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Midway between Rome and Venice for three-generation family vacation?

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Dec 6th, 2015, 04:36 PM
  #1
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Midway between Rome and Venice for three-generation family vacation?

My daughter & son-in-law have been "invited" to a trip to Italy summer 2017 by his parents, who will also include their own daughter & son-in-law. The four kids will be 7, 10, 14 and 18. Two older boys with one family, and two younger girls with the other. They asked for my assistance, as we travel to Europe regularly and have been to Italy 3-4 times and like to do our own research and plans. The parents never travel but have taken a few tours; everything will have to be set out for them clearly. My daughter and son-i-l want to rent a villa for everyone midway between Rome & Venice or thereabouts. A car or two will be rented, but train travel would also be preferred for day trips for some of the group. It will be for a short time, 7-10 days max, so visiting these two cities will be plenty. It seemed more cohesive to base out of a villa in a pretty village rather than hotel rooms for a few nights here and there. We have been to Tuscany (based in Montecatini), Venice (based there as well as in Padua), Como, Rome and south to the Amalfi Coast (daughter and son-in-law will save that for a couples vacation another time). Is there a town that jumps out at you, my favorite Fodorites that fills the bill? There is plenty of time to tweak itineraries or for them to leave everything to a travel agent, but I find this Forum much more informed frankly. Thanks, all.
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Dec 6th, 2015, 04:49 PM
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WE did exactly this type of mutigenerational trip planning for our family a few years back. We spent countless hours on it. In the end( after grandkids voted on Italy over Spain and Portugal)we rented a large villa with swimming pool in Panzano, half way between Florence and Siena. The kids could walk into town from the villa too. We rented three cars and did day trips and always returned back to swim in the pool. It all worked perfectly. A pool is a must with kids, especially after they have been OUT sightseeing in the car.
I can't say enough about the real estate agent who helped us, Karin Dietz of www.chianti-and-more.com. Her office is in Panzano center but the villas range out around the Chianti region. The properties she lists are only represented by her and she knows them each well. She is listed under Florence's BBB and Anthony Bourdain rented villas from her for he and his crew when filming their Tuscany shows. Karin responded to email questions immediately and was very helpful. There were no problems at all.
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Dec 6th, 2015, 09:21 PM
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I'm not sure I understand. Is the entire trip going to be 7-10 days? Is the idea to spend the entire time at this villa, or are the 7 to 10 days in addition to time spent in Venice and Rome? And, finally, if the entire time will be spent at the villa, is the idea to make day trips to Rome and Venice?
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Dec 6th, 2015, 09:28 PM
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Panzano may be a wonderful place to stay (although I've never been there). However, it's not halfway between Rome and Venice, and it's not convenient to a train station. I believe the closest station is in Florence, which is reachable by bus (about an hour).
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Dec 6th, 2015, 11:42 PM
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How did you like your stay in Montecatini? Because if the family wants a combination of countryside, pool + access to trains, that area is good for that -- or on the outskirts of Lucca or Pistoia. You can take trains to Pisa and Florence.

It is something of a dogleg west from the direct route between Rome and Vence, but still might be the best option for access to trains.

Another possibility is to get a villa or agriturismo with a pool in the countryside around Bologna/Modena/Ferrara. You will not get the same scenery, but there is fascinating sightseeing and delicious food in that area, plus good accesss to trains.

But if you are thinking of a villa stay for less than a week, a short-term rental for a villa can be hard to find. The group should instead look for an agritursimo with apartments on the property. Even better yet is to find one that also has a restaurant, because otherwise you need to spend a lot of time shopping and cleaning up (unless you go to the expense of hiring a cook). Shopping in the countryside of Italy is often very time consuming. Not a lot of supermarkets, and small food shops are closed for hours in the middle of the day.
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Dec 7th, 2015, 12:11 AM
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Also, just to be clear: Villas are not in towns. So if they want a priavate home plus amenities of a town with a train station, but still have cars and places to park them, it's a tall order. You might find places on the periphery of Lucca, Pistoia, Montecatini, or along the train line between Florence and Arezzo. Much closer to Rome you could look around Chiusi and Orvieto. Or you could look for a place near Fiesole and use the Florence train station.

If everybody likes to bicycle, staying in the residentia areas of Ferrara could be ideal.
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Dec 7th, 2015, 03:26 PM
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Believe the entire trip to be 7-10 days, with day trips from the villa, perhaps a night or two in Rome as arrival/departure city; too early to predict what they'll choose to do at this point, just want to look at possibilities. Yes, I realize the villas are not in cities, they would have to have at least one car. We loved Montecatini and took train back and forth to Florence from there. Thanks for some basics so I can start some research. Thank you very much for the realtor reference. And yes, a pool is mandatory as summer travel will be hot.
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Dec 7th, 2015, 04:22 PM
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If they are thinking of doing Venice as a day trip from the villa, they will need to stay north of Bologna at a minimum. If they want rolling hills scenery, then the Eugenean hills outside of Padova might do, but little train access there. Simpler would be to stay nearer to Ferrara to be able to catch the train in. Rather than drive all the way there from Rome, suggest taking the fast train to at least Bologna, and picking up cars there.

If air tickets haven't been bought, would advise open-jaw rather than arriving and departing from Rome.

If air tickets have already been bought, and therefore the group must arrive in Rome and depart from Rome, and the group wants to see Venice, one option might be to go directly from Rome to Venice by fast train upon arrival in Italy I think it might be possible to now get a direct train from the airport to Venice in less than 4 hours. But depending on where the group is flying in from, might be too long a journey.
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