Italy with baby - where to go?


Sep 15th, 2017, 05:18 PM
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Italy with baby - where to go?

Hello! My husband and I are looking to rent an apartment in Europe for 3 or 4 weeks with our 11 month old in May. Would appreciate if anyone has suggestions for a town, village, or non-major city that is relatively calm (ie, a city smaller than Rome or even Bologna), that can be a good base where we can enjoy the culture of the town, maybe hop out to a museum and grab a cappuccino, go to the market to cook in the apartment, and have access to day/weekend trips. We're thinking a town in Italy, but are open to other countries. Places drivable to a beach are a big plus for us also, though in May it will likely be too cold and the beach would just be a big plus for us, not a requirement. Thanks, we appreciate any advice!
Beatlemania is offline  
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Sep 15th, 2017, 06:11 PM
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I like your idea of staying put for a month with a young child.

I suggest Lucca. It's a medium sized town, flat (which may be an advantage with a pram and a toddler), has a good range of cafes, bars, restaurants, sights to see and is within striking distance of a number of possible day trips.

Vicenza would be another good alternative, which while very different to Lucca has similar characteristics as I've described for Lucca but is further from the coast. Of the two, I'd probably choose Lucca myself but either would be great.

Next year we're going to have a week in Ferrara and from what I read, it could meet your needs too but I hesitate to recommend it personally as we have yet to visit.

There are obviously heaps of choices but hopefully you'll get some recommendations that you can investigate further.
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Sep 15th, 2017, 09:32 PM
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Perhaps it would be better to post in the Italian forum instead of the France forum. You'll get better responses.
fuzzbucket is offline  
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Sep 15th, 2017, 10:17 PM
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It is tagged under Italy already. Is there a special Italian forum?
dreamon is offline  
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Sep 15th, 2017, 10:40 PM
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>>Perhaps it would be better to post in the Italian forum instead of the France forum. <<

>>It is tagged under Italy already. Is there a special Italian forum?<<

No -- there is no 'France Forum' nor 'Italy", etc. Just a 'Europe Forum' and then you can tag for various countries. They are no separate forums.

The OP asked about Italy but apparently is also open to other countries -- which is probably why its tagged for Denmark, France, Italy, and the Netherlands

Lucca also came to mind for me -- but I've only been there for 1.5 days so not as familiar with it as dreamon.
janisj is online now  
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Sep 15th, 2017, 11:21 PM
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This other post might be useful:

You won't know yet whether your baby will be toddling around by then, although it's less than likely I guess.
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Sep 15th, 2017, 11:23 PM
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Been to lucca once. Spent half a day in an office then we went into town for lunch and exited after lunch. Afterwards I realised it was a gem.

I would not spend a whole month at one place but it is me. A 11 month baby is great for travel. You put it on you and he is happy.
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Sep 16th, 2017, 03:11 AM
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I too would also do two rentals, each for two weeks.

To Lucca and Vicenza, I would add Verona and Padova. I love Verona.

These are all interesting cities. I don't know about Lucca, but the others are on train lines that can take you all sorts of places for day trips. Parking and driving are such hassles in Italy, that I would only travel by car if I had to. "Country" travel by car is fine, but the major routes remind me of I-95 or the M-25.

With a baby, you need to be aware that all sorts of things that you would expect to find open on weekends in the US or UK are likely to be closed in Italy and France (perhaps other countries as well). Certainly supermarkets, many gas stations, small shops like bakers and green grocers, and pharmacies can be hard to find, even in large cities. When we stayed in a village nearish to Vicenza, many shops closed early afternoon on Saturday, and even the supermarkets were closed on Sunday.
Many towns have early closing .-- after 1 PM -- of everything on another day of the week or the butcher and baker are closed on Monday to make up for having to work Saturday.

It's all worth it, and taking the baby to the local restaurant where extended families eat three hour Sunday lunch is a life-altering experience. Italians love babies, but dress him/her up in her/his best, and honor the occasion with your own best clothes.
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Sep 16th, 2017, 03:48 AM
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I like Vicenza and the area a lot. My only hesitation would be that it's not centrally located in Italy, and isn't the ideal spot from which to explore other areas, and no beach. It, however, does have good access to bordering countries -- Switzerland, Austria, etc.
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Sep 16th, 2017, 01:22 PM
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In Italy, most shops are required to close either one morning or one afternoon a week, as well as on Sunday. The specific rules vary by town, and areas which depend heavily on tourism are exempt from the rules. No shop is allowed to remain open for more than 13 hours a day. In most towns, all grocery shops tend to close one afternoon a week, and Thursday afternoon is a popular choice. It may be required in some towns. Dry goods shops tend to remain closed on Monday mornings.

Most shops are open Saturdays, with regular hours, except our computer technicians.

In small towns, most shops close for a long lunch hour, for example, from 1 PM to 4 PM. Typical hours for a shop would be from 8:30 AM to 1 PM, and from 4:30 PM to 8 PM.

Pharmacies are required to coordinate with each other so that one is always open (even on Sundays) if there is more than one pharmacy in the town. In very small towns, they coordinate with the pharmacies in nearby towns. Each pharmacy should have a small sign directing you to an open pharmacy if they are closed. Newspapers also publish a list of pharmacies and their opening hours. I don't know if it's required by law, but in our town you can ring up the pharmacist in an emergency if he's closed.
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Sep 16th, 2017, 03:16 PM
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You didn't tag your post for Spain, but you said you are open to suggestions. Take a look at San Sebastian (Donostia). If you stay in or near the old city, you have a nice beach, a small outdoor market, two large supermarkets, several mini markets, dozens of restaurants (including some Michelin rated) and cafes within a five or ten-minute walk. Parking can be challenging and expensive, but you don't need a car. You can get anywhere you need to go by bus or train. The "new" city has several museums, and you're fewer than two hours by bus to Billbao with the Guggenheim museum. There's a TI in the old city with some of the most helpful people you'll find. They'll direct you to the exact bus or train, tell you the schedule and fares, even tell you which bus shelter to wait in. There are a number of easy day trips, and plenty to do in San Sebastian itself. It's relatively flat, easy for a stroller. Incidently, I have never seen so many sets of twin toddlers or babies. It was very noticeable...perhaps there's something in the water. I don't think you would be bored or disappointed. We stayed there for two weeks in the beginning of April and there were a few nice beach days. May will be even better. We could easily spend a month there.
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Sep 20th, 2017, 05:28 AM
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check VRBO for apartments or Air B&B as well. We rented in Padova and took train to Bologna, Venice and Verona which was great for our time as we were only exploring the Veneto. If you are planning on doing more than perhaps more centralized location might work or Florence where we also rented an apartment both via VRBO. Rick Steves' books have great suggestions which I highly recommend.
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Sep 20th, 2017, 05:59 AM
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What do you like to eat? I'm not a huge fan of Lucchese cuisine, so a month there would be quite tough for me. In addition, there are very few sights of interest in Lucca for rainy days, of which Lucca gets more than many other towns (that's why it's one of the few towns in Italy wth English-style flower gardens). Even sunny days don't provide a lot of interest in Lucca unless simply walking around an antique town is enough interest for you for a month. I find Lucca interesting for about 2 days tops. (I spent a week there once.)

Also, since you mention you want to experience local culture, Lucca is very much a tourist town. In May, there will be more tourists in the town on most days than there will be locals.

I might consider towns on the other coast of Italy, especially since they tend to warm up a little sooner in the year. Ferrara & Ravenna would be among my first choices for a small livable city with lots of local personality and food I enjoy. Even though both have exceptional tourist attractions, each town is still economically independent of tourism.

I'd sooner pick Pisa than Lucca for a months stay, since it is chock full of sights most tourists never see, magnetized as they are by the Leaning Tower. But Pisa has its own life too in many lovely parts of the tiny city where tourists never go.

Wherever you go within reach of water in Italy in May you need to protect your child (and yourselves) against mosquitoes.
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