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Rome and ? February family trip and I'm the designated planner!

Rome and ? February family trip and I'm the designated planner!

Jul 16th, 2007, 08:47 AM
  #1  
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Rome and ? February family trip and I'm the designated planner!

OK, so we found some great tickets to Rome from JFK in February. This trip will consist of me and my husband (late 20s), my parents (50s) and my little brother (18). He's actually the reason for the trip--he's been talking about going to Italy for years and this is sort of a graduation trip/birthday trip...during his winter break from school.

So we have our tickets in and out of Rome February 22-March 3. We're thinking five days in Rome and the rest of the time somewhere else. The thought was that we'd rent a car from the airport spend 4 or so days somewhere south, then return to Rome for the rest of the trip. So any ideas on where to go? My family is from Puglia so we thought about going there, but worried it would be too far. What about a costal town? I should add that my brother is crazy about ancient history and that's the reason for the trip...(oh and my parents want to take him to Florence on a day trip. I think that's crazy and was thinking that my husband and I would just stay in Rome...what's your thought?)

My husband and my brother have never been to Italy. My parents and myself haven't been in 20 years...

Any tips?
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2007, 08:58 AM
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You can drive to Puglia from Rome but I don't know if you'd want to do that right after coming off an international flight. It's too cold to swim at that time of year, so a coastal destination might not be best. But there is a lot to see in Puglia--the baroque city of Lecce, the trulli of Alberobello, the medieval quarter of Bari, the white city of Ostuni, the Norman castle at Andria, and for your brother, the battlefield at Canae. But if some of your party want to see Florence, why not just spend the other days in Tuscany?
Grinisa is offline  
Jul 16th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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I think my fear was that Tuscany would be too cold...but maybe not. If we did Pulgia, I don't think we'd try to drive it all in one day--I'm not even sure how far it is.

Outside of Rome, where do you think the best site is for ancient history? I'd like to base ourselves somewhere where we can make daytrips...
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Tuscany is OK to visit in Feb/March because you are spending a lot of time in museums and churches and they won't be crowded.
Depends where in Puglia you want to base. The northern part can be reached in about three hours driving from FCO.
As for ancient history, certainly visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum would be high on the list. Paestum is relatively close to those sights as well. Naples has a wonderful archeological museum with artifacts from Pompeii etc. Further afield, there is Sicily with many ancient ruins.
Grinisa is offline  
Jul 16th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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I suggest that you stay loose with regard to the car. When you're there and the weather cooperates, you can check out and hire a car for a few days and head off.

For ancient history, where better than Rome? Ostia Antica is nearby too.

Florence indeed is doable for a day-trip BTW.
TuckH is offline  
Jul 16th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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Crazy about ancient history? Have to go to Pompeii. That can be done as a long day trip from Rome or a shorter excursion from Naples. I haven't been to the Amalfi coast, which many people use as a base to see Pompeii, but I believe much is closed up there in winter.

I don't think a day trip to Florence is crazy for those who want to go. I took a day trip to Florence, although not from Rome, many years ago, and I really enjoyed it.
Nikki is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 09:40 AM
  #7  
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So thanks for the reassurance on doing a daytrip to Florence. I don't like to cram too much into a single trip...

so is the general consensus that Puglia is not worth it for three days? I guess the thought was that my grandfather is from there and while we'll all probably go again to Italy, it's doubtful that we'll all go together. Also, I think my father has some dreamy ideas of being in a seaside town and taking walks on a deserted beach and getting great seafood...(not sunbathing!)but I can probably talk him out of that...so once again, what would you do...and would you go to Rome first, then somewhere else...or Rome on the tail-end of the trip....Thanks again!
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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If you're able to get to Puglia on the first day (not sure how easy or possible that is), that would make your trip more efficient. Otherwise, you have to go to Rome, stay there, go to Puglia, and return to Rome for the last night (or near the Rome airport).
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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Thanks! It is technically possible to make it to Puglia that first night...we're arriving in Rome at about 10am...and I'm sure there'll be some adrenaline to keep us going for a bit! I read one post where the poster said that it was 3 1/2 hours to (northern) Puglia...so maybe we could find someplace to stay that first night that's not too far away...
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:08 PM
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We took a trip to rome this year at almost exactly the same dates you are planning and had great weather--only a few brief showers and several gorgeous sunny days in the 70's. I only hope you are as lucky

My husband and I took our 16 year old son to Rome because he had been saying for years he wanted to see it--sounds like your brother with a strong interest in Roman history. We were there 7 1/2 days all in Rome except for a half day trip to Ostia Antica.
Our son wanted to go to Pompeii but I thought it was too long for a day trip. If you are doing Rome plus somewhere else I would go to the Naples/Pompeii/Herculaneum area --maybe as far as Paestum if your brother wants to see Greek temples.
Puglia does seem far but maybe you could find overnight trains.

One day trip I had thought about taking from Rome was to Tarquinia to see the Etruscan necropolis there--but we could just not tear ourselves away from Rome

In Rome look into the hop on/hop off archeo bus tour. It goes out of the central city to the catacombs, the Appian Way and major aqueducts on Viale appio Claudio and is a convenient way to see these sites.

Quite a few people do Florence as a day trip from Rome. The train connections are good.

The only thing I would add is that my son who wanted to see ancient Rome also found he was charmed by other parts of the city--especially the Piazza Navona/Piazza della Rotunda/Campo de Fiori area and the ghetto where we stayed.

Hope you have a great time.



Vttraveler is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:41 PM
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Vttraveler--Thanks for your response! Sounds like our situation is almost exactly the same! Did you post a trip report? I searched under your name, but you're such a frequent poster that I couldn't locate it. Yes, my brother has been saying for years that he wants to go to Rome and my parents finally decided that this might be the last trip they get to take with him. Luckily, he said that he thought it'd be fun, if me and my husband came (there's a 12 yr age difference between us!)I'd love to hear what your son enjoyed.

I sort of figured out an itinerary that looks like this. I haven't figured out what to do on the days we're in Italy, just trying to figure out exactly where we'll be first! Any comments are appreciated.
Day 1—Saturday, February 23, 9:30 am
Arrive in Rome

Day 2—Sunday, Feb. 24
Rome

Day 3—Monday, Feb. 25
Daytrip to Florence

Day 4—Tuesday, Feb. 26
Ancient Rome

Day 5—Wednesday, Feb. 27
Rome

Day 6—Thursday, Feb 28
Drive to Sant’Agata Di Puglia
Time: 03h37 including 02h07 on motorways
Distance: 303km including 222km on motorways

Day 7—Friday, Feb. 29
Puglia

Day 8—Saturday, Mar. 1
Puglia

Day 9—Sunday, Mar.2
Drive back to Rome
Last night in Rome

Day 10—Monday, March 3, 2008 10:20
Leave Italy
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:44 PM
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My suggestion would be to think about Sorrento - easily accessible by train, and you won't need a car while you're there. One of my favorite trips! Pompeii and Herculaneum are easy day trips from Sorrento by train, and buses make day trips to Positano, Amalfi, etc. very easy. If you like, you can break the trip from Rome to Sorrento or vice-versa by staying in Naples for a day.
gshlaw is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:02 PM
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I believe the Accademia and Uffizi are both closed Mondays, so that might not be the best day for your day trip to Florence.
Nikki is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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Thanks Nikki, I'll move Florence to a different day.

Sorrento does sound lovely and I'll look into it. I forgot to add that we'll probably stop at Pompeii on the way down to Puglia--and that the reason for Puglia is that's where my grandfather was born (which is why we're going to a random town!), and none of us have been there. Once I figured out the distance and realized how close it was, it just seems like we should make the drive...we're thinking of going down there without reservations (obviously, we'll have reservations in Rome) so that we're free to explore.
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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IMO, the day trip to Florence is totally unreasonable (I know many people are doing it - but isn't that one reason more NOT to do it?). Non-Europeans tend to underestimate cultural differences within Europe - Florence is a completely different world than Rome, and while you would desperately need that day for Rome, you'd waste it on Florence, of which you wouldn't get any reasonable impression since one day is way too short to soak up that new and, I repeat, totally different atmosphere. A day trip from Rome to Florence is like a day trip to Guatemala City while on a New York holiday. And consider that in February, while it's nice to see everything without meeting another tourist, daylight is fading early, and visiting time is extremely short. Rome has so much to offer, you'll need every second.
As far as Puglia, don't expect to find those dreamy beaches and great seafood... Puglia is definitely not a great region, gastronomically, and the coast is in many parts of the utmost ugliness. Puglia near the sea is heavily overpopulated, urbanized everywhere, and one of Italy's poorest regions... go figure what atmosphere to expect. A good reason to visit Puglia, though, are the sights that Grinisa already mentioned; let me add to the list: Castel del Monte (a great and unusual hexagonal medieval castle of the German emperor Friedrich II), and the Romanesque cathedrals of Trani and Bitonto. In Puglia, don't leave anything in your car (they forced mine in Bitonto to snaffle a 10-$ umbrella), and watch your purse.
franco is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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<<A day trip from Rome to Florence is like a day trip to Guatemala City while on a New York holiday.>>

Sorry, franco, but from a US resident's point of view, this statement is a gross exaggeration. Florence and Rome are neither as different nor as distant from one another as Guatemala City and NYC.

Certainly Florence should be visited for longer than a day, but since this is the parents' dream, it is certainly a reasonable day trip, especially when using the ES trains, which make the trip in about 95 minutes.
ellenem is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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Analogies aside, I agree with Franco. Yes, you can train to Florence, "do" the Uffizi, Accademia, the Duomo, perhaps a market, eat at some point (or two) and train back to Rome, all in one day.

But Florence itself is an open-air Renaissance museum, and the treasures beyond Uffizi/Accademia/Duomo are countless. With February's greatly reduced daylight hours and possibly inclement weather (count on cold and damp on a good day), a day trip from Rome could feel like a forced march. Obviously, to each his own, but I personally don't think this is the way to see one of the world's great cities.
Jean is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 09:59 AM
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Actually, if Guatemala were only an hour and a half by train from New York, I'd take a day trip there in a New York minute.
Nikki is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 10:07 AM
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One morning as we were relaxing in the Campo Zanipolo in Venice, we happened to see some friends from back home.

As amazing as that was, I was then astounded to learn that they were there on a daytrip from Rome!
TuckH is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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If I were going from Rome to Florence on a daytrip, I wouldn't bother with the Uffizi unless I was with huge art fans. I would visit the Accademia since it's quicker, visit the Duomo and Baptistery, Ponte Vecchio, and wander.
ellenem is offline  

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