Rome and Umbria Trip Report

Jun 19th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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Rome and Umbria Trip Report

Just back from ten fabulous days in Italy with my two babies (1 1/2 and 3 1/2), my husband, and my mother-in-law.

We flew into Rome, stayed two nights at the Hotel San Carlo, located on a quaint, cobblestone street two blocks from the Via Condotti (great for high-end shopping) and then we drove to Umbria.

In Umbria we stayed at the lovely La Ghirlanda. If one wants the experience of feeling like you are staying in the middle of the countryside (while at the same time being 20-40 minutes away from most places you'd want to visit), this is the place for you!

It's a beautiful house surrounded by grape and olive vineyards and has a pool with a majestic view of hills, valleys, and more farmland. In fact, my favorite day of the trip was when we decided not to go anywhere and just stay poolside. And the babies BOTH SLEPT! It was incredible to just lay there looking at the views and listening to the sounds of birds chirping and bugs buzzing around me.

Our accomodations were very comfortable--not fancy--but very comfortable. Our host, Riccardo was very hospitable and helpful. Our girls loved the house, especially the pets, a sweet, old dog and a sweet, old wolf. Yes, wolf! Riccardo explained that the wolf was taken in as a pup and completely domesticated. My 1 1/2 year old loved the wolf and for the most part he seemed to reciprocate--appropriately! Of course we never left them alone with the pets but they really were a highlight for the kids!

Thanks to the fodorites who suggested restaurants. We ate in all the recommended places: L'Alchimista (where we ate once) in Montefalco; Coccorone (where we ate twice)in Montefalco; Inoteca Piazza Onofri in Bevagna (once), and Ristorante Umbria in Todi (once)--which, by the way, has the most increadible view we've ever had the pleasure of enjoying while eating in a restaurant.

Alas, one of the highly recommended restaurants, Ristaurante Ringhiera Umbra in Montefalco was closed for renovation. (We assume it was being renovated--either that or demolished!)

On the day that we drove to Urbino (but got lost and wound up going to Urbino via the highway along the Adriatic sea) we got back so late we ate at the closest place to La Ghirlanda. Sometimes you get lucky -- we had a lovely meal in an unfortunately named town called Bastardo at a restaurant called O' Sole Mio. The hostess was so sweet and everything was delicious and fresh!

We really enjoyed our trip to Assisi. The town was beautiful and the St. Francis Basilica was increadible to behold, both inside and out!

We never made it to Spello, Spoleto, Orvieto, Perugia, and many other places that I'm sure are also wonderful. Still, we enjoyed where we did visit and found the driving fun and the views breathtaking! And I'm glad to be able to write to everyone and let them know what a wonderful place La Ghirlanda is. It was a TERRIFIC vacation. We can't wait until next year!
JacquieK is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 11:19 PM
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Finally, someone who has been to La Ghirlanda. I have been curious about it from the website, but you are the first to report on it. Did you have dinner there? Also how is the view from the rooms? Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the report.
packed is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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I know! I considered not staying there because I couldn't find anyone else who stayed there! It is listed in Karen Brown which gave me some assurance. All of the other guests while we were there were European.
As for the views from the rooms...Nice but not really a highlight. They aren't the kind of rooms (at least not the suite we were in and the room my mother-in-law was in) where you sit and look out at the view. The view is best from the pool. That being said, if I stood up next to my window in my room I could enjoy the view.
JacquieK is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 11:18 AM
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I'm sorry, I forgot to respond to your other question. No, we didn't have dinner there. They didn't start serving dinner until 8:30 so we usually preferred to drive to a nearby town and try to have dinner at 7:30 or 8. I do think dinner would have been nice, though. It smelled good!
JacquieK is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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JacquieK, your time in Italy with your little ones and your husband and his mother sounds perfect! Relaxing with some beautiful side trips and wonderful restaurants. The kind of vacation I love. Thanks for sharing..I will pass this on to family members as they know doubt will be interested in the LaGhirlanda.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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What a lovely trip, and a lovely report too. Thank you.
Italy is counry that some how goes well with children.
Best of luck.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 03:59 PM
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Oh, Rome & Umbria...I am jealous. Glad you had such a great time; I love the day you describe by the pool with the sleeping little ones. Nice!
annabelle2 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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I am traveling in September to Rome with a little one (will be 9 mos. at the time) so I am curious about how the 1.5yr old did. Any general tips for me? How did you find being in Rome with the kids? any specific gear suggestions (e.g., did you bring a stroller, what type?)? how did the kids do in restaurants? what did the little one eat? were the italians nice/helpful with kids? I am sure I'll have a lot more questions but don't want to overwhelm you.
Sally30 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 07:56 PM
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Ristorante Umbria in Todi.... Ahhhh. Fried artichokes. A little pasta. Some local wine. And that view. Thanks for the great memory.
Jean is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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Sally30, I'm sorry I took so long to respond but believe it or not, a week after our return from Italy we had to go to Caracas for a wedding! Finally back and very happy to discuss travel with the little ones...
I think the 1.5 year old did great. Of course, the flights were tough...tough meaning she didn't sleep the majority of the flights and was pretty fidgety the times when she wasn't sleeping. All of our hotels provided pack-n-plays which she pretty happily slept in at night. ( I think she was so tired that she went right down every night.) The stroller we took was the Maclaren Quest which worked out perfectly. It has a nice sun shield, it reclines 3/4, and is light. We also took a cheap, folding umbrella stroller for our 3 year old which was great when no one needed to nap but neither of our kids could nap in it when they were tired. I wished I had two Quests, however at the time I didn't think it was worth it to shell out another $150 or so for another stroller! (I think we have 5 in our two-bedroom apartment!)
Most restaurants provide high chairs and when they didn't, they didn't seem to mind us bringing in a stroller for the 1.5 year old to sit in. One caveat...none of the restaurant high chairs had safety belts. We usually just always had one hand on my little one as she's very active and tries to escape! I never purchased one of those chairs that attaches to a table as I never wanted to either buy it or take up any extra space with it. I've read some people who find them really helpful, however.
Of course, traveling with little kids is different than just traveling with just my husband. (No kidding!) Your expectations have to be different. We did go to museums, but not many and I generally flew through them with the kids and then took the kids out to play while my husband continued looking at the art. Meals can't be eaten as slowly as leisurely as we'd like, but that's ok. I just love having the kids around and I think they handled it great and had a great time!
JacquieK is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 06:19 AM
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A couple more thoughts regarding gear...
I do travel with all the diapers and wipes that I need, always fearing that I won't be able to find what I need when I need it...
When my little ones were littler (like yours) I also traveled with the jars of the baby food that they ate, also being nervous about relying on what I'd be able to find. I did this in Paris and I did this in Italy and for the most part, I don't regret it. Now, I have a friend who says she wouldn't travel with diapers or food and never had a problem finding any. Of course, to this friend, driving 45 minutes to find diapers isn't a big deal. I guess it depends on you and your comfort level!
I also brought toys and my kids' favorite comfort items (blankies, stuffed animal)--not a ton, but enough to keep them occupied.
I think everyone has their own style, however and I also think that you totally make do with what ever you have.
I was never really comfortable "wearing" my kids so I always traveled with strollers but I've seen plenty of women and men with their kids either in back packs or some sort of sling. Like I said, it really depends on you. It's really not that different than being with your kids at home, only you don't have all your stuff. My oldest was pretty inactive at 9 months so she was easy to travel with. We'd just put her in the stroller and go everywhere we wanted with her.
JacquieK is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 05:30 AM
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Thanks for the response JacquieK. I love hearing that you are traveling all over the place with your two kids! Hopefully we'll be like that too. Thanks for the suggestions. Think we'll bring the Maclaren and I don't like the backpack idea either so hopefully we'll be able to dodge all the Vespas on the Rome streets. How did the kids deal with jetlag? was it even an issue? our baby is pretty easy going and flexible and we aren't wedded to a schedule of any sort so I figure she'll be tired for a couple of days but it ultimately should be fine. Do you remember any specific stores in Rome that had baby gear? I am hoping to avoid traveling with too much stuff. Thanks again!
Sally30 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Hi Sally 30!
Dodging vespas in Rome will not be a problem at all--at least not unless you'll be driving! I found Rome one of the hardest cities to drive in but as far as walking, it was a lot of fun and absolutely beautiful, with and without strollers!
As for shops with baby gear, I can't help you there. As I mentioned, I really packed all my baby necessities (diapers, wipes, pullups, sunscreen) with me. I'm sure you'll be able to find out from someone else--I just don't know.
As for jetlag, it wasn't an issue going there--if anything, it worked to my benefit. My kids usually wake up between 5:30 and 7:00 AM and for some reason in Italy slept until at least 8 AM every day! Going home (to NYC) we had jet lag, meaning we woke up at 4:30 or so every day for several days. I think we were back on schedule after 5 days.
JacquieK is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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boom_boom is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 09:45 PM
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Hi Jacquie,

I enjoyed reading about your trip. It's so nice that you love traveling with your babies...

About La Ghirlanda, I was wondering if you got the family suite and how you liked it.

dina4 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:20 PM
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IndyTraveler is offline  

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