Italy with Mom (85)

Old Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:07 PM
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Italy with Mom (85)

Mom is going to Italy with my brother and me. We've been there before. Going in October. Want to plan smart so we don't wear her out! Thinking of Venice for a couple days, then Tuscany region, then Rome. I've always walked a lot when traveling but realize I need to modify somewhat so we don't overdo.

Need ideas for tour in Rome (Vatican, major sites) as I'm thinking that will help on the walking if we have someone navigate the lines, etc.

Also, where to stay in Tuscany and a nice tour that would take us to small hill towns.

All ideas welcomed! Thank you so much! (by the way, Mom is in good health and walks fine--just want to plan smart!)
Ducko is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:36 PM
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Group tours are a really bad idea with your mom. They have to move at a set speed and if someone can;t keep up they will find themselves sitting in a cafe - or on the bus - and not seeing much - while the group moves faster,

When you need to accommodate for your mom is either organize private tours (expensive) that will meet her needs or make your own plans and use door to door taxis to minimize her walking getting to places as well as touring them.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 12:06 AM
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Venice needs walking. If mom gets tired you cannot simply call a taxi....
asps is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 01:51 AM
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On your previous trips to Italy, did you tour the major sites in Rome? If your mother has her heart set on seeing them, then it is better if you plan to do one major sight per day, and for the Vatican, see if you can talk your Mom into using a wheelchair for just that one day inside the museums. If you make a reservation for 3pm and go in the last part of the day to the Vatican Museums, the lines should not be bad. Take a taxi to the entrance. It is otherwise a very long walk.

But if detailed sightseeing is not your mother's great joy in life, you might do much better to pick a few nice neighborhoods to explore --- go in the churches, enjoy the fountains, do some window shopping -- and otherwise do the Hop on Hop off bus.

I agree that Venice can be tiring, with many steps and pushy crowds of tourists. In October, I would also be worried about the onset of the acqua alta season (tidal flooding).

Personally, were it me, I would consider simply going to Umbria, and staying in a nice flat town like Bevagna with a car. You can visit small towns but you can also visit spectacular art sites like Assisi. If you stay in an apartment or an agriturismo that serves meals, you get a lot of flexibility about eating. Many older people really dont enjoy eating a huge Italian meal at 8pm. If your mom likes beautiful farm scenery, you could pick Pienza or San Quirico d'Orcia in southern Tuscany.
stevewith is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 02:48 AM
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Pienza is flat and there are several restaurants in the small town so I found it an ideal choice for a base. It is indeed in a lovely area.

You can buy Vatican tickets on line so you don't need to wait in line to buy tickets. If she is a slow walker (I would expect nothing less at 85) then it will be difficult for her to keep up with a tour. You can get the audio tour and go at your own pace.

Perhaps a cane with an attached seat so she can sit and rest for a few minutes whenever she needs to.
adrienne is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 04:10 AM
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Private tours are expensive, but possibly worth it in this situation. Has she expressed to you what she wants to see?
wrenwood is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 05:47 AM
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For a private tour of Tuscany, try Luca at Many people here (including me) have used and recommend him.

Can't recommend private tours in Rome or Venice. You say she
"walks fine" so I'd suggest you try not to do too much. Visit one major attraction per day. And as one poster noted, you can buy timed tix for some attractions to avoid long lines.

Relax often, have a leisurely meal in someplace like the Piazza Navona, stop for coffee. It'll do all of you a lot of good.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 05:49 AM
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Venice is a fair bit of walking but you could splash out on Vaperetto, Taxis and Gondo. I'd hate to push an 85 year old person into the maelstrom that is Venice's back streets. So expect to push out the boat (pun intended). There is a small hotel just by the bus and train station in Venice which was being expanded last year. That might be of interest if you are taking the train on.

Thinking about hilled cities and access for the less fit, some of the hilled cities can be pretty steep, for instance 1've walked Siena and Cortona with a major lung illness and felt like I was going to pass out. Some cities have very limited driving space or even banned-car areas.

Since these problems exist in a lot of Tuscany I'd have very careful think about where to go to, you might prefer to visit say Bologna or Mantua which is more access friendly.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Florence [unless you go over to Oltrarno] is pretty flat, as is Pisa, though both may be too crowded for your mother's comfort and taxis in Florence cost a lot due to the appalling traffic.

The centre of Rome is also flat and may not be so crowded; taxis are relatively cheap.

but i think that you would be better off with somewhere smaller like Pienza where you mum can wander around in comfort, sit at a cafe and watch people. if you go to the same place 2 nights in a row the staff will greet you, she will feel more comfortable, and you'll all be happy.

I suggest using somewhere like that as a base for the majority of your trip, perhaps starting in Florence and ending in Rome?
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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Thanks for the tips so far. Will definately look into some of the towns mentioned.

If anyone has done any of the smaller van-size tours, I would appreciate feedback on those. Also, did not spend much time at all in Florence previously. Mom not too into art--is Florence a must-see?
Ducko is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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We just finished a great trip with my Mom (73). In Rome we used Marta Marcelli and she was fantastic! We used her for the tour of the Colosseum and the Forum, but I wished we had taken advantage of her knowledge for the Vatican as well. I can strongly recommend her service! By the way, my Mom was the one who made us all climb the Dome at St. Peter's! "We are only here once!" Have a great trip!
In Venice we had a private guide, Monica Bittante, and she was fabulous as well. That day was a little long for my Mom in the heat, but Monica made sure we had shade to stand in while she filled us in on the real Venice.
willowjane is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2013, 02:52 PM
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We used Emilio Menastre for a private tour of Rome. He drove us right to the sites with a special pass, and purchased tickets for us. This would be expensive but would solve any problems your mother may have negotiating her way through Rome.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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I was not much into art before going to Europe. I am now not really "into" it, we don't usually go to museums as such (except The Vatican) but in Italy the Art will be all around you.

I would think you could skip Florence. I enjoyed it but didn't find it as fascinating as Rome, Tuscany, and Venice.

I agree that in Venice don't try to do a lot of walking. The Vaporettos are easy, you just buy a pass. And using them you KNOW you are in Venice!

I think HappyTrvlr has the right idea for Rome, get a private tour where you will be driven right to the sites. It's not only the amount of walking but many of the areas are uneven also.
wrenwood is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2013, 02:12 PM
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I think it is lovely you are taking your Mom on this trip. I would try to get her input, as much as possible, as to sights she really wants to see. Florence is actually pretty compact. What are her goals for the trip?
I am very glad you are not going in the heat of the summer!
KTtravel is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2013, 04:51 PM
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My mom is older than yours but very spry. The thing I've notice in recent years is that she's OK for a somewhat ambitious day but then needs to be less busy (or do very little) the next day.

You know your mom best, but I would definitely schedule some quiet afternoons (or perhaps full days) here and there throughout your trip.

Also, my mom likes to eat dinner early. Very early. If late dining won't work for your mom, I suggest you look into staying in apartments wherever possible.
Jean is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2013, 05:04 PM
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i have been several times with my mom to italy...and elsewhere - we do an annual mother/daughter trip. i agree with skipping florence. spend more time in tuscany exploring all the beautiful villages. a few favorites are volpaia, montalcino and montepulciano.

a GREAT place to stay near san gimignano is:

they are like small apartments, so you can have your own room..a nice little kitchen and AMAZING VIEWS!
zooey1118 is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2013, 06:18 AM
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We siblings take our mom on a holiday every year, she's 78 and loves to travel and see new places. However she's a slow walker and we try and avoid the big group tours, also do only one major site every day, with a couple of hours of down time. Sometimes she prefers to we sit down with a glass of wine at a terrace cafe and people watch while we do the more strenuous bits.
geetika is offline  
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