italy with a 10 year old

Dec 16th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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italy with a 10 year old

Hello, we are going to Italy with my 10 year old daughter. Does anyone have any suggestions on things to do with her. We are a late 30's couple and traveling to Italy for the first time. Has anyone had a babysitter there? We will be celebrating our 2nd anniversary and would love a night out. We are both pretty relaxed traveller's and am planning on spending 4 days in Rome, 3 days in Venice and 5 days in paris, maybe Disneyland. We will train between cities. Thanks for your help!
chris_john is offline  
Dec 16th, 2006, 10:10 PM
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On things to do with your 10-year-old daughter: first, find out her interests. Second, have her look at guidebooks on the cities you're considering and note what appeals to her. The only place of those 3 cities that we've been to with our son was Paris, when he was 10 years old. We visited many of the same places I'd go with adults: the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay (but he does like art, and not all kids do), Notre Dame (big hit), boat ride on the Seine at night, Eiffel Tower (big hit as well). He did not like the Rodin Museum, not even the sculptures outside.

On a babysitter, everyone has their own comfort level on that. We did not use a babysitter when we took him to London, Paris & the Loire Valley (we were happy to have him with us for all meals, but then, we've been married longer than 2 years), but we have used babysitters with him and his sister on trips to large cities in the U.S. We've always booked those sitters through services recommended by the hotel. I suggest you ask your hotel for help, if you want to do this.

Taking the train between Venice or Rome and Paris would, I guess, take a lot of time. Many Fodorites have used discount carriers for short flights within Europe; look into that to save time and money.

In another post, you made a comment about room size and booking two rooms for your group of 3. They're not so common as rooms for 2 people, but quite a number of hotels have rooms for three (a triple), or rooms for two people that are big enough to accommodate an extra bed. In our previous trip with our son, as well as a trip I'm planning right now, I've found that sometimes, even if a hotel doesn't list a "triple," you can tell from their website whether a double room can accommodate an extra bed by seeing whether the webpage that lists the rates also includes a rate for an extra bed. If your daughter is 10, that should work just fine (except the factor of her being in the same room with you).

Personally, and it's just MY OPINION, I would not feel comfortable having my 10-year-old (or 11-year-old, as our son is now) in a separate hotel room in a large city.
Lexma90 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2006, 01:26 AM
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Hi C,

You might want to look into flying from Venice VCE to Paris ORY, unless you absolutely want to take an overnight train in a compartment for 4.

There are many hotels in your destination cities with "family" and/or "triple" rooms. is one.

Re baby sitters: Your hotel can arrange one for you. Quite often, it will be one of the maids or other staff.

ira is online now  
Dec 17th, 2006, 02:12 AM
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You may want a break from your child and she may need extra sleep but you will find the locals happily take theirs to restaurants etc
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 17th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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We have travelled to Rome and Venice when our kids were 9 and 12, and Paris when they were 10 and 13. Generally, kids can tolerate and even enjoy anything for a certain length of time. It does help for them to be familiar with things. I would suggest having her watch the Mary Kate and Ashley movies: "When in Rome" and "Passport to Paris". Also the "Lizzie Maguire Movie" which was filmed in Rome. Even if she has already seen them, it is fun to watch them again knowing you will be going there!

"Only You" is another great movie set in Italy that I think would be appropriate for your 10 year old. Don't forget the classic "Roman Holiday", makes the stop at Bocca della Verita (The Mouth of Truth) much more fun.

I noticed when I was in Barnes and Noble the other day that they had some excellent books for kids about art. Kids are always more interested in seeing the "real" thing if they have seen pictures of the art before.

Consider doing some tours for the Vatican and Ancient Rome (Colesseum, Forum, etc.). Gives the kids a chance to learn more and ask questions. Contact Michael Osman ( for a tour in Paris. He can work up a personalized itinerary that will please all of you.

Our kids favorite was definitely Rome. They just loved being there, sipping cappuccinos, eating gelato and feeling like they knew their way around the city (which was better than me!)

There is a great book called "Around Rome with Kids : 68 Great Things to do Together", there is also one of Paris.

About the two rooms as opposed to one, it shouldn't be too hard to find a room that can accomodate 3 people. We have had quad rooms and also two rooms in some locations. However, keep in mind you can rarely find connecting rooms, so I would be sure your 10 yo is comfortable with staying in her own room before you pay for two, and then find out she is not comfortable with that. Our kids were okay, being next door, but then they had each other. I know my son (who is the younger one) would not have felt comfortable being alone in a room. You might consider getting a two bedroom apt. (or 1 bedroom with sofa bed in the living room) so you could have seperate sleeping areas. Some apts. will let you stay for less than 1 week.
jgg is offline  
Dec 17th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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I asked my 11yr old daughter her favorite things in Paris, here is her list:
1. The Eiffel Tower
2. Crepes and the sandwiches sold on the street. She's normally picky, but loved the food in France!
3. Hop on Hop off bus, River Cruise
4. Climbing the steps of Sacre Ceour

In the musuems we always let the kids pick out post cards or books of things they have seen.

Get her a camera, and put her in charge of pictures, then let her make a bound book when you get home (

I have found in Paris at least, that people really enjoy kids: shop keepers, waiter, etc.

Skip Disney, It's better in the US

I would not put her in her own room, I think that might be scary to her. The more you include her, the more fun she'll have. Maybe get a suite or an apartment.

happytotravel is offline  
Dec 17th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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chris john,
See my trip reports for ideas in Rome (just skip to the end):

Henry is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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If you want to go to a theme park, you may choose to go to Gardaland when you are in Venice. Gardaland is the main theme park in Italy, located near lake Garda, about 90 minutes from Venice by car.

stefm is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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If you want to take a train between Venice and Paris, I high recommend an overnight train in a sleeper cabin (or fly). That's an awful long train ride.

Venice is a natural for kids, I'd think. Riding on the vaporetto, climbing bridges and towers, like that.
suze is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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when we were in venice this past summer, my daughters favorite things to do were :1. feed the pigeons in the piazza san marco ( actually my older sons and my husband and i loved this too! 2. a morning visit to Murano to see the glass blowing and 3.a ride in a gondola. we trained between the cities we went to and she thought the train rides were fun and relaxing. In
Rome she liked the trevi fountain, coleseum, Vatican ,Pantheon and of course shopping and gelato!
suzanne484 is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Thank you all so much for all the ideas. I am so nervous about making sure everyone has a good time. I was hoping for a connecting room when I started the forum but have now found several apartment type b&b's that we can stay. I will post when we get back and thanks again for all the links!
chris_john is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 05:20 AM
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I have returned to Fodor's for some tips regarding my Christmas present from my husband.. a weekend in Venice in two weeks time.
I can't wait!
Your post struck a cord as I last visited Venice and Rome as a sulky 14 year old who wanted to spend the summer at home in Scotland!This was the 60s when very few people holidayed abroad let alone drive 3 kids there from Scotland as my parents did! We were in italy for 3 weeks each summer for 6 years and split the time between cities and beach.
That summer I was a nightmare for my parents on the journey there. However, Venice changed all that. I remember most of that visit and it was wonderful. The gelatos, The buildings, the gondolas and the Murano glass factory. It was fantastic. My Dad had prepared us well in advance with pictures and descriptions of all we would see.
I am sure your daughter, like me, will love every minute of her time in Italy.. especially with her best friend to share it with.
Have a lovely trip!
aileenw is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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We took our kids to Italy last summer and our youngest daughter was 10. Her absolute absolute favorite thing about the whole trip was feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's square. We could have given her 10 euro for feed and left her there for the day and she would have been happy. In Rome, her favorite thing was climbing to the top of St. Peter''s like a fun house. Kids tend to love any tower they can climb to the top of and look out of. Of course, gelato was a big hit, as were boat rides of any kind.

(By the way, we took our kids to Disnyland Paris for two days a couple of years ago while spending the week in Paris. It was like taking a vacation from our vacation. After days of touring churches and museums, it was a fun break for all of us. Just warn her in advance that it's hard to get character autographs; folks don't queue, so only the most agressive get autographs.)
missypie is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 06:23 AM
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We have been to Europe many times with our daughter (now 13), including a 14 month trip in 2004/2005. That trip included two weeks in Paris, a week in Rome and a week in Venice. She loved it all and even took the lead role (at age 11) to plan our week's activities in Rome.

In Rome I think the highlights for her were the Ancient Roman spots like the Colesseum and Roman Forum. She also enjoyed St. Peters (climing to the top) and the Castello Sant Angelo. Does your daughter know the Roman Mysteries books by Carol Lawrence: This would be a great way to get her ready for the trip.

In Venice a highlight was a day trip to Burano (so colorful!!!) and Torcello. Despite what others have said, our daughter (then 11) was horrified by the pigeons at St. Mark's square. She had a bag of food and too many flew up and surrounded her all at once.

Paris is absolutely wonderful. We have been many times as a family. On our long trip we were there for two weeks, and I took our daughter out to Disneyland. We've been to DisneyWorld in Orlando several times, and if you've done that, I'd say to skip Disneyland Paris unless you are really big Disney fans. It's just not as good... a bit different and interesting, but not near the experience. If you have just five days in Paris, I'd recommend a day trip to Versailles instead. Or just stay in Paris.

You might enjoy reading my blog of our stays in Rome, Venice and Paris to get some ideas of what we did with our daughter. So much depends on what your daughter enjoys and is interested in. See the list of entries here:

Dec 28th, 2006, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Yeah, you need to know your kid to figure out what may interest her. My 13 year old hated the pigeons as much as the 10 year old loved them.

And as for Versailles, have you taken her to historic houses/decorated rooms before? When I was a child I LOVED historic, furnished houses...Mt. Vernon, etc. It was one of my favorite things to do on vacation. All three of my kids - even though they have very different personalities - view historic palaces, ornate rooms, etc. as a big yawn. So one kid may love Versailles while another might be bored to tears.

All of my kids LOVE street entertainers. We live in a suburb of Dallas, so they aren't exposed to that sort of thing on a regular basis. The only thing I regret on a couple of our trips is rushing to yet another destination instead of letting the kids stop for a while and watch the entertainers.

Final thoughts:
1. We saw lots of beggars in Italy - mostly in Rome. Our son, who is VERY soft hearted, had a very hard time passing them by. We came up with the idea of "beggar change." Every day, I would give him a pocketful of change, and he was free to give some coins to the folks who really moved him. You may not want to handle the issue in the same way, but if you don't live somewhere where there are lots of beggars on the street, be prepared to talk to your daughter about them.

2. Your religious beliefs are none of our business, but be prepared to talk about your beliefs when in Italy. LOTS of the art is would be hard to avoid it. There are lots of tales and paintings of religious martyrdom, saints, and lurid paintings of the Last Judgment. While climing the Duomo in Florence, my 10 year old asked me if there was a literal Hell. You might want to be prepared to tell your daugher what YOU believe about the religious stuff you will see.
missypie is offline  

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