!
Does anyone have opinions on doing the south of Italy instead? Originally thinking of the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii, etc., but worried about doing too much driving as my husband commutes 100 miles a day - need to avoid that on a vacation.
My kids are bright, and my son very curious, like me, but they would not enjoy a week of art.
I'm wondering if the week BEFORE Easter is as crowded as the week after. Our vacation would have us travel home on Easter or the day before.
Oh, so much to consider. It's only a week - next time we go longer.
Thanks everyone!
doried is offline  
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