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vjose Jun 12th, 2013 03:03 AM

Italy with kids - lost in the wilderness of planning - please help
Good day.

We, 4 adults and 3 kids (3, 4, and 9 years) would be in Italy for 13 days, mostly following a “tourist trek”. Italy will be the second destination (country) after France. We are flying in to Rome from Toulouse on EasyJet.

This is going to be long so kindly bear with me since I have so many queries and almost lost in the wilderness of planning.

--Any suggestions on good guide books for Rome,Tuscany and Venice would be very useful.

>>ROME - 7days or should we make it less

-- We will arrive at Rome Fiumicino Airport by 15:50.Hopefully we could reach and locate our apartment in the next couple of hours (18:00).I would need an airport transfer so I guess I would use as they sound reasonable. Any advices on this!

-- Shortlisted few apartments- need help to finalise. Which area is better in terms of location and convenience? Is trastevere is far (considering 7 days in here) from major attractions this looks good and seems there is tram stop close by

Places to Visit
-- wander through Campo Dei Fiori and Piazza Navona. Spanish steps (No shopping), Borghese park and then to Borghese Gallery.

-- Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Pantheon

-- Tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica and a Papal visit

-- I guess I would need to make a reservation for the gallery and vatican.

-- Restaurant recommendations (non touristy) would be helpful.

--We are planning to rent a 7 seater car/van on leaving Rome. Is this a good idea. If so what is the best place to rent from since I would like to avoid driving in the city

>>TUSCANY – 3 days or should I add one more day

Would like to visit Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa or anything else you would suggest.

-- Straight from Rome, Hoping to Visit Pisa before heading to the base in Tuscancy

-- Suggest me a good base in Tuscany(Is Florence a good choice) en route to Venice

-- What to do in Tuscany for 3 days- places to visit etc.

-- Will visit Padua, en route to Venice

>>VENICE - 3 days

Apartment is confirmed.
Will drop off the rent a car/van in Padua and get a train to Venice

What to do in Venice for 3 days
-- walks in Dorsoduro, San Polo, San Croce and (San Marco- St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace- and Rialto after dusk) etc.. A Gondola ride as well.

Early check out and a long train journey to our final destination (Country), Switzerland

Really appreciate all wonderful fodorites, who have helped me with my numerous queries and for the excellent suggestions and advise .


bilboburgler Jun 12th, 2013 03:39 AM

Looks like good planning to me, I might well stay in Florence but not really very good for Tuscany, depending on time of year

can you advise?

I might either find a hotel in the countryside with pool (August especially) or find somewhere in Siena which is not too far from the car parks or try a smaller town with a smaller hotel.

Florence is a big visit and best done out of high season. There are some great appartments outside the no car zone and you can catch a bus or walk to the centre.

Dickie_Gr Jun 12th, 2013 03:48 AM

We just spent a week in Rome with sleep initially, absolutely no issues with the rental. We orgibally used VRBO but were let down at the last minute when the owner returned our deposit as THEY wanted to use the apartment. We were not surprised as after 20 odd visits, you do become aware that many Italians are vague in their business dealings.

Taxi from the airport is 50 euros, do not do as we did , the bus to Termeni then a taxi is more expensive.

indy_dad Jun 12th, 2013 03:49 AM

see if this helps for the Rome part:

vjose Jun 12th, 2013 03:51 AM

Thanks bilboburgler.

Do you have any suggestions on smaller towns with a smaller hotels.

Will skip Florence this time.

vjose Jun 12th, 2013 04:09 AM

Thanks Dickie.

I have booked with sleep initially for Venice. However for Rome it seems they have apts in trastevere only.(Rest all gone for our dates).

I would be using for airport transfers(60EUR)

Vttraveler Jun 12th, 2013 04:57 AM

For apartment rentals in Rome you could also try

vjose Jun 12th, 2013 05:10 AM

Thanks indy_dad. I have seen your report and is already book marked for further reference.

How ever cant' find the mentioned apartment. How did you went to Trastevere, by foot/Taxi/Tram. Just want to find out if that area is walkable from campo.

JP_Fabre Jun 12th, 2013 05:22 AM

Wow, challenging post!
In order:
- Rome: 7 days will give you plenty of time, you may consider to "sacrify" 1 day in favor of Tuscany country side or for a day trip to Pompei, kids will love it (or 2 days, one in the Amalfi coast, one in Pompei)
- Trastevere is walking distance from most of the city center attractions... but you'll have to walk a lot. Maybe the Piazza Navona / Spanish Stairs areas could be more convenient. Said so, Trastevere is a delightful neighborhood, but it can get VERY noisy and crowded during summer time. Try to find an apartment not too close to the main walking streets. You can rent bycicles and Segways.
- Other places not to miss: Appia Antica and the catacombs (kids will appreciate), the off the beaten track medieval Rome and Ghetto (have a look at my travel blog for a suggested itinerary
- if you have a car, maybe before leaving to Tuscany, go to Tivoli, to visit Villa Adriana (the astonishing remains of emperor Adriano villa)and Villa d'Este (gorgeous renaissance park, with dozens of fountains and basins - one of my son's preferred places) - half day needed
- Aventino, with middle age churches (santa Sabina), nice terrace over Trastevere and the famous "Key hole" with a view over St Peter cathedral (piazza Cavalieri di Malta).
- YES, you'll need a reservation for the vatican! Try Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi for a guided tour with reserved entrance. look at my blog for e-link

- pisa is not on the Rome - Florence path, so you can visit it anytime from Florence
- I recommend spending 1-2 days in the Tuscany countryside (I just had 2 WE there!): Val d'Orcia (Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, bagno Vignoni), Siena, Monterigioni, San Gimignano, and the Chianti Area. You'll need to make a choice,won't be possible to see it all in 1/2 days, but you can visit a selection of these places while driving from Rome to Florence (instead of taking the highway). Look at for detailed itineraries and tips.
In Florence don't miss Fiesole, Piazzale Michelangiolo and San Miniato. Beware: private cars are hardly allowed in the city center, choose your hotel accordingly.

- Padova: good choice, have a look at Giotto's frescos at the Cappella degli Scrovegni. Tip: reservation is needed!

- Venice: my son's favorite town (9 years old). You should have a look at glass workshops in Murano, and, with 3 days you may consider take the Ferry Boat and visit Torcello and Burano. I'm actually working at a "visit Venice with kids" post, stay tuned...

Hope it helps!

mamcalice Jun 12th, 2013 06:06 AM

Whatever you do, don't schedule a day trip to Pompeii with a 3 and 4 year old! In summer, it would be beastly hot and tiring for small children (not to mention adults). And I can't imagine 3 and 4 year olds would be interested at all.

I would borrow one day from Rome and add it to Tuscany. And I would find an agritourism or hotel with a pool for the kids.

kybourbon Jun 12th, 2013 06:09 AM

What time of year?

I would drop a couple of days in Rome and add to Tuscany. If July or August, I would probably limit Rome to 4 days as it will be stifling hot and stay somewhere in Tuscany with a pool for the kids.

I wouldn't have a problem with the first Trastevere apartment as there are lots of transport options. It would probably be easier with small kids to stay Piazza Navona area.

If you stay in Trastevere, you can hop tram 8 to the center (stops near Campo and goes all the way to Piazza Venezia which is next to the Forum/Colosseum). There is also a little electric bus (125 I think). The Trastevere train station is not far and you can hop a local train to S. Pietro station (walk to the Vatican from there) or other direction one stop to Ostiense (change to the metro there). You can also take tram 3 from the Trastevere station to the Colosseum.

Tram map (hasn't been updated to show tram 8 new stops at Piazza Venezia).

Electric buses that go through the center (all they way to Borghese).

>>>Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Pantheon<<<

I would move Pantheon to your Campo/Piazza Navona day as it's a couple of minutes walk from Piazza Navona.

>>>Would like to visit Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa or anything else you would suggest.
Straight from Rome, Hoping to Visit Pisa before heading to the base in Tuscancy<<<

This isn't practical. You would be bypassing most of Tuscany that you want to see to reach Pisa and then have to backtrack. I would probably put Pisa on the travel day to Venice. Southern Tuscany is what you see on many postcards of the area (areas around Montepulicano/Pienza/Montalcino) which is all south of Siena. San G. in north of Siena and Pisa even further north.

You will need to avoid ZTL in Siena/Pisa, etc.

Judy Jun 12th, 2013 06:14 AM

I'd be concerned about fitting 7 people AND luggage for a long trip into a van. Do they rent the child seats as well? I guess the floor area under the smaller children could be storage.

vjose Jun 12th, 2013 06:20 AM

JP_Fabre. thanks for the details and link to your blog. will review and sure will have few queries too.

vjose Jun 12th, 2013 06:25 AM

Oops.. Sorry,I missed out on the dates. Current plans

Arriving at Rome on 22nd July 2013 - 7 days
Tuscany - 3 days
Venice - 3 days departing on 5th August 2013.

girlonthego Jun 12th, 2013 07:01 AM

I think you are in Rome too long with such young kids. You are planning a lot of attractions for a young family. We just traveled through Rome and Florence with kids who are 19 and 20. We walked a lot in Rome and it was tiring. The cobblestones are tough on the legs. I would recommend staying in a better location than Trastevere. It seems out of the loop and there is no way your kids will be able to walk that much. An area closer to the main sights will be easier to walk back to the apartment if you need to. Across town and across a bridge means you pack for the day or you are taking a lot of taxis.
I also think you have a lot of sights planned and it will be hot and tiring for the kids. Lots of great history, but many places are not airconditioned and it will be very crowded. The vatican told us they are not airconditioned for the tour areas. It was a beautiful day in May when we went so it wasn't bad, but we were packed in like sardines in the rooms. I imagine it gets very warm in there. I can't imagine they don't air condition at all though with the great works of art they have,but that is what they told me.
We had 6 nights in Rome, and thought it was too long. We would have been better with 4 nights. If everyone tires out, you can always get one of those hop on hop off bus tickets. It does make getting from site to site easier.

Florence is a smaller city and is very walkable. We liked it better than Rome.
Tuscany is beautiful, but I would definitely choose a hotel with a pool or some sort of resort. The area is beautiful,but will be boring for young kids (just my opinion). We visited a friend there and the area is very pretty, food was great, but not much for young kids to do.
Ihave not been to Venice so I can't comment on that. Did you ever think of heading to riviera with the kids? Spending a few days on the Mediteranean. We would have if it fit into our schedule. We were traveling by train and it just seemed out of the way. We wanted to see the main points of Italy. Knowing what Iknow now, I might have altered our trip and included a few days at the beach rather than some of the days in Rome and I would have skipped Milan completely.

vjose Jun 12th, 2013 07:06 AM

Any Advise on the below -looks very rustic

tuscanlifeedit Jun 12th, 2013 07:27 AM

vjose: the above apartment does not seem to have air conditioning. It will be hot in Rome.

The location is excellent, and it doesn't look rustic to me. By my Rome rental standards, it looks very nice. The AC or lack thereof would keep me away.

I would add on to Tuscany, make the stop rural, somewhere in southern Tuscany as mentioned, and have a pool.

Dickie_Gr Jun 12th, 2013 07:50 AM

Is great fun and just at the Pyramid Metro stop.

They were at the fore of the Turin slow food movement but as is with ay contradiction have probably become too big to be classed as slow food. Still a good show case for all the best of Italian food.

Also support the suggestion of the Via Appia Antica, we hired bikes from the cafe and cycled down about 10 miles. Cars are banned for most of the way and the road is littered with Roman remains. Haunting to think that 5000 of Spartacus' followers were crucified at the side of the road.

Jean Jun 12th, 2013 08:23 AM

Do either the 3 y.o. or the 4 y.o. still nap every day?

IMO, this is a fairly ambitious itinerary for adults at that time of year. I don't know how it even works with 3 small children.

If anything, I'd reduce the Rome days to 3-4 and add days to Tuscany. The little ones won't understand Rome and would probably enjoy more a chance to run around and play somewhere out in the countryside. You could look for an agriturismo with animals which would interest them much more than Roman ruins and art.

You could stop here on your way from Rome to your Tuscany base:

Mimar Jun 12th, 2013 09:19 AM

Random thoughts:

I agree Trastevere is a bit out of the way. It's better to be in the center of the sights, so if the 3-year-old gets tired, you (or some of you) can easily drop back to the apartment for an hour or two.

I recommend a tour for the Roman forum, otherwise it's just a confusing jumble of broken columns and pieces of marble. The Vatican Museums are huge; the kids would probably be bored after one room.

Even if the 7-seater van is big enough for your group and all their luggage, it will be too big and unwieldy to drive into small hilltowns. You will have to park on the outskirts and walk in.

In Venice take the vaporetto to the islands in the lagoon. Murano is famous for glass-blowing, Burano for lace-making (and it's just cute). Also the kids might like to go to the beach on the Lido, also accessible by vaporetto. The Lido is a long barrier-type island with a long beach; there are public beaches at either end. A bit of a walk though.

I have to agree that you're doing a lot for a trip with children, very young children. Much of what you want to see involves walking, a lot of walking. They'll get tired just walking through the Vatican Museums. When you travel with young kids, you can't see everything, go everywhere; you have to adapt.

And, as usual, the more you research, the more places you want to go and the more things you want to see. I'd drop Pisa and Padua for this trip, just drive the van to Venice and drop it at the Piazzale Roma on the edge of Venice. And definitely don't add a day trip to Pompeii from Rome.

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