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March break w/teenage boy - skip Florence?

March break w/teenage boy - skip Florence?

Old Jan 14th, 2020, 06:50 AM
  #1  
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March break w/teenage boy - skip Florence?

Planning to take my 16 yr old son on first trip to Italy. Arriving Venice March 17, departure out of Rome morning of March 29 (constrained by upgrade availability on Alitalia, sadly). Son has mild tolerance for museums and churches, but is more into food, wandering, people watching and monuments. It's a bit tight to fit in 3 cities and I'm contemplating skipping Florence. Bad idea? Scandalous, I know. But if we did three nights Venice (17, 18, 19), train to Florence on 20th and night of 20, 21st there, train to Rome on the 22nd...that doesn't leave all that much time for Rome. Nights of 22, 23, 24, 25, but really only 3 full days in Rome. Seems too little to me. Opinions? Am I wrong to spend 3 nights in Venice? Many thanks!
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 08:33 AM
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I don't understand your counting of your days. Unless March 29 was a typo for the day you fly back, if you do three nights in Venice and two in Florence, that leaves you seven nights in Rome.

As far as skipping Florence, how does your son feel about that? You could show him some of the things you would see there and see if he is interested.

Three nights is definitely not too long for Venice!

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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 09:34 AM
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It doesn't have to be scandalous to skip Florence. I have no desire ever to return there (granted, I put in my time there on many a trip back in the 80s), so it's not everyone's cup of tea. Go where YOU (and your son) want to go.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 09:46 AM
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There's nothing scandalous about skipping anything, I wish more people would personalize their travel experiences instead of slavishly following someone else's approved itinerary. I agree that you should show your son a guidebook to see if there's anything he'd like to see in Florence. He probably would enjoy seeing the outside of the Duomo, but the inside is probably not very interesting to him; most of its works of art are now inside the Museum of the Duomo, nearby. The Baptistery is worth going into, and I recommend the Museum of the Duomo, which also has interesting exhibits about the construction of the Duomo and its cupola. A single ticket covers both of these, as well as climbing the bell tower, or to the top of the cupola. (There are often long lines for these, though.)

Even one night in Florence would allow you to see a great deal, if you leave Venice early and take a later train to Rome the next day. It's even possible to leave Venice early in the morning, and depart for Rome that evening, leaving your luggage at the left-luggage facility in the train station while you have a look at Florence. Central Florence is very compact, and the train station is a short walk from the Duomo. I did something similar when I had my teenage cousins from the US visiting me. We left our home in Le Marche early in the morning (an even longer trip than from Venice) and stopped over in Florence en route to Rome. In the limited time we had, we saw the Ponte Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria, where the replica of Michelangelo's Moses is displayed. (It's a very good replica, by the way, so you needn't feel obligated to see the original unless you're a serious student of art.) We also saw the outside of the Duomo, and went into the Baptistery. We didn't rush at all.

Then, before catching our train to Rome, we visited the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, very near the train station, and a veritable treasure chest of great Renaissance art. The last time I was there, a volunteer was offering free guided tours, and he told us that they often had English-speaking volunteers as guides. Even if you can't find a guide there, a good guide book will show you the great masterpieces inside. For your son, it would be a painless introduction to Renaissance art, because he could see the whole thing in half an hour.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 12:45 PM
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We had 4 nights in Florence with our teenage boys and didn’t go into a single museum.
We walked around, went to our local food market (a small one), I went to Lucca one day, every time we passed one of those long queues we felt very happy we weren’t joining them. Sure we missed the art and the museums, but our kids still talk about loving the vibe, the architecture, the squares.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 12:48 PM
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I'm also confused about the number of days in Rome... Are you flying out on the 26th or the 29th?

There is slavishly following someone else's idea of an itinerary, and then there is planning a trip around a teenager's tolerances. It's your trip too (and you're paying for it), so if you want to visit Florence (even if only for one full day) then go to Florence! The kid won't perish, and he will likely absorb something of value.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 01:00 PM
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My son went to Florence on a school trip when he was 14. I don't think he went near a museum. The instruction from the school was remember which way the river flows and you won't get lost, and they were left to explore Florence for a couple of days. Others in his group did visit museums, the Duomo etc etc but he and his mate just enjoyed walking the city and experiencing it. Neither spoke a word of Italian (none of them did) but they survived just fine.
If you don't want to go, or your son doesn't want to go then don't. If you do go you do not have to go into a museum or a church or anywhere you don't want to, in Venice, Florence or Rome.
Not everyone wants to spend their time in museums and churches when visiting a city (any city anywhere in the world). I know I don't, so I can sympathise with your son. You could decide that you want to visit a museum and agree to meet up with him again afterwards soewhere. He is sixteen and old enough to explore on his own for a while.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 02:21 PM
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As others have noted, your schedule of days seems a bit off, But as for skipping Florence...

If you were going to visit Florence, you'd probably want to have a plan about what you're going to see/do and run it by the teen. Is there something that appeals to him? Besides that, there is another take on whether or not he should see Florence. Sometimes you have to force-feed a little culture into kids. It opens their eyes to the world and makes them appreciate it later. I probably wouldn't drag him through the Uffizi, but seeing David or climbing to the top of the Duomo and viewing the city from there might be one of those "remember the time we ..." experiences.

It's your call, of course. Just mentioning another facet.

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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 05:00 PM
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I wouldn't feel any compulsion to visit Florence if it doesn't fit your wishes and you feel time pressured. Like bvlenci, we once stopped for the day in Florence enroute between Rome and Venice. Yes, it was fleeting but we'd both been there before and we enjoyed the day. There are very few must-dos, must-sees when it comes to travel.

I've travelled with my kids at that age and found that they love to also be in a more rural environment and do something more active like hiking or cycling. If you prefer to stick with just two places to stay (Venice and Rome), you could consider adding time to Venice and doing some day trips to smaller towns.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 05:01 PM
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I meant day trips to smaller places from either Venice or Rome - both have options.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 06:51 PM
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I would give more time to Venice and give Florence a miss. Venice is fun for young people, no cars, getting around by boat, getting lost.

If you take a day trip to Padua, the botanical gardens are worth a look, more specifically the new greenhouse, which is arranged to demonstrate five microclimates, wet tropical to dry desert.

Orto botanico di Padova | OrtoBotanico di Padova
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 12:30 AM
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nothing scandalous about skipping anything.
What would be scandalous is to skip something YOU want to see because of the snotty attitude of someone else.

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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 04:57 AM
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You're right - apparently I need to learn to count. We return on March 29. Think I need to add a night in Venice! Thank you.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 04:58 AM
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Very instructive ideas here, thank you so much. Yes, the outside of buildings generally works well with boys!!
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 05:14 AM
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Great ideas here - thank you all very much - tried to reply to individual posters, but I don't think I did that correctly. Yes, we return on March 29 so I was miscounting the number of days - we have 12 nights once there. I will definitely add one to Venice and discuss Florence with him since we have time for a night or even two. And he is completely willing to go to museums, just not an endless string of them and he doesn't linger (like his father, who has to peer at every single thing and read all the descriptions...we retreat to a cafe when he does this...)
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 08:51 AM
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In a town like Florence, I wouldn't feel compelled to stay together. The main sights are within a fairly small area, and it would be easy to each head in different directions and meet up a couple of hours later in one of the main piazzas.

FWIW, if your son has any interest in history, he would probably walking through the Basilica of Santa Croce where many of the most famous Italians in history are entombed or honored. If you go there, look for a line painted on the walls near the entry doors. The line marks the highest level of the flood of 1966. This event sparked a huge change in art conservation.

https://www.thelocal.it/20191104/in-...ence-arno-1966
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 12:34 PM
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Two museums in Venice that are worth a look are the naval museum and the marine museum. Both near the Arsenale.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 01:34 PM
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FWIW, if your son has any interest in history, he would probably walking through the Basilica of Santa Croce ...


Thank you so much - he absolutely loves history and I'll show him this suggestion. Sounds like a great idea.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter_S_Aus View Post
Two museums in Venice that are worth a look are the naval museum and the marine museum. Both near the Arsenale.
Thank you for suggesting marine & naval museums!!

Anybody have any opinion on hotels in the under $300 range (mid-March, so the rates seem to be a tad lower)? He likes to be smack in the middle of things and we both want to be right on the canal (a canal?) unless that's impossible in this price range. Noise doesn't really bother us too much. We both like charming places with a sense of history. I've read that you can arrive from the airport by boat?? Very appealing. And, importantly, do all hotels in Venice have bars? That's also important!
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 02:59 PM
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Most hotels in Italy (at least those I've been to!) have the very important bar . . . small as it may be, and often times a combo coffee and alcohol bar.

Are you going as three or just you and your son?

If you just want to split your time between Rome and Venice, that is what you should do. Florence will still be there when you go back another time.

I ask about how many, because when we took our son to Italy for a second time, he'd just started his teens. So the rooms become smaller due to the larger people in the room. In Venice, we stayed at the Hotel American (horrible name, right?!) in the Dorsoduro area and I have no trouble recommending it for a variety of reasons. It hits all your points (for a triple or a double room): on a canal, some rooms have canal views, breakfast included, walking distance from everything, bar, and in budget. Walk across the bridge to San Marco. Lots of restaurants, bars, etc. around. Vapretto stop. We've actually stayed there twice.

My son's favorite things in Venice. Well, aside from walking across the Rialto Bridge staring at the teenage girls, was St. Mark's square, finding the perfect pizza place, and getting lost! A thought of a day trip from Venice might be Verona. Our son had been studying a little Shakespeare, and was stoked going there. Ancient arena smack dab in the middle of the place, small, easy to walk around, Juliet's home, a beautiful town! Trains from Venice take about an hour, and there are several trains a day. Best pizza ever!
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