To Go To Rome... or Not in Summer '25?

Old May 28th, 2024, 05:23 AM
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To Go To Rome... or Not in Summer '25?

Hi all,

I need some fresh ideas for our summer '25 trip. My now 16 year-old son and I will be outside of Berlin in July for a sporting event that ends on July 20th. We will have from July 21st to August 4th (departure date) to travel with my husband and other son. I have promised my older son that we would visit the motor valley in Italy, so we will base ourselves in Modena at some point in the trip What I am struggling with is what itinerary to follow prior to that. The dates are not flexible. We are restricted to those dates due to the sporting event and the start of high school. Additional info: my now 16 year old and I are good travellers, will spend long days on our feet, and tolerate heat and chaos well. My now 14 year old son and husband prefer a bit slower, cooler, and less busy experience. Normally, we vacation together as a family in quieter places and I travel separately with my boys.

What is confirmed is the following. We will fly from Berlin to another major city to meet my husband and other son on July 21st. From there we have 13 travel days to see something. I plan at least 2 full days in Modena to visit the car companies, etc. My older son has asked that we at least visit the Accademia Gallery in Florence, so that is a solid maybe.

My first thought was fly to Rome, spend time there, train to Florence and spend time there, train to Bologna and/or Modena and/or Milan and rent a car for the remainder of our trip in the Motor Valley. But, I am very put off by the idea of Rome at the end of July. Motor Valley is a non-negotiable. My husband thinks that if we are in Italy, we might as well do Rome, but I see just a miserable crowded and hot experience ahead of us at that time of year. We could also swap Modena at the beginning of the trip.

To avoid Rome in July, I thought we could fly in to Zurich and meet the rest of the family there and make our way south to Modena, but I am overwhelmed by options and have never visited Switzerland. The thought of hiking and being in nature appeals to 2 of us, but not the other half, so we need a good base to offer a little bit of everything. Again, we could fly into Milan first and end in Zurich.

Last thought was basing ourselves in Vienna, as we have good friends just outside who own a big farm. But the driving distances and/or train times to Modena seemed a bit much for a 13 day trip

We are able to take the train or rental car. This will be my 14th or 15th trip to Europe, so I am aware of pros and cons of rental cars and trains, traffic, delays, etc. I just need fresh set of suggestions for itinerary please.

Thank you in advance!
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Old May 28th, 2024, 05:48 AM
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Can you give us some background of your interests? You say you have been to Europe 14 or 15 times - is there any place in those trips you have not been that you would like to go to that are close enough to either Berlin or Motor Valley you have not yet been to?

On previous trips, what were your dislikes? What did you love?

There is no "rule" that you have to return to Rome unless you really want to. You could, potentially, even work your way from Berlin doing a road/train trip if that makes sense. Edit: obviously limiting driving within a country to avoid any cross-border fees.

Have you been to other areas of Emilia-Romagna before? What about other areas of Germany?

Vienna does have a lot of options for sightseeing and you can have several nights there to see all that it offers. There are other options fairly close by, too (Budapest, Bratislava - can be day trip from Vienna, Prague, Innsbruck) and you may not even need to fly from Berlin. Not knowing more about you, makes it difficult to offer suggestions.

Peruse some online maps, maybe get some guidebooks of these areas to see what makes sense to you. Tbh, Google maps is my first source - click on city/attractions and the posted photos (by users) have been how many of my trips begin...or get me in trouble!

Last edited by Travel_Nerd; May 28th, 2024 at 06:14 AM.
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Old May 28th, 2024, 06:42 AM
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Updated to add that I have scoured Google maps and am just looking for some personal experiences and suggestions and what itineraries you might choose within the parameters. We have traveled throughout Germany and Austria. I have seen most of Europe and the travelling individuals have done many of the cities before. We are happy to see new destinations or those we have seen before. Our interests are varied and we will often split for the day to see different things.
I am the one planning and I was just hoping for some ideas to help me decide.
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Old May 28th, 2024, 06:52 AM
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May I suggest perusing trip reports and maybe other planning threads? I would be more than happy to provide suggestions... but still do not know what exactly any of you are into, other than cars. If you've done Germany before, certainly Munich was amongst them on that topic as well - I dont want to be redundant.

If it helps, there have been several recent threads on Switzerland. If that is still a possibility, those may give you a good idea over what is possible, where people suggest to base fo hike/cycle/mountain. There have also been quite a few trip reports and threads on Vienna as well.



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Old May 28th, 2024, 07:16 AM
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What are the chances the two kids' wish lists will "evolve" over the next year? Could you travel the two weeks before the event in Berlin rather than after?

I understand the desire for this to be a "family" vacation, but it sounds like you and the 16 y.o. have one set of goals and an acceptable travel "style" and pace, while your husband and the 14 y.o. have different (and mostly opposite) goals and preferences. Tough job for the planner.

Consider flying Berlin-Bolzano and spending a week or so exploring the Dolomites. In Bolzano, don't miss the Ice Man exhibit at the archeology museum, but stay in one or two of the mountain towns. After the mountains, you could head to Lake Garda or Ferrara for a couple of days before continuing to Bologna/Modena. Verona could be a possibility, but I'm not sure how much the summer opera festival affects lodging availability and rates. From Modena or Bologna, your husband and 14 y.o. could make a day trip to Florence for the Accademia.

Which car companies is the 16 y.o. interested in? Have him investigate the two Ferrari locations, Lamborghini, Maserati and Pagani. Pagani is my favorite tour because it isn't just a robotic assembly line. People actually build the cars, but tours are not offered every day. Ferrari doesn't offer a true factory/assembly line tour, and I prefer the smaller museum in Modena over the "corporate" museum in Maranello. Lambo's assembly line is nearly entirely automated. I haven't been to the Maserati factory, but I believe its assembly line is also automated.
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Old May 28th, 2024, 07:57 AM
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How fun that you can all be together on this trip! You will be making wonderful memories!
Since you mentioned switching Modena to the beginning of the trip, that is what I would recommend. Is Modena a necessity for this trip? It seems like an unlikely pairing with Berlin.

I have very strong memories of Rome in July, feeling like my shoes were melting into the ground and almost fainting while touring the Forum. Our air conditioner barely worked and the summer crowds made everything feel stifling. We were on a summer schedule with our children and I do understand the constraints. And this was way before the current overwhelming crowds. We were in Florence, last October, and the crowds were unbelievable, I can't imagine adding the summer heat. I think doing Italy with the entire family should be saved for a cooler time frame. We eventually changed traveling with our family, to the minute they got out of school in May.

How about Amsterdam and nearby areas or Scandinavia? I think a lot depends on where you are coming from and where you can get the best airfare and the easiest connections. Enjoy!
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Old May 28th, 2024, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by coral22
How fun that you can all be together on this trip! You will be making wonderful memories!
Since you mentioned switching Modena to the beginning of the trip, that is what I would recommend. Is Modena a necessity for this trip? It seems like an unlikely pairing with Berlin.

I have very strong memories of Rome in July, feeling like my shoes were melting into the ground and almost fainting while touring the Forum. Our air conditioner barely worked and the summer crowds made everything feel stifling. We were on a summer schedule with our children and I do understand the constraints. And this was way before the current overwhelming crowds. We were in Florence, last October, and the crowds were unbelievable, I can't imagine adding the summer heat. I think doing Italy with the entire family should be saved for a cooler time frame. We eventually changed traveling with our family, to the minute they got out of school in May.

How about Amsterdam and nearby areas or Scandinavia? I think a lot depends on where you are coming from and where you can get the best airfare and the easiest connections. Enjoy!
Coral, it seems as if Modena is non-negotiable due to the interest in Motor Valley.
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Old May 28th, 2024, 08:20 AM
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@ Travel Nerd: Yes, I have done all of that! I was just hoping to get some fresh ideas if people were planning their own trips. We have such varied interests that it is practically impossible to provide. I could suggest something and 1 or 2 would enjoy it and 3 and 4 wouldn't. I plan most of my trips by going down rabbit holes on Google to be perfectly honest! We speak German and have spent a lot of time there, so would like a nudge to go somewhere else. Thanks for your replies!

Last edited by wendy17; May 28th, 2024 at 08:21 AM. Reason: include reply to
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Old May 28th, 2024, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean
What are the chances the two kids' wish lists will "evolve" over the next year? Could you travel the two weeks before the event in Berlin rather than after?

I understand the desire for this to be a "family" vacation, but it sounds like you and the 16 y.o. have one set of goals and an acceptable travel "style" and pace, while your husband and the 14 y.o. have different (and mostly opposite) goals and preferences. Tough job for the planner.

Consider flying Berlin-Bolzano and spending a week or so exploring the Dolomites. In Bolzano, don't miss the Ice Man exhibit at the archeology museum, but stay in one or two of the mountain towns. After the mountains, you could head to Lake Garda or Ferrara for a couple of days before continuing to Bologna/Modena. Verona could be a possibility, but I'm not sure how much the summer opera festival affects lodging availability and rates. From Modena or Bologna, your husband and 14 y.o. could make a day trip to Florence for the Accademia.

Which car companies is the 16 y.o. interested in? Have him investigate the two Ferrari locations, Lamborghini, Maserati and Pagani. Pagani is my favorite tour because it isn't just a robotic assembly line. People actually build the cars, but tours are not offered every day. Ferrari doesn't offer a true factory/assembly line tour, and I prefer the smaller museum in Modena over the "corporate" museum in Maranello. Lambo's assembly line is nearly entirely automated. I haven't been to the Maserati factory, but I believe its assembly line is also automated.
All great ideas. I can look closer at the calendar to see if we can do 2 weeks prior. Because he has to be totally in shape for the event, I hate for him to miss 2 weeks of training, hence the trip afterwards....my older son is definitely a Pagani guy, but wouldn't mind seen the others. I appreciate all of the insight on the car tours. That will help me guide our plans. Dolomites sound amazing in Summer. I have only been mid-winter and many many years ago!
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Old May 28th, 2024, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by coral22
How fun that you can all be together on this trip! You will be making wonderful memories!
Since you mentioned switching Modena to the beginning of the trip, that is what I would recommend. Is Modena a necessity for this trip? It seems like an unlikely pairing with Berlin.

I have very strong memories of Rome in July, feeling like my shoes were melting into the ground and almost fainting while touring the Forum. Our air conditioner barely worked and the summer crowds made everything feel stifling. We were on a summer schedule with our children and I do understand the constraints. And this was way before the current overwhelming crowds. We were in Florence, last October, and the crowds were unbelievable, I can't imagine adding the summer heat. I think doing Italy with the entire family should be saved for a cooler time frame. We eventually changed traveling with our family, to the minute they got out of school in May.

How about Amsterdam and nearby areas or Scandinavia? I think a lot depends on where you are coming from and where you can get the best airfare and the easiest connections. Enjoy!
Modena is definitely an unlikely pairing with Berlin. But, my son will head off to college shortly after that, so I want it to be a semi-graduation trip. He has had that on his list for several years now.

I definitely don't want that experience of Rome in July...or Florence for that matter. Maybe two of us just go to the Acaddemia Gallery if my teenager insists and if it's miserable, well, he was informed of that possibility.

We have four weeks to travel in winter due to a long break, so I really look forward to travelling off season once both my boys are in high school! Working around school is tough!

Thanks for the reply!
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Old May 28th, 2024, 10:13 AM
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I really like Jean's idea of Lake Garda and the Dolomites. There's a lot to see and do on Lake Garda, including Gardaland, a very nice amusement park near the town of Garda. I think your sons might enjoy that; my granddaughter, who has seen a number of amusement parks in the US, says Gardaland is in her top 3. Riding the cable car to the top of Mount Baldo is also fun.

You can take a train from Verona to Bolzano, where I agree that the museum of the ice man is very interesting. There are buses from Bolzano to Ortisei and Selva in the Val Gardena. From either of those towns you can reach the higher mountains and many hiking paths.
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Old May 28th, 2024, 10:21 AM
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I am surprised your husband would want to visit Rome given your description of his travel style and interests but, if he was willing to do Rome perhaps Florence would be a compromise for a short period of time. You can get advance tickets for many of the main museums: https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-rea...ns-in-florence. A hotel with good air-conditioning can be heaven sent.

When we visited Florence with our kids, we added a quest to find the best gelato and visited multiple gelaterias in-between our sight-seeing stops. Perhaps this would add interest for your younger son?
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Old May 28th, 2024, 11:16 AM
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Any thoughts either way to Venice and Verona? They're in your periphery and might be of interest?

May I ask what kind of sporting event? Is there a possibity to cut it down to a week before to not lose too much training and then travel the week after to home? As a recreational competitive figure skater, 2 weeks prior would push it. But i could lose a week before - actually is better for the mental aspect (for me).
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Old May 28th, 2024, 04:33 PM
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I forgot to mention, I would not go to Rome during that time frame. I did it once and it was too hot to enjoy.
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Old May 28th, 2024, 06:40 PM
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A number of years ago I took a career path that means that it is much easier to travel during summer or Christmas vacation or Spring Break. So I have been to Italy during high season a lot in the past decade+ after many years of traveling off-season.

I have been to Rome in July and--in 2022--August. I had wonderful albeit sweaty trips, but had visited Rome many times, so didn't feel the need/stress to see the "must-see" sites. Your family's flexibility about that and their need to stand in line at the Colosseum etc. may impact your enjoyment.

Just as an FYI the Po Valley (I guess that's what you call the "Motor Valley"?) gets super, super humid, and to me feels hotter than Rome during the dog days of summer. Especially Bologna.
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Old May 29th, 2024, 12:25 AM
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Farm stay in Tuscany?

What about a farm stay in Tuscany? (You mentioned a farm near Vienna so...) Many have pools and it could be a lovely, relaxing stay within driving distance of Florence and Modena. My daughter and her family stayed in a cottage at a farm that produced wine and olive oil. They really enjoyed it. (Look under agriturismo.it)
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Old May 29th, 2024, 01:19 AM
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Lots of stuff to unravel from above including the OP's request
I've travelled extensivly in Europe, I'm European, and I've still not visited all 50 countries, so anyone who thinks they have are awesome ;-)

I'd not talk about motor valley, it is the Po valley in which there are extensive car companies mainly due to the support the Fascists gave (and visa versa) to that area pre WW 2. The technology is fascinating and well worth visiting.

I'd look at a few options, but first, let me support the whole , no need to go to Rome. I visited Italy 11 times before I went to Rome and it is still not my favorite city but it is better than Naples ;-) As you know you have lousy dates.

Some people like to think big picture, others small. I would base myself in that quiet triangle of land north or in Montagnana and west of the Colli Euganei. Either in an agriturismo (see the .IT version of that on internet) or in Montagnana proper. A small pretty town it has access to the trains so the family can split up, you can go to Verona, Vicenza, Modena etc etc by train or car and you can return to a quieter evening. Obviously there are lots of alternative towns like this in the area, but hunt around and find a good combo of train/car/restaurants and a swimming pool and you will be fine.
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Old May 29th, 2024, 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Travel_Nerd
Any thoughts either way to Venice and Verona? They're in your periphery and might be of interest?

May I ask what kind of sporting event? Is there a possibity to cut it down to a week before to not lose too much training and then travel the week after to home? As a recreational competitive figure skater, 2 weeks prior would push it. But i could lose a week before - actually is better for the mental aspect (for me).
It is a sprint Paddling event, but he has long distance events after we return, so training prior to event is necessary. Also, my family will be joining us after the event, so we don't want to split the time and have them with us the full three weeks due to other constraints at home. Sigh....never easy.
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Old May 29th, 2024, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by bvlenci
I really like Jean's idea of Lake Garda and the Dolomites. There's a lot to see and do on Lake Garda, including Gardaland, a very nice amusement park near the town of Garda. I think your sons might enjoy that; my granddaughter, who has seen a number of amusement parks in the US, says Gardaland is in her top 3. Riding the cable car to the top of Mount Baldo is also fun.

You can take a train from Verona to Bolzano, where I agree that the museum of the ice man is very interesting. There are buses from Bolzano to Ortisei and Selva in the Val Gardena. From either of those towns you can reach the higher mountains and many hiking paths.
We have good friends that travel to Lake Garda frequently, so we should add that to our list. May be a good place for all. I have always had Bolzano in my sights as well, so I will take a closer look. Thanks!
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Old May 29th, 2024, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
Lots of stuff to unravel from above including the OP's request
I've travelled extensivly in Europe, I'm European, and I've still not visited all 50 countries, so anyone who thinks they have are awesome ;-)

I'd not talk about motor valley, it is the Po valley in which there are extensive car companies mainly due to the support the Fascists gave (and visa versa) to that area pre WW 2. The technology is fascinating and well worth visiting.

I'd look at a few options, but first, let me support the whole , no need to go to Rome. I visited Italy 11 times before I went to Rome and it is still not my favorite city but it is better than Naples ;-) As you know you have lousy dates.

Some people like to think big picture, others small. I would base myself in that quiet triangle of land north or in Montagnana and west of the Colli Euganei. Either in an agriturismo (see the .IT version of that on internet) or in Montagnana proper. A small pretty town it has access to the trains so the family can split up, you can go to Verona, Vicenza, Modena etc etc by train or car and you can return to a quieter evening. Obviously there are lots of alternative towns like this in the area, but hunt around and find a good combo of train/car/restaurants and a swimming pool and you will be fine.
Certainly haven't seen all of Europe and didn't represent that. Just that we have seen enough to not need logistics advice and this isn't our first rodeo. Since we haven't seen it all and Google is what it is, I was hoping for fresh perspectives. I prefer small picture travelling for sure. And yes, we have lousy dates, but it is what it is. It is a long, expensive trip to get to Berlin for a sporting event, I would like to take my kiddo to see Pagani, since he will be at college soon and who knows if we will have many family trips together, so we will adapt. Making chicken salad, out of chicken....well, you know. I will look at Montagnana. I appreciate the suggestions. Technology is the one thing the family does agree on, so definitely a good base.
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