Italy with Late Teen

Jan 10th, 2010, 06:25 PM
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Italy with Late Teen

For the past year or so, we have been talking about taking our 17 year old son to Italy for his high school graduation. We was really into the idea, even talking me into buying an Italian Rosetta Stone language series. Lately (past month) he seems less excited about the idea. He told me last night that he wants to make sure there is something HE will enjoy, not just sight seeing, churches, museums, etc. Wife and I were in Italy about 4 years ago, and looking back on it, we did do a lot of "old people" stuff. I realize that this would be his trip, not ours, and am racking my brain for ideas of stuff we might do for him to enjoy himself. Initially we had planned on Rome, Venice, Tuscany and a couple day jaunt to my grandfather's birth place in Molise. Nothing cast in stone yet, but he enjoys outdoor activities, so thinking about beaches, hiking, biking, etc. My 22 year old daughter thinks I should encourage him with the fact that he can drink alcohol in Italy. That isn't exactly the encouragment I need at this point.
jimcolorado is offline  
Jan 10th, 2010, 06:38 PM
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Abruzzo, south of Molise, has wonderful hiking. If it's late enough and hot enough, Campania, west of Molise, has wonderful beaches. Look into Abruzzo and Cilento National Parks. And even a 17-year-old boy should enjoy seeing the Colosseum.
Zerlina is offline  
Jan 10th, 2010, 06:41 PM
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If it's "his" trip - then maybe he should be planning it.

He 's a young adult - not a piece of luggage. Aim him at several student guides and web sites - Rough Guide Let's Go etc - and have him read them and figure out what HE wants to do. If he can;t come up with a list I think the trip would be a complete waste of time for him and PIA for you.

And sorry - churches, museums and historical sites are not "old people" stuff. I went with my boyfriend when I was 19 and he 23 - and we did all of those things. We also did a lot of cafe sitting with a drink enjoying watching the world go by, touring vinyards, biking in the countryside, swimming off the Amalfi coast, and lots of late dinners and romantic walks through piazzas with floodlit fountains after dinner.

Now- he won;t be going with a girlfriend, but I would assume he will want to take part in some of the local student nightlife - maybe suggest he start looking there - as well as with some "activity" days.

But if he wants no museums, churches or history - he shouldn't be heading to europe - it;s waste of money.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 10th, 2010, 07:01 PM
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I spent 3 weeks in Umbria with my then 19-year-old daughter and we had a blast, though be forewarned that we did what might be considered "girly" stuff a guy might not appreciate. We rented a very cool little chalet-style apartment outside Paciano in Umbria that had several pools, a weight room (she was a Division 1 athlete at the time, and that was essential), a sauna, and gardens. We spent four days visiting 3 different spas in southern Tuscany and northern Umbria (one very ritzy one with all kinds of beauty treatments and such and the others very rustic, in-the-hillsides places). We went to Assisi with a local guide, which was interesting, and we visited Chiusi and Perugia and Cortona and lots of small towns. We did a LOT of hiking, too. And tooled around Tuscany on the other days, or just hung out at our rented abode and got to know the locals.

But here's the thing: when my daughter found out I was planning this trip and said "Mom, I want to come along with you," the first thing I told her was that she needed to get some guidebooks and figure out what she wanted to do in the area. I didn't have a hard and fast plan for anything, and if she wanted to come, we had to agree on stuff to do together that we'd both enjoy, or at least alternate doing stuff I wanted with stuff she wanted. She ended up planning pretty much the whole trip for us, and it was brilliant. We didn't do a lot of churches or museums, but we did do a lot of markets and festivals and a concert or two and a wonderful boat ride out to the island off Lago Trasimeno, and we ate ourselves silly and had a blast at the spas.

I also made my daughter make her own plans to get from the USA to meet me in Chiusi, as I was going there ahead of her. That certainly put her in planning mode, along with making her make sure her cell phone would work in Italy. She took charge of all of that, and I must say, when she got off the train in Chiusi we were both SO grinning that she had pulled that off by herself!

Seems like you're trying to plan this trip for your son. Why not send him to the library or bookstore and let him plan it for you? At 17, he's definitely not keen on the family vacation idea, even if it's Italy, but if you place the planning onus on him and respect at least some of his input, it will probably be a win-win situation.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 10th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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Although he's not interested in "old people" stuff, I'm sure he wants to be treated as an adult, especially after he graduates. Well, there's nothing that says adulthood like planning your own vacation (except paying for it!) and being responsible for your own enjoyment of it.

I'd give him maps, a guidebook and a list of a few things you and your wife want to see/do (you ARE paying, after all) but leave a lot of the planning up to him. Tell him you'll help if he asks but this is a gift that should be what he wants. He may not see everything you think he should, but he will probably want to return. And the next time, he'll be older and more mature.

BTW, I don't think it could be a waste of money if you and your wife get a trip to Italy out of it. Just don't compare this trip to one you would make by yourselves.
Jean is offline  
Jan 10th, 2010, 09:46 PM
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I sure don't think Italy is "old people stuff". I've taken quite a number of teens, aged 14-18 to Italy, and they all loved it, especially Pompeii, Venice, and just walking in Rome, but they were in a group with other kids their age. I think that really helps. Does your son have a friend or family member his age who would like to pay their own way and go with you? Perhaps he even has a friend whose parents would also like to go.

As others have said, letting him do the planning also helps. The teens I took all read guide books, watched films, and knew a lot about what they were going to see. They understood the historical importance and artistic significance of buildings, monuments, etc. Your son will get a lot more out of it if he is invested, with your help.

If that really doesn't work, maybe a different country or different type of trip would be more worth while. Maybe hiking in Switzerland or Peru, for example, would be more interesting to him. I am not kidding here. He sounds like a kid who might enjoy a bit of adventure.
Sassafrass is online now  
Jan 11th, 2010, 01:08 AM
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If you spend some of your time around the lakes then there are plenty of activities as well as site seeing. Thsi will give you an idea of some of the things that are available
alihutch is offline  
Jan 11th, 2010, 05:47 AM
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Really hard to tell from your post what cooled his enthusiasm.

Personally, I wouldn't push him. I'd tell him you are open to hearing more about what is and isn't "old people stuff" (I don't like doing it either, actually). If they guidebooks you already own haven't helped you out, maybe you should look for some other ones (Lonely Planet?), but I would drive him to look at them.

You should also tell him you are open to not going to Italy at all right now -- or that he doesn't have to join you if you and your wife are still keen to go.

Could you afford to bring one of his friends? (Or could any afford to come?)
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 11th, 2010, 05:55 AM
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Sorry for my typo! I meant to type it would be better NOT to drive him to look at guidebooks.

As long as I'm at it, I'll add: I've seen members of families who genuinely enjoy doing things other members of the family have little interest it -- and vice versa: Sometimes the whole family but one loves some activity, and it can get hard for the outlier -- even if its only a temporary mood -- not to have their feelings respected.

I've also seen teens in particular lose enthusiasm for some fun idea if the enthusiasm ended up becoming a major family focus. Likewise, I've seen teens start to act indifferent towards something if they suddenly bumped up against the reality that what looked easy to ace (like learning a language) might turn into a failure.

And of course 90 percent of a teens life is inivisible, so maybe he just found a new passion he doesn't want to be away from.

I'd just invite him to talk it over more when he feels like it.
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 11th, 2010, 06:54 AM
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It also occurfed to me to add that I should add something about "old people stuff."

I don't know what it means to your son, but when I say I don't like it, I mean I don't like trips down memory lane. I wouldn't want to go on a trip where the people I was with had seen everything already and were hovering, waiting to see my delighted reaction. I'd rather take a trip where everything was new to everybody, and we were all in a process of discovery. But that's just me.

Italians are so great about greeting long-lost relatives that I would look forward to tracking down Italian relatives if I had any. But were I teen, with no experience of Italy, I might be worried seeing old relatives or doing ancestor research didn't sound like much fun.

But who knows what teenagers think!
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 11th, 2010, 08:09 AM
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I was in your exact situation with my son. (We had an incredible time.)
As others have said he should be reading up on what he wants to see. One tip is to look at day tour offerings (Viatour is a good source.) See what day tours are popular and what they are seeing, this might strike his interest. (For example, Venice and Rome have night "ghost" walks.) My son had to be in charge of the map and he did plan some of the days. He just took charge, it was great. I would recommend letting him make a lot of decisions instead of being lead around by mom and dad. Booking tours can also be a good idea. He'll probably pay more attention seeing the Colosseum with an interesting guide rather than a book or you explaining it. (There will be other teens on the tours also.)
Churches and museums do get tiring for a teen, but he will enjoy the markets, restaurants, etc. We didn't visit all the museums had to offer but we saw the highlights. That's enough for most teens. He will have a great time looking in stores and markets. My son got pretty excited about the leather jackets and saved up his money to buy one. Little things like a visit to a grocery store are fun. I put my two boys in charge of lunch. We had sandwich fixings, cheese, champagne and cookies. Best lunch ever. I found that we didn't need to see all the "musts" in museums, etc. We took more time for everyday things and kids notice so much.
Of course, you don't want to encourage drinking but your daughter has a point. Perhaps he could have a little wine or beer at a bar.
End of senior year is overwhelming to most kids as I'm sure you know. Perhaps he's worn out by talking about the trip, maybe there's a girl he doesn't want to be away from, etc.
You don't say if your daughter will be coming with you. If she is, then they could go out on their own some evenings. My son had his younger brother for company.
Good luck, I'm sure it will work out. One last tip, the best thing I did was to agree with my son that the ipod was only for use while in transit (plane or train). He pretty much never used it the entire trip. He also didn't have internet access and enjoyed the freedom from technology. He also enjoyed being treated as more of an adult.
Lynnaustin is offline  
Jan 11th, 2010, 08:45 AM
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Tricky, tricky, tricky...

Sounds like you need to have a talk. Better to understand where he is coming from now and iron things out than to have a hanging face all over Italy. I think it's a good idea to have him read some guidebooks, but if he is anything like my daughter was senior year this may just be one more item on a long list of things to do - exams, college apps, etc. etc. Maybe save the talk until the spring break.

I like the idea of choosing a different country or at least different places than Mom and Dad already saw. Also, you know your son - if he is not into museums, history, churches etc and you are, can you change the focus to things he might like?? Perhaps he would like a little time at a language program or doing some water sports with other teens while you go hit the churches?

Don't worry too much about the alcohol and think of it as part of his preparation for college. Italians are moderate drinkers and what a nice time for him to learn how to consume alcohol properly. We live in Europe and I loved that my teens could learn how to drink while they still lived with me.

I have one teen who LOVES history and museums and the other who finds them painful. We travel a lot so I have found that exotic destinations - Morocco, Tanzania, Egypt are better for the one who doesn't want to hang in museums and enjoys bargaining in a bazaar, watching crafts being made, taking a boat ride. Rome, Paris, Florence are better for the other...

Also, 'museum' is a broad term. Perhaps he would love Pompeii which is really a huge museum, no? My non-museum lover really enjoys ruins of any sort.

I wish you luck on this. Tread lightly and be open to his comments. And I agree senior year is a delicate time. You are losing him and that creates issues for you. He is leaving home and that creates different issues for him.

Let us know what happens!

good luck!!

gruezi is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 10:44 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback. Gruezi, thanks for your kind and insightful analysis. You are correct in that he is pretty overwhelmed right now facing graduation, college apps, and test scores, etc. I don’t know if I could get him to look a guide book right now. He is really a very cooperative traveler, and fun to travel with. Originally, my side of the family was/is going through the dual Italian citizenship process, and we were hoping that it would have come through before the trip, but that has now fallen victim to the Italian bureaucracy. I know he is a little disappointed, as am I. Looking back on our (wife and I) trip, it was more geared to museums and churches and even I got a little haggard. “If this is Tuesday afternoon, this has be the Santa Maria Maggiore.” I heard through a friend that son has been asked to go to Mexico with some older college friends, and I’m afraid that ain’t going to happen. I was really looking for some activities that he might enjoy that hadn’t occurred to me. I like the Lonely Planet books, they are a little off-beat and could offer some great suggestions.

I suppose it’s possible that he might pick an entirely different destination at this point, and I’m OK with that I guess.
jimcolorado is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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Take a look at the website
They seem to have some different things to do, like rafting outside of Rome. (I know nothing about them but it looked like a possiblity.) Venice and Rome are great choices for teens. Mine have loved both of them. Venice has the Lido beaches, Secret Itineraries tour, night time ghost walk, speed boat rides, and tons of teens girls on the Rialto Bridge all day long.
Rome has the great ruins at Ostia Antica, Angels and Demons tour, Rome mystery night walk, Gladiator school, pizza in the windows, bike tours, Segway tours, wine cave tour, etc.
My point is that I think you can have an incredible time with your son without having to rack your brain for fun teen activities. Staying up late and walking around is totally fun for U.S. teens who aren't used to seeing all of the people/families out and about so late. He will meets lots of other teens in the plaza, etc. and can do the "where are you from, where are you going to college, etc. teen talk".
Make him choose parts of the day including what kind of food to eat and what part of town to stroll. You can spend hours people watching and in the markets.
If you want a really big splurge you can always do hot air ballooning in Tuscany.
Now about that trip to Mexico....mine finally gave up asking after 4 years. The new thing is a party cruise, that's a big NO also!
Lynnaustin is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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Lynnaustin, Great tips, I feel refreshed about this, armed with some ideas to discuss with him. BTW, if you're not excited about the party cruise, you might want to be aware of the Cougar Cruise apparently run by a major cruise line. Use your imagination on that one.
jimcolorado is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 02:48 PM
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I can understand his being overwhelmed with other things, too. It sounds like you have some ideas about what he enjoys - outdoors, active activities. Something that we haven't done, but that's been on my list for a while, is to rent bikes and ride them on the Appian Way (in Rome), which is closed to cars on Sundays.

To help both of you, come up with a short list of 5 or so possibilities, maybe with some website links, of things you or he might do in Italy, to continue to spark his interest.

If he's a runner, then he can go running. I love running on vacation; I see different things, and at a time of day (7 am) that not many others are out.

And not to start an entire drinking issue here on the post, but you could use his time in Italy to demonstrate responsible drinking, and invite him to share with you in a bottle of wine with dinner.
Lexma90 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 02:57 PM
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I just came back from Rome with my 16 & 18 yo sons.
My 16 yo was NOT excited until shortly before the trip as he wanted to go scuba diving. The 18 yo was very excited after talking to his friends (he is a college freshman). I tried to engage them with movies and guidebooks before the trip but with mid-terms & finals that did NOT happen.
The good news is that they both LOVED it. The food, the people, the history, even to my surprise, the art. We walked everywhere and were out until midnight every night.
Good Luck!
eyemom84 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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Jim- yes I did read about those cruises. Those just didn't appeal to him!!
I forgot to mention one fun thing that we do. My two kids always bring a small pocket-size camera. They take pictures of whatever they want. I told them the first time that just shoot what they want to show their friends and I probably wouldn't even look at them. They did that and actually couldn't wait to show me. Among the expected German signs (einfart, etc.), dogs jumping into boat in Venice, naked mannequins (you get the picture, teen boys), etc. they had amazing shots of sunsets, flower markets, food in windows,etc.
It was wonderful to see things through their eyes and I was very surprised at the history/architecture sites that they noticed.
Of course, you must watch "Eurotrip" and that gets them excited about the Vatican!
Lynnaustin is offline  
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