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Please help! Italy advice for trip with LOTS of kids!

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Dec 30th, 2015, 08:44 AM
  #1
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Please help! Italy advice for trip with LOTS of kids!

Hi everyone! I would be so thankful if I could get some advice for our trip in June to Italy.
Four adults (37,37,37, and 41) and eight kids (2,2,6,7,13,13,15,17)

We are flying into Milan and renting a car for first part of trip in Italy. We are staying five nights in a house in the Dolomite Mountains (near Madonna di Campiglio). Any advice for day trips?

We are driving to Venice and spending a night there (and drop off our car rental).

We will then take the train to the Cinque de Terre (Montrosso) where we are renting a villa for five nights. We want to take a day trip to Pisa and Florence. Any advice for day trips here?

We will then take the train to Rome and stay there for three nights. Any advice here for kids?

Thanks so much!!!! We are also spending a week in Copenhagen so if you have any advice for that too, that would be great!
Thanks!
Christa
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Dec 30th, 2015, 09:14 AM
  #2
 
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If the weather is fine, you could easily spend all 4 days at Madonna di Campiglio.
Possible day trips: Lake Garda (Riva del Garda), may be with some boat rides. Vineyards (and small beaches) of Lake Caldaro. Bolzano/Bozen. Trento.
What do you plan to visit at Florence with all your kids? Florence is 1 1/2 hrs by train from Rome, BTW.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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We spent a lovely 3 days in Bolzano. The kids would enjoy the gondola ride and the iceman museum.

IMO the trip to Venice is a waste. Drop it and add that night to Rome, where you only have just over 2 days (it will take the majority of a day to get from CT to Rome). Drive back to Milan and take the train from there to CT.

A day trip to Pisa and Florence from Montorosso is very ambitious, especially with so many kids. The train from La Spezia to Florence takes 2 hours each way. Why not just enjoy the CT while you are there?

You will need to rent 2 vans to accommodate a group of your size, especially with 2 carseats
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Dec 30th, 2015, 09:31 AM
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My first thought is not about day trips, but rather that thank goodness you have a good ratio of adults to kids! Second thought is what kind of car are you thinking of renting? Even a van won't handle everyone, plus luggage, plus toddler equipment.

Since you have a big spread on the ages of the kids, I hope your group is open to splitting up and doing different activities from both your villa bases.

I assume your villa on the Cinque Terre has parking and easy driving access in/out? Does this mean it's on the coast, but not right IN one of the 5 towns?

Your choice of rental locations make it sound like you all enjoy the outdoors and hiking. Both areas should have enough to keep you busy with hiking, boating, sightseeing. Lots of very scenic tram rides in the Dolomiti, but what will you do with the toddlers? Who is staying behind?

Train from one of the Cinque Terre towns to Pisa would take around 1.5 hours depending on which town you are near.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 09:32 AM
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Are planning to drive to the Dolomiti right after getting off the plane? Will you be arriving jet-lagged? If so, a 4-hour drive to a mountain location is too long a drive, especially with small children. Suggest spending your first night either by Lago Maggiore or in Milan or Verona. Rent a car after you've had a night's sleep.

Are you prepared to rent more than one car? Many of the children will need car seats. As soon as possible you should call a rental broker like AutoEurope to make sure you get the right vehicle(s) with the right safety equipment.

Logistically, going west to Venice, moving all the luggage out of the car for one night, then moving all the luggage onto the train the next morning makes very little sense. Either drop Venice or spend time there.

Have you already booked the villa in Monterosso al Mare? It is an extremely long train journey with several train changes to get from Venice to le Cinque Terre. Moving that many children and luggage through Italian train stations in June is not easy. In addition, the towns of le Cinque Terre are not toddler-friendly, and the sun is very strong in June in that part of Italy. If your villa rental is refundable, consider a better location.

If you haven't already bought air tickets or paid money to book villas, I would suggest you re-think this trip entirely. If you cannot change air tickets at this point, I suggest you drop le CInque Terre and get a villa on the Lido Island in Venice instead. Spend more time in Rome. See Florence on a day trip from Rome.

If have booked these villas and can't get out of it, then drive from Madonna di Campiglio to Monterosso al Mare, but plan to spend the night somewhere near Cremona where it is easy to park (like an agiturismo). Once you are in Monterosso al Mare, you can drop off the cars in Rapallo. You can see Pisa on the way to Rome, and see Florence as a day trip from Rome.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 09:47 AM
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A car? Just A car? How are you going to fit TWELVE people in ONE car? That only works as a circus trick.

You'll need THREE cars. And you'll need to really settle on lodging plans because with all these folks, you're doing a lot of catherding.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 09:56 AM
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There is no way a car - or even a regular people mover will hold 12 people plus all of their luggage plus the car seats for the smaller kids. You would need to check, but I think any vehicle large enough for everyone plus luggage/seats would need to be a commercial one with a professional driver.

If it were me I would get 3 cars so people can split up at different times and are not joined at the hip every moment. At a minimum you will need 2 very large vehicles. Esp with groups of small kids versus teens there will be lots of disagreements over what to do and when to do it.

Also having everyone joined at the hip every moment can lead to a huge amount of stress/conflict.

So I would start with getting that issue sorted out.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 11:12 AM
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Driving from Malpensa to Madonna di Campiglio is extremely ill advised. Viamichelin estimates 4:22. However what you look for is time "off the motorway," where time estimates go out the window. In this case it is 3 hours!

The logistics of this trip, which are headache-inducing, call for a lot of simplification.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 12:09 PM
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Don't mean to be flippant, but as one who has travelled in Europe with four young kids ------ slit your wrists!
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Dec 30th, 2015, 12:38 PM
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One other thing to bear in mind:

Don't know what part of June you'll be arriving, but most June nights in the Dolomiti are quite cool and chilly, so you need to pack warm clothes But when you get down to le Cinque Terre and Rome, the weather will be quite warm, and possibly even quite hot. So you'll be hauling around clothes you're not even wearing for more than half of the trip.

Again, you may have already bought air tickets and booked non-refundable villas, and if you have, many people here (including myself) will help you make the very best of this trip -- although everyone (I hope) will advise you to put safety first and not drive with children if you are jet lagged into the mountains of Italy.

But if you haven't booked air, or if you haven't booked accommodations (or they are refundable), then to put your families through so much effortful travel and spending buckets of money to essentially go hiking and swimming, with very little access to the unique sights of Italy is -- puzzling!
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Dec 30th, 2015, 01:54 PM
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Just to add No car is big enough....... Maybe the kids can use pedal cars.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 02:05 PM
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The one night in Venice is not a good idea.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 02:07 PM
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Having done trips with largish family groups, I have to say that just getting them all up in the morning and out the door before noon is often an accomplishment.

I would suggest at least two cars (or vans, called "monovolume", pl. "monovolumi", in Italian). Then if one family is of the early rising persuasion they don't have to wait for the slugabeds to get moving. I would stay in two places and do day trips in the immediate vicinity. The Dolomites sounds fine, but I also have doubts about the Cinque Terre. Maybe Lake Garda instead? That would make a day trip to Venice a possibility, if you're on the lower end of the lake. There's also a big amusement park, Gardaland, on the lake.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 02:16 PM
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I agree that your trip is over-complicated and with all those kids in tow, it could be a real nightmare.

you are also crossing the country a lot, which will add to your problems. personally I would drop the CT, and go from Milan [heeding the advice about driving after a transatlantic flight] to one of the lakes - Lake Garda is en route to the dolomites and would be a good place to relax and sightsee using the local boats that criss-cross the lake. Then hire your cars and go up into the Dolomites, follow that with at least a couple of nights in Venice, retuning your cars when you get there] and finally get the train to Rome.

Because of the sheer numbers in your group, it's going to take a lot longer to get going every day. Then the 2 year olds [and maybe even some of the older ones] are probably going to find the changes to their routines difficult, and that may affect sleep patterns and nap times; then there is the issue of new sorts of food, the heat, the older ones being on their phones and iPads constantly, them wanting to go off by themselves, etc. etc.

I'm sure that it's possible to have a good holiday with a group of this size and composition, but were it me, I'd pick a nice villa with a pool somewhere close to a number of interesting towns, hire a cook, and stay there for the whole time.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 02:39 PM
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<<'Im sure that it's possible to have a good holiday with a group of this size and composition, but were it me, I'd pick a nice villa with a pool somewhere close to a number of interesting towns, hire a cook, and stay there for the whole time.>>

I agree with everything annhig has said. The trip as you have outlined it at present sounds like a nightmare, and this is coming from someone who traveled every year from the USA to Europe with infants, toddlers, and young children, though never as many as yours. Even with 2 per parent couple who were familiar with Italy, it was often tiresome and trying. I can't even begin to imagine what you are contemplating.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 03:15 PM
  #16
 
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Your trip sounds unnecessarily complicated!!

Drop Venice (why go there for just one night?)

Drop "day trips" to Pisa and Florence (again, why?)

And as others have pointed out no way 12 people fit in one rental car.

Now you've got arrive Milan, then 5 nights Dolomite, 5 nights Cinque Terra, and finish with 4 nights in Rome. That's PLENTY!
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Dec 30th, 2015, 06:25 PM
  #17
 
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Sorry - but can't imagine what you will do in the CT for 5 days with all of those kids. I woud be much more likely to stay in an agriturismo more centrally located with a great pool for the kids, AC and many activities nearby - that people can get to with the 2 or 3 different cars.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 06:30 PM
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There is some good advice above but also some of it sounds unduly negative to me. In terms of adult/child ratio with regard to looking after the young ones and handling luggage, it's really at least 6 adults:6 children and maybe even more weighted towards adults as the 13 year olds will be perfectly capable as well.

I recommend that everyone barring the 2 year olds carry and be responsible for their own luggage as much as is feasible. Backpacks for all the kids and a backpack and wheelie for the adults but make sure you can pick up the wheelie and easily carry it if necessary. Being relatively hands free will be useful on the trains.

Obviously you can plan to split up and do some things separately. Monterosso to Florence is a very long day trip so you might want to take turns for each couple to go rather than take everyone along. For me, it's too far for a day trip but could be done if you leave early and get back late. Lucca might be a better alternative and cycling around the city walls could be fun. If the teens want to sleep in, they can meet you somewhere mid morning.

Rome can be overwhelming for kids so I could break the day into chunks with regular stops for gelati and a siesta. My kids definitely preferred the rural areas we visited over Rome, especially as they are not very interested in churches, museums or art. You can hire cycle things (can't remember the name - like a trishaw) in the Borghese Gardens, which they might like. We took a soccer ball with us and not only did that amuse the kids, it also sometimes allowed them to strike up a brief friendship with local kids. A pack of cards was also used heaps, on trains and in our hotel/apartment.

I don't know how long your flight is but we flew from Australia (about 30hr journey) and the kids were exhausted on arrival. The initial excitement kept all of us going and we kept them up until about 6pm but then they crashed for HOURS and were ready for bed early every night for about a week. No problems with jetlag - just tired.

It sounds like a very special trip - enjoy!
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Dec 31st, 2015, 12:53 AM
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No one has written about child seats either.
"It is illegal for children under 3 to sit in the front or rear seats without the proper child seat. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 cannot use the front passenger seat unless they are using a suitable safety restraint seat or an adaptor for a seat belt. If no seat is available for children aged between 4 and 12 they can use the adult seat belts in the rear if accompanied, in the rear, by another passenger aged over 16"
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Dec 31st, 2015, 03:48 AM
  #20
 
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I do not understand why people assume that the OP is not perfectly capable of working out how many vehicles, car seats and child restraints are needed. Their plans sound basically fine to me.
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