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Italy in winter for Mom & 21 year old daughter: 10 days

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Jun 10th, 2013, 01:44 PM
  #1
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Italy in winter for Mom & 21 year old daughter: 10 days

My daughter JC will be going on a university exchange for a term in Belgium, starting late January 2014. She and I want to do some travel together before she starts school and we were thinking of 10 days in Italy or Spain. We're from Alberta, Canada and are quite used to really, really cold weather so travelling in Europe in winter doesn't faze us one bit - plus I'm a big baby in the summer heat. I'd rather park myself by any body of water with a cold drink close at hand during the summer than push up against hundreds of sticky tourist bodies in +30 degree weather . And the tourist crowds, I hope, would be less. Finally, I think JC wants to reserve the option to pick up travel in June and July to with her new friends and maybe some Canadians who may join her at the end of school.
We're both on a budget so no expensive hotels for us, but then I'm not prepared to do the hostel-around-Europe experience again at, ahem, my age. We are easy to please, however, so accommodation in convents or BnB's or small hotels/apartments would be okay.
So, I'm starting out with researching the Italy option. Here's what I'm thinking for a beginning itinerary for Italy:
Day 1: Fly from Brussels to Venice, hopefully in the morning.
Day 2,3: Venice
Day 4: Travel from Venice to Florence in the morning
Day 5, 6: Florence
Day 7: Travel Florence to Rome in the morning
Day 8,9: Rome
Day 10: Fly back to Brussels

Suggestions for airlines to use from Brussels? Can we do this itinerary successfully using train travel within Italy? Would it be more fun (or would it just be plain crazy) for us to rent a car so we have the freedom of the travel days to stop off at the little towns in between the big cities? Suggestions for accommodations?
Any comments or suggestions about any of this would be so very welcome. Please and thanks!!!
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Jun 10th, 2013, 02:01 PM
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Hi there! I would personally suggest renting a car. I did a similar trip in Italy a couple years ago and we drove from Venice to Florence with no troubles. The highways are easy to navigate, we had GPS in the rental car, and they drive on the right side of the road which was helpful. Stopping off in random towns is awesome, and you really find some gems that way. Also, I suggest getting "lost" on foot in Venice. Since you can never really get lost because the canal is always a waypoint, you are able to see the REAL tourist free Venice this way, and it's brilliant!
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Jun 10th, 2013, 02:05 PM
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This is a very easy itinerary to do by train, and harder by car. Florence is full of no drive zones, and it is very hard to park there.

We do those sorts of car trips where we can stop in lots of little towns at will, but those trips don't really include cities. Also, renting a car is expensive.

Winter is a great time for these cities. You might experience alta aqua in Venice. Perhaps stay near the train station, in case you need to get out of town for day trips if there is flooding. Others might know more about this.

Small apartments should be easy to find with your three night stays.

I have been to Florence in the winter several times and think it is very easy to enjoy the city in that season.

"More fun" is a relative term. It depends too much on who you are, what you like, how the weather holds up, etc.
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Jun 10th, 2013, 02:37 PM
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Thanks tuscanlifedit and ravencelt. I'm used to travelling by car everywhere in Canada and the U.S. and the ability to spontaneously stop anywhere we want en route to our destination. Given the relatively short length of our trip maybe we should put away the highway map and just be content to hop on the train!
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Jun 11th, 2013, 05:55 PM
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Anyone else out there that's had experience with travelling in Italy in winter? Tips about using Vueling or RyanAir to travel from Brussels to Italy or or within Italy? Any suggestions for good budget accommodations in Florence, Rome or Granada?
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Jun 11th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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Re: "Anyone else out there that's had experience with travelling in Italy in winter? Tips about using Vueling or RyanAir to travel from Brussels to Italy or or within Italy? Any suggestions for good budget accommodations in Florence, Rome or Granada?"

Ha ha I'm obviously dreaming of travel to Spain as well. I meant to refer to good budget accommodations in Florence, Rome or Venice!
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Jun 11th, 2013, 06:56 PM
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>>>Florence is full of no drive zones, and it is very hard to park there. <<

As are most towns including Rome. This means you simply are not allowed to drive in the centers of most towns including Rome, Florence, Pisa, small hill towns, etc. The larger towns are controlled by cameras and they snap your license plate every time you cross them. The ticket(s) come in the mail after you get home. Parking will run 30-40€ per night if you have a car as your hotels will not likely have parking. If you stay in Florence, you are allowed to drive to your hotel to drop your luggage if your hotel has the agreement to notify the police of your license plate. You are not allowed to come and go to your hotel if it's in a the restricted zone (ZTL), only drop your luggage on arrival and pick it up on departure. That means you will need to park outside the zone and transport in to your lodging.

I don't think I would bother with a car at that time of year. It will be dark around 5. Many small towns shut down in the afternoon (1-4) and less will be open in the winter. If I were to get a car at all, it would be if you had time to tour around some smaller towns in Tuscany between Florence/Rome. You don't seem to have time for that so I can't see paying 300€ to rent a car(more if you need an automatic) plus parking fees, tolls, etc. since you say you are on a budget.

>>>so accommodation in convents or BnB's or small hotels/apartments would be okay.<<<

How much do you want to spend per night?

>>>Vueling or RyanAir to travel from Brussels to Italy<<<

Ryan Air would be my last choice of all the budget airlines.

>>>or within Italy?<<<

Trains and buses are more practical as they connect you to the city center in most cases and airports are on the outskirts. Venice/Florence by fast train is 2 hours (advance purchase tickets as cheap as 9€) and Florence/Rome is 90 minutes.
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