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Rome/Florence+ Ligurian Coast+ ?? Nice? Barcelona?

Rome/Florence+ Ligurian Coast+ ?? Nice? Barcelona?

Old Nov 5th, 2022, 10:23 AM
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Rome/Florence+ Ligurian Coast+ ?? Nice? Barcelona?

I'm planning a trip for our family of 4 (including two older teens) for around 15 nights end of May/early June. This will be our kids first trip to Europe. We love nature/scenery, hiking, good food (one daughter is vegetarian) and also exploring cities so I'm trying to plan a good mix of big city/small villages. Prefer to stick to train travel and not rent a car. I think we have settled flying into Rome and:
-5/6 nights split between Rome and Florence
-5 night on the Ligurian Coast either staying on one of the Cinque Terre Villages or a town such as Santa Margherita Ligure for day trips along the coast

I'm having a little paralysis in planning the place for the last 5 days. Originally we planned Interlaken area, but decided against it after researching costs. We also have considered Lake Como, Nice and Barcelona and I think we would like to do one of the latter two to give our kids an experience in a second country.

Nice-long but easy train ride from Italian Riviera. Beautiful, easy day trips by train (Menton, Eze etc). Nice mid size city to contrast big Rome and small Italian Riviera villages. Would it be enough contrast from the Italian Riviera?

Barcelona-Fun city for teens, maybe cheaper eats? Have to fly, but overall time/cost maybe about the same as train ride to Nice. Would make a majority of the trip big city but still has beaches

Would stay in an AirbNB and costs appear similar. (Hubby and I have been to both of these cities but over 20 years ago and very short time as we were leading a group of teens on a tour!)
Any thoughts or suggestions to help me choose? Booking our flights with points so I need to make a decision very soon!

Last edited by travelingteacherfam; Nov 5th, 2022 at 10:30 AM.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 11:47 AM
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So you fly into Rome and then out of town you pick to go to last? Probably going to a place that has an airport like Nice or Barcelona would be best for wherever youíre flying back to. Also first day/night in Rome is a wash so you would probably have more like 4/5 days between Rome and Florence. Thatís a busy schedule! 5 nights on Ligurian coast will be nice. Stay in one place and you can ferry up and down coast to see Camolgi (my fave town) Cinque Terre villages etc.

Going to Barcelona seems like a big jump and airport part would take up a lot of your day. I do love Spain and itís a fun vibrant town. Weíve been there in May usually and June will be very busy. I also prefer trains but not a huge fan of the French Riviera. Maybe look into Provence or maybe the tgv to Paris? We took our then teenagers on their first trip to Europe and did London, Paris and Loire Valley. Itís a magical place and maybe doing Rome/Florence, Italian Riviera (Liguria) and then Paris would be fun.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 11:52 AM
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I prefer Nice myself but since you will have been in Liguria, Barcelona would be more of a contrast. Nice is barely in France and used to be part of Italy. Barcelona has so many different things to see and explore for kids.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 12:34 PM
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Yes flying out of our final city. I would prefer to end at the beach (Liguria or Nice-more relaxing) so we can adjust the order accordingly. We can +- a day or two at each location so for now I just need to decide on the areas to visit. We have considered Paris as well but Iíve been several times. Barcelona is a jump but lass than 2 hours flight back vs 2+ to Paris vs 5-6 hours train to Nice. TVG is even longer. Thanks for the input! Lots to consider.
Originally Posted by macdogmom View Post
So Also first day/night in Rome is a wash so you would probably have more like 4/5 days between Rome and Florence.

Going to Barcelona seems like a big jump and airport part would take up a lot of your day. I do love Spain and itís a fun vibrant town. Weíve been there in May usually and June will be very busy. I also prefer trains but not a huge fan of the French Riviera. Maybe look into Provence or maybe the tgv to Paris? We took our then teenagers on their first trip to Europe and did London, Paris and Loire Valley. Itís a magical place and maybe doing Rome/Florence, Italian Riviera (Liguria) and then Paris would be fun.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 12:36 PM
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I agree about the contrast. But the food is also drawing me to France!
Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
I prefer Nice myself but since you will have been in Liguria, Barcelona would be more of a contrast. Nice is barely in France and used to be part of Italy. Barcelona has so many different things to see and explore for kids.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by travelingteacherfam View Post
I agree about the contrast. But the food is also drawing me to France!
I personally think food in Spain is much more delicious and interesting (and more reasonably priced) than French food. Our favorite food in Paris on our trips pre Covid became the different ethnic places we found or French food influenced with other countries flavors.

Remember the flying isnít just the air time itís getting to the airport early and then usually getting into the center of the city takes awhile. I donít know if Iíd consider Barcelona a big beach town but Iím a bad judge of that since I live in a beach town (Santa Barbara) so going to the beach in Europe isnít a big requirement for me. We never went there on our trips to Barcelona. My husband has paddle boarded in basque part of Spain and France and enjoyed that.

Maybe make the trip easier and do Rome then Liguria and end up in Florence? Or add on Venice which is a pretty magical place for kids to seeÖArrival day and departure day become a wash so you actually have 14 days to sightsee.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 01:18 PM
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I did enjoy the food in Spain as well, but the pastries were so much better in France. I need to look into how vegetarian friendly food is in Spain for or vegetarian daughter (she is not a pescatarian so no seafood). Yes, I agree about the beach not being a big draw in Barcelona, but being near it is nice. By ending in a beach town, I meant ending in Liguria (fly home from Genoa) or Nice. So we could do Barcelona-Rome-Liguia or Rome-Liguria-Nice. Agree the airport+ flight will add time but since trains are also 5-6 hours I figured that part is a wash. 15 days is not including travel time...we are both teachers so we can be a little flexible on time(but we are on a budget). 1.5 weeks or so seems to be our kids' limit for travel
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 01:24 PM
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Please consider a destination where you can go by train rather than a highly polluting short flight.
You say you like countryside and hiking so why not choose somewhere more rural where you can hike, bike, relax by a pool? Another part of Italy even.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 01:25 PM
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For your Ligurian village I highly recommend Camogli. We were there in June this year and fell in love with it. There's a train station so easy access to Genova and other Ligurian towns plus you can take the ferry. We took the ferry to Portofino one day, then the bus to Santa Margherita Ligure and the train home. I can't wait to go back there.
And I will say, as much as I love Italy and Italian food, the French do pastries better.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 02:02 PM
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Camolgli looks lovely! Thanks for the recommendation.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 02:51 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip!
We have been to Nice and Barcelona when our kids were teens and they preferred Barcelona. The energy, the food, the quirky architecture, and the beach were really fun for them. They did enjoy Nice, and Eze, we did have a car there which made it fun to wander the area. We stayed in Villefranche.

Either would be memorable, though. At this point, if you are scrambling to use your airline points, I would choose what is less painful for connections to get home. After a long trip, it is always great to have an easy way back.
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by travelingteacherfam View Post
Camolgli looks lovely! Thanks for the recommendation.
itís my favorite town. Weíve stayed at Villa Rosamarino and Cenobio dei Dogi. We also rented a house above Portofino that was great but a bit off the beaten path. Have stayed in Manarola at La Torreta but cinque terre felt too touristy on our second go around and prefer Camolgi. But it will be crowded everywhere in June!

Iím not a sweets person so French pastry is not a draw but I know itís excellent. Also traveling with teenagers is exciting and draining. I do remember that they didnít want to be carted around on too many sightseeing excursions so we would do one main thing interspersed with lots of eating and then maybe something very casual where they could wander around or do nothing. In Rome we went on a really interesting underground tour, I think at the Vatican. Canít remember the name (Scavi tour maybe) but will send a link later. My trip planning usually was to make it simple and not do too much ďto-ing and fro-ingĒ. So maybe Rome, Liguria, Nice would be the ticket.

The first trip with kids (theyíre now thirty somethings and weíve gone back many times) the 17 year old ended up with a burst appendix in Paris and my sick son and husband in an ambulance going to the American hospital and my other son and I headed to the airport. It was traumatic but we had a big taste of European medicine and they did an excellent job. It was a memorable trip!
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 02:59 PM
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Good point!
[Either would be memorable, though. At this point, if you are scrambling to use your airline points, I would choose what is less painful for connections to get home. After a long trip, it is always great to have an easy way back.[/QUOTE]
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 03:02 PM
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Agree with your advice for traveling with teens! They are almost adult and already adult teens. Hubby and I are both art teachers, so we always have to remember that they don't enjoy too many museums (and honestly neither do I), so a few planned sights with lots of time to wander/people watch etc is more our style. Yikes sounds like a memorable first trip to Paris!
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Old Nov 5th, 2022, 03:07 PM
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I would go with Nice because it is so EASY and pleasant for American teens. It is not a French city as much as it is a cosmopolitan city: easy beach, easy sights, good food memorable colors and atmosphere - - a very comfortable tourist haven. The daytrip options are also sweet (beach at Villefranche sur Mer; Antibes is a perfect day out; Monaco actually sucks, but it is something they might like to experience; Vence & St. Paul de Vence is an enchanting little day out - - even heading across the border to Ventimiglia and SanRemo is really enjoyable). All in all, relaxing and with loads of people (well, tourists) from all kinds of places (well, very often from the US) makes it a place they can breathe easy in and finish off a memorable trip at.
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Old Nov 6th, 2022, 05:51 AM
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It does seem like the easiest and
most relaxing choice-I think thatís why I
being drawn back to it. Plus no additional airport time sounds nice.
Originally Posted by dfourh View Post
I would go with Nice because it is so EASY and pleasant for American teens. It is not a French city as much as it is a cosmopolitan city: easy beach, easy sights, good food memorable colors and atmosphere - - a very comfortable tourist haven.
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Old Nov 6th, 2022, 06:19 AM
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So, you originally wanted to go to Switzerland but gave up because of costs. You also considered Lake Como but gave priority to other places because you want to go to other countries apart from Italy. You also said scenery and hiking is major interest of yours, and now youíve decided you want be at the beach at the end of the holiday and you (wisely) want to fly back home from your last stop. So, why not stay on the shores of Lake Como or Lake Maggiore, take a day trip or two by train to the nearby Swiss Alps (without having to pay Swiss accommodation costs), and also enjoy the (lake) beaches? You can also visit Como itself for a midsized picturesque town, or go slightly farther afield to Bergamo, and then fly home from Milan Malpensa (or Bergamo Orio al Serio, or Milan Linate, but if youíre coming from outside Europe Malpensa is realistically the best option). Apart from the scenery you can enjoy by lake ferry or train, thereís also plenty of great hiking in the area, from the wild Val Granda to the popular trails above Como.

Nice is nice (pun intended), but I think it would very much feel not that different from Liguria, and if the major reason to go there instead of to the Italian Lakes is to show your kids another country, Iíd reconsider.

Starting in Barcelona and going to Rome by plane and Florence and Liguria by train (and presumably Malpensa also by train, unless you can get a useful flight from Genoa) is also a nice plan, but itís quite a different kind of holiday (mostly cities, hiking and nature only in Liguria). The flight wouldnít be particularly annoying, but I know Iíd much rather spend a few hours on a train, going from town centre to town centre while looking at the scenery or reading/watching something, than go to the nearest airport, go through the airport and wait, fly, then go through another airport and through another transfer to the destination town.

Finally, if beaches and scenery a priority, I would also consider Sardinia, or maybe southern Italy or Sicily. You could fly or take the overnight ferry from Liguria to Sardinia, and itís definitely feel more different than going to Nice.
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Old Nov 6th, 2022, 08:36 AM
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Thank you for this thoughtful reply. We did consider Lake Como-it looks beautiful! I didn't explore that option too much for a couple of reasons: It looks like a little bit of a pain to get to by train, then back to Milan to fly home. Also, I could be totally wrong about the vibe, but for some reason I wasn't sure if my teens would find it a bit stuffy? And similar in a way to Liguria in that it would be exploring small towns by ferry? I thought they might enjoy more lively Nice more. But I hadn't really considered the hiking aspect and being able to easily visit Switzerland, so I'll look into that.

Funny you mention Sardinia. Our very orginal plan was Rome-Amalfy or Liguria then ending in Sardinia to explore the Golfo Orosei and La Maddelena islands. The scenery looks stunning. My biggest concern is the water temps in late May/early June look quite chilly! The biggest draw for me to Sardinia is the beaches, , boat tours etc and I'm not sure we would fully enjoy if the water is too cold? (Our last few beach vacations have been Hawaii where water temps are around 80F). So we started looking into coastal areas where we could enjoy the beach but also larger villages with other things to do without the beach being the main focus. I think I did ask on here about swimming that early in the season but didn't get much response, and I'm sure it comes down to personal tolerance.

Agree I prefer train to an airport any day!

You've given me some things to think about so thank you!
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Old Nov 6th, 2022, 09:08 AM
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My parents (who were also both teachers) took a 6 month sabbatical and we toured all through Europe in a VW van a long time ago. I was so excited as we headed to the French Riviera and then we saw the rocky beaches, so unlike our sandy California beaches, and tbh we were all disappointed. I’ve been there again a few times but just doesn’t excite me. And as people have said it will be very similar to Ligurian coast and the hills around that region. Maybe Barcelona, Rome and Liguria is the ticket. I also hate planes but I do love Spain. Or I do think teenagers would love Venice.
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Old Nov 6th, 2022, 09:31 AM
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Girona, Narbonne, Carcassonne would be far nicer than those big cities
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