Italy with kids - off the beaten bath

Old Nov 20th, 2017, 08:14 PM
  #1  
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Italy with kids - off the beaten bath

We are hoping to go to Italy for my milestone birthday with kiddos who will be 3,6,&8 at the time. Time of year would be end of may beginning of June. Trip will be two weeks and I’ve been to major cities so am thinking maybe Siena (or Tuscany in general), or como area or maybe bologna. But am totally open to ideas!
Basically would love to be a train away from a bigger city but stay in some village or country side walking distance to gelato, a market and playground

Open to anywhere really and maybe two different places. COuld do Starwood/ Marriot’s or rent a place (recommendations welcome). EVery agent I talk to just recommends very expensive luxury villas and I don’t need that.

Would love to hear stories, itineraries that might work for us.
shothyme77 is offline  
Old Nov 20th, 2017, 08:57 PM
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I spend a week in Tuscany with my husband, my 3 years daughter, my mother and my sister in Val d'Orcia.

http://www.cretaiole.it/index.php/

It was wonderful. But know, they don't have a pool.

You mentioned Lake Como. I like Varenna, a quiet pedestrian town on the shores. One year, we stayed at the Hotel Villa Cipressi.

http://www.hotelvillacipressi.it/en/
ToujoursVoyager is offline  
Old Nov 20th, 2017, 11:19 PM
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Siena is fantastic. I lived the small towns around ( San gimignano etc) but these were quite touristy.

Totally off topic congrats for your family ! I recommend waiting a few more years and making a fourth. Worked great for us ;-)
pariswat is offline  
Old Nov 21st, 2017, 12:37 AM
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Certainly one of the pleasures of this region is meeting the locals in their natural environment so I might avoid an American import unless your budget really cannot carry it.

Certainly avoid a TA unless they really have stayed at the spot. I'd use booking.com airbnb or agriturismo.it to find acc in the region (backed up by tripadvisor for the comments which need reading with an "open eye").

Certainly agri.. offer you some lovely places to stay but they tend not to be next to a station.

You'll also find that google maps offer you both train lines and hence stations and accom types as you focus in. Both your ideas are great for a holiday.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 09:26 AM
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It's not clear whether you'd be willing to rent a car. If not, I suggest that you stay in a town that has good transportation connections. Bologna is a major transportation hub, but it's absolutely not a village! Ferrara is a much smaller city, with a lot of charm and a ducal palace right in the center of town. It's a short train ride from Bologna. To get to many other places, you'd need to change trains in Bologna. In Ferrara, many people get around on bikes, but given the ages of your children, I don't know if bike rental would be realistic.

Siena, like Bologna, is a city, not a village, and for train and bus connections is not among the best.

As Bilbo says, agriturismi are rarely near a train station, and they can be a bit confining if you don't have a car.

Since you're interested in Tuscany, I would suggest Buonconvento. It's a nice small town (a little over 3000 inhabitants) with a train station that's an easy walk from the town center. (You'd need a stroller for the 3-year-old probably.) By train, it's just 25 minutes from Siena. In addition, it's a hub for buses going to many of the smaller iconic Tuscan towns, such as Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, and Siena. You could even visit Florence for the day, but it would be a fairly long trip. There's one direct morning train to Florence from Buonconvento, leaving at 8:17 and taking almost two hours to get there. You can also connect for Florence in Siena, but that makes the trip longer.

Certaldo and Poggibonsi would be other possibilities. Both are on the direct train line between Florence and Siena, but they're bigger towns. Certaldo has a beautiful historic center on a hill, but the train station is down in the valley, in a less charming part of town. Poggibonsi is a bus and train hub, with direct bus connections to San Gimignano, another iconic Tuscan hill town. The station in Poggibonsi is right in the center of town, but it's a fairly modern and built-up neighborhood.

For a family with children, I think Lake Garda would be more fun than Lake Como. There's a great amusement park (Gardaland) there, which my granddaughter (12 years old) says ranks with some of the best in the US. Most of the rides are for older kids, but there is a whole section for small children, and the whole park is quite attractive, with plenty of green. There are boat rides on the lake, and a cable car ride to the top of Mount Baldo would be fun. (I suggest going at noon or later, because there are often very long waits for the cable car in the morning.)

There are several train stations on Lake Garda. Peschiera del Garda is on the southern end of the lake, and is convenient for visits to Verona (15 minutes by train) and also for visits to Gardaland. (There are shuttle buses from the train station.) There are also direct trains to Venice from Peschiera del Garda, taking less than and hour and a half.

The northern end of the lake is more scenic than the lower end, where Peschiera del Garda is. From Peschiera to the northernmost part of the lake takes over two hours. By bus, it's little over an hour. You could take the boat to Malcesine in the morning, arriving in time to get the cable car to Monte Baldo without waiting too long in line, then you could take a bus even further north, to Riva del Garda, and return by bus.

Wherever you stay, make sure to confirm the transportation situation. You'll want to be near a train station or a bus depot if you won't have a car. If you're willing to rent a car, you'll have a lot more flexibility.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 09:30 AM
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I like Buonconvento too, an old bit, a market, restaurants and easy access.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 11:12 AM
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Rereading my post, I think I need to clarify that the "boat rides on the lake" are on Lake Garda, not on a lake inside Gardaland. I should have made a new paragraph there.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 01:48 PM
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My experience in travelling with small children is that less is more. You need [IMO] a place with a beach or pool, places to wander round to look at in the evening, and places to eat that the children will like or your own kitchen [but are you going to want to cook for yourselves every night?]

As for buses, I don't think that I'd want to be taking 3 kids on and off buses very often; a car would be a must for me. The only exception would be if I were staying next to a lake with a good boat service like Lake Garda; we spent a week in Garda itself and we could easily have stayed longer. I understand what others are saying about the top of the lake, but the problem with staying at either end is that the other end is quite difficult to get to and back in a day. If you stay at a town somewhere in the middle you can get to virtually anywhere on the lake and have enough time to explore.

There are loads of hotels in Garda and the other towns round the lake that have swimming pools and would make great bases for at least part of your stay.
annhig is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 02:23 PM
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For larger Tuscany towns like Siena and even smaller ones buses run a pretty good schedule if you don't want to rent a car. But a car would make more easy staying in say an Agro-Tourismo or whatever they call it - on a farm with a swimming pool often I believe.

https://www.agriturismo.it/en/farmhouse/tuscany

Trains are great between larger cities and places like Lake Como and Lake Garda (boats too once there) - for lots on Italian trains check www.trenitalia.com - official site of Italian State Railways; www.seat61.com (adroit advice on booking discounted tickets on high-speed trains; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

bvlenci, as evidenced by post above, is a font of knowledge on Italy and I would take her/his recommendations and takes seriously.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2018, 06:13 AM
  #10  
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Still working on this itinerary. Totally planning to rent car for the five of us. Still want a eeek in Tuscany, although ideally southern Tuscany bear prints. I’m not sure what to do with my other week...spend the time in Verona with day trips? Spend a day traveling and go to puglia? I have so many options running in my head. Part time at ageitpurismo and part time at villa?
shothyme77 is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2018, 07:36 AM
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I love puglia, but I'd not travel all the way to see it when I have Umbria and Emilia Romana so close
bilboburgler is offline  
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