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Thoughts on Rome & Bologna/June 2022 with teenagers

Thoughts on Rome & Bologna/June 2022 with teenagers

Old Sep 15th, 2021, 10:51 AM
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Thoughts on Rome & Bologna/June 2022 with teenagers

Hi all! First, I want to thank everyone who has posted about their visits to Italy. They have been invaluable in helping me think about my own trip.

I知 writing today in hopes of getting some feedback and suggestions for a trip I知 planning for June 2022.

Let me start with the basic specs:
  • Family of three: Me (mom), 15 year old boy and 14 year old boy
  • Italy travel experience: I致e been to Italy (Rome and Tuscanny), but 20+ years ago. Boys have been to London, but no other part of Europe.
  • Interests: History, particularly military; Food; Understanding how people live (for example, trips to farmers markets, grocery stores); shopping. (My kids love a souvenir!) I love gardens, but this is not a shared interest.
  • My boys are not interested in soccer and their appetite for art is limited.
  • I知 trying to strike a balance between time in cities and big crowds with quieter time.
  • We are a crew that needs some sort of activity for nearly every day, otherwise the teenagers will veer toward playing video games. I also want to pre-buy tickets whenever possible.
You are probably wondering WHY Bologna,/Emilia-Romagna region, which doesn稚 often rise to 杜ust see. Well, Son 1 wants to see Italian cars; Son 2 wants to see how parmesan cheese is made.

Here is the tentative plan:

June 11-26, 2020

Start in Rome, likely staying in an Airbnb because there will be a need to do laundry!

June 12: no plans; unpack, rest, get to know neighborhood, buy breakfast foods (it is Sunday so not sure there will be much open; worth trying to arrive on Saturday?)

June 13: driving tour of the city/major highlights (thinking about the Miles and Miles tour, though it is a bit of a splurge)

June 14: Visit Colosseum and Forum; best with a tour or do on our own?

June 15: Visit Vatican; would definitely do a tour

June 16: Villa d'Este

June 17: Train to Bologna; hotel overnight near train station/wander town

June 18: rent car/agriturismo in Emiliga Romanga area

June 19: agriturismo

June 20: Bologna/air BNB

June 21: E-R food tour

June 22: Day trip to Ravenna or Parma

June 23: Visit Maserati factory

June 24: Train back to Rome/stay in hotel

June 25: Rome day revisit what we loved or something new

June 26: Leave

Thank you!
walkertobi is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2021, 03:35 PM
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Have your Italian car-nut son compare the Pagani factory tour with the Maserati factory tour. Unless he has a particular affinity for Maserati and automated manufacturing, he may be more interested in seeing a hyper-car being built by hand at Pagani. Maserati produces 15,000-20,000 cars a year. Pagani's annual production is well under 100 cars.

While you're in Modena, try to visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum. It's within walking distance of the train station. The exhibited cars reflect the design evolution of (mostly) Ferraris but celebrates Italian racing car history. The building is striking, especially in contrast to Enzo Ferrari's birthplace/house and original factory across a small courtyard from the museum.

I wouldn't split the nights in Bologna but try to put them all together. I'd train to Bologna, pick up the car and head to the agriturismo. Drive back to Bologna, drop the car and stay in Bologna.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 03:42 PM
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First advice, try to get multi-city flights (into one airport, out of another, not two one way). If you must do Rome round trip, go straight on to your farthest destination for your first stay and put all the time in Rome together at the end, saving one hotel check in and out.
In Rome, unless one of you are handicapped in some way, do a walking tour, not a car tour. Personally, I think it is even better to find a good guide book for walks and do it on your own. Central Rome is easily walkable and you can stop as you want to look at things or get a snack. Let the kids read about and plan this day.

With two weeks, I would consider cutting Rome to about four or five nights (three or four full days) and instead include (one) of these options:
Pompeii and Naples or the AC area. The boys will get history and lots of activity.
Small Tuscan towns like Lucca where you can bike or hike.
Ostia Antica, Orvieto or afternoon beach near Rome.
A couple of days on one of the lakes. (Fly into or out of Milan) or Venice for Lake Garda.
Someone in Venice used to offer lessons on rowing gondolas if that would be of interest.

I am sure other people can offer even better suggestions.
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Old Sep 15th, 2021, 06:48 PM
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You won't have any trouble finding an open supermarket on a Sunday. Just open google maps. Find your lodging and click nearby to search for supermarket. Google will put up the opening hours.

Driving tour of Rome? Many of the best bits are pedestrian only. Plus if you're walking you can just let your eye lead you.

I assume the kids would like the changing of the guard at the Altare della Patria. Even if they don't they might want to climb the building to the viewing platform. There is also a museum inside the building they might like. Next door at the Capitoline is a roof top bar with similar views but admission is free.

At mid day there is the ceremonial firing of the cannon at gianicolo. A bit of a hike and it's only at noon but once again the views are nice.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 06:40 AM
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Good point about Bologna nights!
And thanks for the Pagani recommendation. That looks very interesting!
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 06:42 AM
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Thanks all! Good point about the Bologna nights and thanks for the Pagani and Altare della Partria recommendations. Hadn't seen either of those!

I was thinking Lake Garda as an alternative to the Agriturismo. Will reconsider.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 06:55 AM
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As others say, using a car to get around a small ancient city is barking, but do recognise that the streets are mainly cobbled or at least tarmac where not cobbled, so comfortable shoes are a must especially if you come from a culture where walking is not the norm. There is good public transport in town, the buses, the subway and the normal trains are useful and assuming you stay a little out of the centre it is useful to find rooms near a stop.

Plan out the route before hand, it is too easy to go "hey mum this looks interesting" and get lost. Tourist Info does a range of guide yourself tours and they are great help.

Don't stay anywhere twice.

Bologna is a good choice but don't ignore a whole bunch of the cities near and to the north of Bologna along the train lines. Some of them have not changed their limits for hundreds of years. Like Ferrara but lots of others.

Last edited by bilboburgler; Sep 16th, 2021 at 07:13 AM.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 07:17 AM
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I agree with bilboburgler. Don't start expanding upon what is already a fairly busy itinerary. At this point, you have two nights at the agriturismo. That's only one full day not impacted by time limits (check out/in times at lodging, open/closed hours at the car rental, etc.). Substituting Lake Garda would add more car time and reduce sightseeing time, and one day to explore the lake (largest in Italy) would be essentially a drive-by. If this is potentially the first of future trips to Italy, Lake Garda pairs well with Venice and/or the Dolomites.

I also agree with avoiding staying anywhere twice, but sometimes it works. In your itinerary, Bologna twice is unnecessary, but staying in (or very near) Rome before departure is preferable. One night or two is the better question.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 07:36 AM
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You asked tour or do it on your own for the Coloseum and Forum; I suggest doing a tour. We did a tour with Context with our then 14 year old son and it was brilliant, really brought everything to life, the docent was doing her PHD and so knowledgeable, she described in great detail what the buildings would have looked like, what life was like etc etc. Our hormonal 14 year old was totally engaged and so were we.
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Old Sep 16th, 2021, 03:45 PM
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June 12, I would try to do some walking/sightseeing unless you are too jet-lagged to cope. When do you arrive and how long will your flight be?

I recommend getting up early to do the Forum and Coliseum before it gets too hot. The weather may still be pleasant mid-June but two hot and cranky teens are not ideal travel companions.
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 02:26 PM
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Lots of good ideas here, but I would think twice about staying in an agriturismo with 2 teenage lads. Great if there are other kids of the same age there, but they could get bored awfully quickly especially after Rome. I would suggest just staying in Bologna which will free up time for visiting other places like Modena to visit the Ferrari factory which I saw a couple of years ago. I'm no "petrol head" but it was hard not to enjoy it. And the duomo is equally enthralling in a different way.
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 02:36 PM
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Agriturismo may = pool.
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 02:44 PM
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It's such a wonderful thing - holidays like this with your sons. I did similar holidays with my kids and they were fantastic.

My suggestion is to simply divide your time between Bologna and Rome. I suggest you travel to Bologna on arrival in Italy and return to Rome for the second part of your holiday. Of course this isn't essential and you could do Rome - Bologna - Rome if you preferred. Definitely stay awake until a reasonably normal local bed time to set your body clock and avoid jetlag. If you want some rural time, simply jump on a train or bus and head out of whichever city you're in. Both cities offer heaps to do within them as well as endless day trip possibilities. I think this would be logistically simpler and more enjoyable. With longer in each place - and greater familiarity - the boys could head out for a couple of hours on their own if they wish (while you check out a garden?). If you would like to actually stay somewhere more rural, I'd choose a village rather than right out in the countryside.

A driving tour of Rome is both a bad idea and not necessary. You'll see and experience far more just walking, and maybe taking the occasional bus or metro if needed. Guided walking tours are also great and, with luck, you'll get an entertaining guide. I did one organised by the tourism office in Bologna and really enjoyed it. I booked the day before but you could organise when you arrive.
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Old Sep 17th, 2021, 03:56 PM
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On reflection, some time in a small town/village would be great, especially if the weather is warm. You could alternatively travel to Bologna on arrival in Italy, then travel to somewhere like Arezzo or Siena and hire a car for a few days, then train to Rome to enjoy your time there. Better would be to fly in/out Bologna/Rome on a multi-city ticket, if that's available.
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Old Sep 19th, 2021, 08:41 AM
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Do a bike tour of Rome... the best time is early morning when not many people are roaming the streets yet. It's fun and you can go quite far. Definitely worth it!

Also, stay in Trastevere, where it's easier to let the teenies wander without much adult supervision.
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Old Sep 19th, 2021, 01:04 PM
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Lucca is a great small town and the teens could certainly explore there on their own. They could walk (or bike, I think) the walls. Easy train from there to other towns.
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Old Sep 19th, 2021, 02:06 PM
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Definitely watch Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy chapters on the places you're going, most especially the chapter on Rome with your emerging foodie kid. It's available on HBO and elsewhere.

I would stay in one of the older areas, like Campo de' Fiori, or near Piazza Navona. And definitely I'd get SIM cards for their phones and let the teens wander on their own. Letting our teens go out together without us are some of their favorite memories.

How to see Rome, for at least part of it, I'd suggest a private guided walking tour and with a guide you talk to ahead of time and seems conversant with the interest areas your kids are interested in. We did a private tour with Daniella Hunt at Mirabilis Urbis tours (https://rome-tours.com/) , but this has been many years. I'd look for someone well reviewed recently.

Context, which Raincitygirl mentioned, is a well known company and may have a tour itinerary that appeals to your family.

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Old Sep 20th, 2021, 09:19 AM
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Appion Way and Catacomds

A good suggestion for Teenagers for a break in the heavy hitters- Appion Way and Catacombs.
We did 1/2 day tour with Presto Tours, sm group.
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