Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

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BillWalters
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Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by BillWalters »

Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
Frugalbear
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Frugalbear »

3 pieces of advice:

1. Always ride business class on the FS trains. It's 100% worth it.
2. When you are in Florence, go to Perche No! For the best gelato possible in Italy (not kidding, I've eaten a lot of gelato in Italy).
3. When in Venice, you buy the water taxi ticket in the tabacco shops. If they are closed let the captain or staff welcoming you on the boat immediately and pay them. Wife and I got fined, kind of glad we got caught, fun memory!

Bonus: wear comfortable sneakers lots of walking!

For hotels, the Hilton in Venezia and il Duomo hotel in Firenze.

Have fun! Your kids are lucky they get to see all of that beautiful culture. Cheers!
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Peter Foley
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Peter Foley »

My wife and I took a two week trip to Italy in late winter/early spring of 2020. (We were lucky in that we left just as the Covid 19 outbreak was starting.)

In Rome we stayed in a small hotel a few blocks north of the Trevi fountain near Piazza Barbarini and were able to walk everywhere. I highly recommend that general location.

I would suggest a day in Assisi. Take the morning train to Assisi, reserve a hotel room near the train station, drop your luggage and take the local bus into the city. Spend the day and take the bus back to the hotel at night. The next day take the morning train to Florence.

Florence is very walkable. We stayed a few blocks from the train station and walked to all the sights. You may want to consider a day trip to Pisa out of Florence. It is easily done and well worth the day.

From Florence we went to Padua where we stayed with distant relatives we had met through genealogical research. They are French, now living in Italy, and this was the 4th time we have gotten together. Very insightful to travel with locals. While Padua is nice, it does not compare to Venice. Spending three days there sounds about right.
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Watty
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Watty »

Are you sure that you will be able to go with the COVID travel restrictions?

This web page seems to make that seem unlikely.

https://it.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

You also need to be concerned about being able to return and the rules frequently change and people have been either stranded overseas or had to quarantine when they return.

Even if you can get there many of the tourist destinations may be closed.

It doesn't seem like this is a very realistic time to plan a trip to Italy.

That said you should see the Rick Steves books and website to plan your itinerary. Be sure to get your tickets to the Vatican far in advance, it is a must see even if you are not religious.

In Florence one site that would be easy to miss is the Museo Galileo which is a historical science museum that have a lot of very old scientific instruments including some that were made by Galileo.

https://www.museogalileo.it/en/

One oddity they have there is Galileo's middle finger.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/gal ... dle-finger

In normal times the main tourist areas of Venice are overrun so you should not spend much time there. What I enjoyed most was just riding the inexpensive vaporetto boats(basically a water bus) and enjoying the view at different times of day. Be sure to also get a good map and just go for long walks and get semi lost. Be sure that you have very good directions to your hotel since they can be hard to find. Be very careful about paying a lot for any Murano glass, a lot of the glass that is sold in some tourist stores is actually made in China.
navyitaly
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by navyitaly »

I lived there for 3.5 years as I’m military. You can’t travel across regions now. Go to Facebook and look for US Naval Support Activity Naples they have all the rules there on their FB page.
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Raybo
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Raybo »

Book tickets for museums on-line.
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cinghiale
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by cinghiale »

OP, you need to provide your travel dates. If your flights are this year, that could be a problem. Some locations, Venice for example, may be “open” for tourism, but with many restaurants closed and with limited hours of operations and access to sites. Covid is spiking all across Europe, and seven French cities are now under a curfew. The current trend across the continent is toward greater restriction, not further loosening. Look at this morning’s headlines with Ireland’s lockdown, for example.

That said, if you go, and if you make it to Venice, check out Kofler Pizza (Sestiere di San Marco 3989). Excellent pizza. Go there for lunch. And the gelato... since you have a 9 and 7 year-old. Find a Grom. There are three locations in Venice. And if you like coffee, be sure to find a place serving Goppion (the regional blend) or stop by a Cafe Venezia. And for an on-the-go bite, make it a point to stop in at the Bar alla Tolleta ( https://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_ ... eneto.html).

In Venice, be sure to see the interior of St. Mark’s Basilica when it is illuminated. The easiest and least crowded way to do that is to attend a Mass, though you will have to gauge the patience of the young ones’ ability to sit through an hour of liturgy in a foreign language. And try to get on the #1 line of the vaporetto and ride it down the Grand Canal and around the lagoon. On a clear day with good visibility, skip the lines at the bell tower in St. Mark’s and go over to San Giorgio Maggiore. Go into the church to find the entrance to the bell tower there. Take the elevator, go up, and take in St. Mark’s and the entire lagoon from the top. Your children will love this, and it’s a great photo op.

If you include Florence, I second the recommendation for the Hotel Duomo.

Update us when you know that your trip is a “go.”
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z91
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by z91 »

+1 on checking travel restrictions, they are changing daily. I personally would not risk anything with two young kids but to each their own.
neverpanic
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by neverpanic »

https://www.timeout.com/news/italy-has- ... now-101620 - You probably already know that you'll likely need a negative covid test before boarding your flight in both directions.

In Venice, get the multi-museum pass. From Venice, take a day trip to Murano and Burano. I agree about the Murano glass. Just the touch of the artificial stuff made me cringe. Avoid taking a gondola ride. They're a next-level tourist trap and not worth the money at all. There are several other boat tours available for a fraction of the price. Despite its reputation for being crowded, it's my experience that one is never more than a few minutes' walk from a peaceful square or small cafe away from the main tourist areas.

Rome: Download the Citymapper app for your smartphone. As of 2019, for anything involving public transit, it's normally superior to your phone's regular map apps. You likely already know about the 7-day metro pass. It's a no-brainer for the convenience alone. For me, all of Italy is wonderful. Although Rome is very much a city, it's got many places to just stand and absorb and appreciate your surroundings. The only thing I disliked about Rome this past trip was that it's got far more enter-your-space trinket dealers today than there were just 5-6 years earlier. And yes, they do target kids and teens, not in a threatening way, but in a way designed to get the kid excited about the 5-cent toy or bracelet before you see what has happened.

Tuscany: Rent a car and enjoy the countryside!
I am not a financial professional or guru. I'm a schmuck who got lucky 10 times. Such is the life of the trader.
hunoraut
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by hunoraut »

BillWalters wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 pm Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
* Rome: there are 2 very good guides for them. most of major tips has to do around timing and tickets, particularly for extremely busy places like the vatican. romevacationtips.com and romewise.com

* Food: eater.com's guide to rome is absolutely legitimate. special note is around pizza. while sicily is the home place of pizza, the so called "third-wave pizza" movement in Rome is amazing.

* My absolute favorite place in Tuscany region, and all of Italy, is Sienna. Gorgeous city and packed into a much more manageable scale, especially if you need to cover it with children.

* Common form of lodging in that area is "Agriturismo". It is staying in converted farmhouses in the countryside, often with food offers. It is very relaxing "local" experience. But you will need a car to travel back and forth.

* Lastly, if you have a car, stop by any of the hilltop medieval cities/towns. There are countless numbers of them, and some of them are literally abandoned and hauntingly beautiful. If you're driving from Rome, examples are Viterbo, Civita di Bagnoregio, Gubbio, etc. But there are so many. Pick your own favorite
bi0hazard
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by bi0hazard »

Surely you’re not planning on traveling during the pandemic... that would be silly, to put it nicely. I assume you mean next year.

One thing I can say from experience, is that small kids get bored of adult things to see in Europe (art, castles, museums, etc). I’d plan a day or two on the beach. In particular, there are nice beaches east of Venice.
Valuethinker
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Valuethinker »

BillWalters wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 pm Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
In light of current travel restrictions I would say everything is open to last minute change. I would expect that situation to persist at least until tnext Spring. If not quite a bit longer.
jw50
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by jw50 »

Live in the UK. Italy and France are my favourite European countries for travel.

In the current covid environment, I would strongly caution against international travel before the vaccine (of course, personal opinion only). Like investing, think of the range of outcome and potential worse case scenario.

If you/family get Covid (definitely possible), where are you going to quarantine?

If you do choose to travel, make sure your travel insurance cover covid including medical repatriation!

Tough decision if you already book the flights (sunk cost), maybe you can delay it until next year.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Valuethinker »

jw50 wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:08 am Live in the UK. Italy and France are my favourite European countries for travel.

In the current covid environment, I would strongly caution against international travel before the vaccine (of course, personal opinion only). Like investing, think of the range of outcome and potential worse case scenario.

If you/family get Covid (definitely possible), where are you going to quarantine?

If you do choose to travel, make sure your travel insurance cover covid including medical repatriation!

Tough decision if you already book the flights (sunk cost), maybe you can delay it until next year.
That's it, really.

I know about the France situation which does not sound good. Not sure about Italy -- they had the worst problem in Europe, they also had the toughest lockdown (not permitted to go more than 3 metres from your front door without a permitted purpose i.e. food shopping or work), and seemed to get better. Not sure, now. Those pictures in Bergamo of Italian army soldiers marching stretchers with bodybags out of the overflowing mortuaries ... I am guessing but don't know that masks are mandatory in public in Italy right now?

The UK is basically shuffling towards lockdown (different regional governments at different paces). Wales is already there, Scotland is preparing a Level of emergency which is total lockdown beyond the English level 3. England is lagging, but c 11m people are in basically a quasi-lockdown aka Level 3 (so say 1/5th of population).

One would want to be very careful about travel insurance, particularly the healthcare part. There are places in England, now, where the hospitals have no more ICU beds available.

Flights are a sunk cost in this. Hopefully we are better by next spring, but cases have been rising for 12 weeks, and deaths will assuredly follow, presently.
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4nursebee
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by 4nursebee »

I looked in to a family trip trying to find a tour for a Locatelli Romano factory. Any ideas? I could find other cheese things, but this cheese is special!
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guilard1
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by guilard1 »

You might want to consider renting a car. I did when I went there. I am not a big car person, but it was so much fun driving on the highways of Italy. They only use the left lane to pass, so you can pretty much go any speed you want without being stuck behind someone going slow. There are so many little towns that you can hit. Genoa, Piza, Chinque Terre, Umbria, montepulciano, etc. It will be much easier to get around with a car. I would not recommend driving it inside a walled city though. And You will probably want to ask for an automatic when you rent one. You also need to get an international drivers license. I got mine at AAA. Anyways .. Just a suggestion
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BillWalters
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by BillWalters »

Sorry, should have mentioned, we are going in Summer 2021.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Outer Marker »

Rome might not have been built in a day, but it can be seen in one. Get up early, walk through the coliseum, ruins of the senate, Trevi fountain, etc. Its all pretty, but I'm not big on "sights" and museums. Sorry, Dad.

I do a lot of travel, and when I go to a country for fun I like to get out of the big cities and vacation where the locals do. I'd cut time short in the big tourist cities and get out in the country - Sardinia and the Amalfi Coast.
azanon
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by azanon »

z91 wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:18 am +1 on checking travel restrictions, they are changing daily. I personally would not risk anything with two young kids but to each their own.
Yeah I thought for all intents and purposes, darn near all of Europe was locked down for Americans with least case scenario a 14 day quarantine. Heck, for me in Arkansas, Im largely restricted to intrastate vacations because even many other states won’t let me travel to their state without a 14 day quarantine.
hunoraut
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by hunoraut »

Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:49 am Rome might not have been built in a day, but it can be seen in one. Get up early, walk through the coliseum, ruins of the senate, Trevi fountain, etc. Its all pretty, but I'm not big on "sights" and museums. Sorry, Dad.
This might be the most looniest tip ever written. I've been to every capital on the continent and I can't think of a more history- and sight- dense place than Rome. You'll need minimum half a day for the Vatican, alone. Not counting the time to get in the place, even with prebooked tickets and all sorts of queue accelerators.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Outer Marker »

hunoraut wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:56 am
Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:49 am Rome might not have been built in a day, but it can be seen in one. Get up early, walk through the coliseum, ruins of the senate, Trevi fountain, etc. Its all pretty, but I'm not big on "sights" and museums. Sorry, Dad.
This might be the most looniest tip ever written. I've been to every capital on the continent and I can't think of a more history- and sight- dense place than Rome. You'll need minimum half a day for the Vatican, alone. Not counting the time to get in the place, even with prebooked tickets and all sorts of queue accelerators.
A little tongue-in-cheek, but just a little. Point being, most people spend a lot of time in big cities and "looking" at things rather than "doing" things. Maybe I'm a little jaded. I do a LOT of travel and am probably in Europe 6 times a year and Asia 3 times. Been to Rome more times than I can count. Its a fun city. I just wouldn't make big cities the centerpiece of my vacation.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Valuethinker »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:29 am Sorry, should have mentioned, we are going in Summer 2021.
1. there is no way of telling what will, or will not, be restricted next summer. The pattern set seems to be of opening up, followed by local or regional lockdowns. But whole countries get quarantined.

2. August in Italy is hell, because that's when all of Europe is on holiday. Assuming that Europeans are allowed to travel to Italy then the beaches will be absolutely rammed, and the cities hot and crowded with tourists (but the locals will be absent, except for the ill-tempered ones serving tourists).

July is a bit easier (but still bad). Go easy on the heavy duty sites in my view. That is the Forum and the Colosseum are interesting, outdoors etc. But you probably don't need to see so many museums and the Vatican Museum means hours of queuing up and crowding to get to the Sisteen Chapel and then that's done in 10 minutes. Unless your family is Roman Catholic in which case I can understand the desire to see it (St Peter's itself is magnificent and worth the tour). It will be very, very hot. Bring sun hat, suntan lotion, water bottle. Remember there will be constant bag searches.

Beware of pickpockets. Some of the world's most professional thieves converge on Italian tourist spots. Also beware of being short changed - had that problem at money change places and restaurants in Rome (and Venice) -- extra things added onto restaurant bill, etc.

Legally they *must* give you a receipt and you must hold onto it until you have left the place of sale (even for take-away ice cream etc) -- this is to combat VAT fraud. The Italians theatrically fling them down on the bar floor - but that's illegal.

Florence and Venice are both wonderful and somewhat overwhelming. You really want to get out into the countryside to get a flavour for Italy as a country. Easy to travel by train between Florence and Venice (takes about half a day). Italian intercity trains are very good. Staying in Venice itself, especially in summer, is very expensive. You might be better off to stay in Le Maistre (mainland, adjoining) and just take a bus across (although that won't work so well if you go to Venice train station, I don't know if there's a convenient train station on the mainland).

If you must do Venice, try to hit St Mark's Square before 8 AM, before it gets insanely crowded. Or after 8 pm - the city is very thinly populated at night, so by 1030 it's a ghost town -- the big cruise ship tours have gone home.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Outer Marker »

Valuethinker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:25 am August in Italy is hell, because that's when all of Europe is on holiday. Assuming that Europeans are allowed to travel to Italy then the beaches will be absolutely rammed, and the cities hot and crowded with tourists (but the locals will be absent, except for the ill-tempered ones serving tourists).
Exactly! That's why I blazed through Rome in a day with a new girlfriend that hadn't seen it.

Completely agree with getting up early to see the major sites before they get swarmed. No fun walking though the Coliseum in 100 degree heat with 8,000 of your closest friends.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Freeadvice »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:29 am Sorry, should have mentioned, we are going in Summer 2021.
Hopefully
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by NYCaviator »

Assuming you are traveling next year and things are actually back open...

A lot depends on what you like to do (museums, wine tasting, relaxing?) and what time of year you go. You could easily spend 3-4 days in Rome, which I highly recommend. It is my favorite city in the world, and is quintessential Italy. We rent an Air BnB in Trastevere, which a great neighborhood that is still within walking distance of the major tourist sites, but is more laid back than a hotel in the city center.

If you've never been to Italy, definitely do Florence and Venice. Both are amazing cities, and on the "must do" list for an Italy trip. Venice has not been the same for the last decade; it's expensive and filled with wall to wall tourists. But, you definitely have to do it once, even if it is just a day trip.

If you are looking for relaxing, Tuscany and Lake Como should be on the list. On our last few trips we've rented a car in Rome or taken the train to Arezzo and rented one there. Get an Air BnB near a small hill town. A rental car makes a huge difference in Tuscany since there are so many small towns you can drive to for a day trip. If you like wine tasting, there are also tons of vineyards. Lake Como is beautiful, and worth a couple/few days. Depending on the time of year, Cinque Terre is gorgeous and all five towns are accessible by train. We like to go there in the fall when it isn't too crowded but things are still open.

The nice thing about Italy is that getting around is not hard. They have an excellent train system. If it is your first trip to Italy, maybe do the big tourist sites (Rome, Florence, Venice) and you will be hooked; it won't be your last trip! If you rent a car, only do it when you are leaving the major cities (i.e. don't try and park it in Rome or Florence) and ALWAYS get some sort of insurance and ALWAYS take copious pictures of the car before you pick it up and after you drop it off (speaking from personal experience). Rental car companies in Italy love to charge you for "damage" they conveniently find after you leave...
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by THY4373 »

Love Italy but I'd consider travel next summer still pretty darn speculative. I am booking speculative trips (and have been for months and cancelling them as they approach because the situation has not improved--the benefit of points bookings). Personally if I were doing this I'd make sure as much as what I did was refundable/flexible. I would also strongly consider getting Cancellation for Any Reason coverage travel insurance if I had a large amount of non-refundable bookings. Finally as much as possible I would book directly with the hotels/airlines, online travel agencies (Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.) generally just add another layer that complicates refunds considerably (with each side blaming the other). Good luck and I hope for both of our sakes travel by next summer is really possible.
hunoraut
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by hunoraut »

summer in Tuscany - assuming events are allowed to resume - has the Palio di Siena. As a cultural event its a wonderfully pageant. It's not just about watching a horse race (which ends quite quickly) but the surrounding spectacle leading up to it... you can book an open-air neighborhood dinner and soak in the atmosphere. Kids would enjoy IMO :beer
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Watty
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Watty »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:29 am Sorry, should have mentioned, we are going in Summer 2021.
When people post asking about travel insurance this company is often recommended and I have used them for similar trips in normal times.

https://tripinsurancestore.com/

Typically you have about a week after you make your first payment to get travel insurance so it would be good to call them and ask about what trip insurance is available, if anything. Call their 800 number and do not try to use their web page. Be sure to also ask them if the insurance will cover you if the airline goes bankrupt, a lot of them are in big trouble.

As another post mentioned getting insurance to back from Europe in various situations and that would be my main concern.

When you travel it would be good to make sure that you will have funds available if your return is delayed for several weeks, or even longer. One risk to keep in mind is that if your return is delayed for several weeks then you could lose your job.

Be sure to understand the cancelation policies for anything that you book and mark your calendar for the last date you can cancel so that you can make a "go/no go" decision.

In addition to Italy you also need to be concerned about any countries that your flight may stop in, like London.
Last edited by Watty on Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by CycloRista »

BillWalters wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 pm Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
.

Purchase a copy of Rick Steve's Italy travel book. It has excellent information about how best to plan your time, sites to see, etc. in the major cities.

5-6 days in Rome is a long time... there is a lot to see but you may be able to shave a day off and utilize it elsewhere. I highly recommend staying just across the Tiber river in Trastevere.

Call the Borghese Gallery in advance to reserve tickets it is one of the best galleries I've ever been to... not large but fantastic and lots of open space outside for the kids to play. Ticket reservation is required for all visitors.

Venice is wonderful particularly if you stay in an Airbnb away from the super-touristy section.

I haven't been to Tuscany yet... went all the way to the coast and stayed in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.
gtd98765
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by gtd98765 »

Last time we were in Rome in 2017, we ate at a couple of restaurants rated highly in Tripadvisor, and they were not very good. Rely on restaurant recommendations from a guidebook like Steves, Frommer's, etc.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by NYCaviator »

gtd98765 wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:06 am Last time we were in Rome in 2017, we ate at a couple of restaurants rated highly in Tripadvisor, and they were not very good. Rely on restaurant recommendations from a guidebook like Steves, Frommer's, etc.
This x100. There are some shady ways that restaurants and other attractions are getting inflated Tripadvisor ratings. You can't go wrong with Rick Steves (or Lonely Planet).
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ResearchMed
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by ResearchMed »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:29 am Sorry, should have mentioned, we are going in Summer 2021.
You might edit your first post and include "2021" in the main title, to avoid lots more of the specific concerns about the next several months... or even the next year+.

As for travel insurance, including medical, try contacting

www.TripInsuranceStore.com
But CALL them, don't just rely upon the online plan summaries. The "fine print" can *really* matter here, and even more so about COVID issues.
We've had several claims, including two large ones, from Travel Insured, with the policy purchased through TIS. There was no nonsense about getting the claims paid with proper documentation, which seemed reasonable.

They are a broker using several vetted insurers. (No extra cost to travelers.)

They also are keeping up to date about coverage (or lack thereof) for COVID-related situations.

So enjoy planning; you'll have lots of time for that :happy
And then enjoy your trip!

RM
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rjbraun
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by rjbraun »

Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:18 am
hunoraut wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:56 am
Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:49 am Rome might not have been built in a day, but it can be seen in one. Get up early, walk through the coliseum, ruins of the senate, Trevi fountain, etc. Its all pretty, but I'm not big on "sights" and museums. Sorry, Dad.
This might be the most looniest tip ever written. I've been to every capital on the continent and I can't think of a more history- and sight- dense place than Rome. You'll need minimum half a day for the Vatican, alone. Not counting the time to get in the place, even with prebooked tickets and all sorts of queue accelerators.
A little tongue-in-cheek, but just a little. Point being, most people spend a lot of time in big cities and "looking" at things rather than "doing" things. Maybe I'm a little jaded. I do a LOT of travel and am probably in Europe 6 times a year and Asia 3 times. Been to Rome more times than I can count. Its a fun city. I just wouldn't make big cities the centerpiece of my vacation.
Ha! To each his or her own, I suppose. We've been going to Rome most years for a while now (returned in late January this year and, sadly, don't know when we will be able to visit again). I think we started with about a one week visit. That has increased to about two weeks more recently, and we still run out of time and need to save things for future visits.

This last time we really enjoyed our mosaics class led by local artisans of international renown:

https://www.studiocassio.com/en/home-en/
NJdad6
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by NJdad6 »

Sounds like a great trip. Did something similar in 2019. A great day trip was a visit to Pompeii. My kids are older but wanted to see it after learning about it in history and Latin classes. I am glad we did it, one of the highlights of the trip.

There are a few options but we did a high speed train out of Rome (about 7:00am) to Naples and then the tour of Pompeii. We were back in Rome by 1:00ish. I think we booked through Trip Advisor. There is a cheaper bus trip that is all day. I am glad we chose the high speed train. There is no shade so bring a hat and plenty if water.

I also recommend getting the business/first class train tickets ahead of time. The difference in price is very small and the larger seats are worth it. Weird thing with the trains is that the seats are not numbered the way you would think. I can’t remember the details but I booked 4 seats in order and they were not all together. Near each other but across rows and some times separated.

Also, book museums in Florence a month or two before you leave. Otherwise you might be waiting on line for hours. I know I am all over the place here but definitely get a tour of the Coliseum in Rome (I believe this is the only way you can get inside). It was incredible. There are places where you can still see the original plaster moldings and paint. Only tour we were not crazy about was the Vatican. Way too crowded, long and hot. Glad I did it but no desire to see it again. As far as the rest of Italy we can’t wait to go back.
jw50
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by jw50 »

Hopefully life will be more normal summer next year.

As other posters have already mentioned, if you want to go to the most popular places, try to avoid the peak season if possible.

Again depends on you/family interest. If you like walking and scenerie, I can highly recommend renting a car and do a loop of the north west of Italy. Paradiso national park and Monte Rosa/Gressony are possibly the most beatiful places I have been to in my travel.

booking.com is a good source of accomodation.
if you rent a car, you might want to get stand alone excess insurance. Much cheaper than from the rental car company. I do not know where you live, in the UK, it is fairly straight forward.
deserat
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by deserat »

CycloRista wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:33 am
BillWalters wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 pm Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
.

Purchase a copy of Rick Steve's Italy travel book. It has excellent information about how best to plan your time, sites to see, etc. in the major cities.

5-6 days in Rome is a long time... there is a lot to see but you may be able to shave a day off and utilize it elsewhere. I highly recommend staying just across the Tiber river in Trastevere.

Call the Borghese Gallery in advance to reserve tickets it is one of the best galleries I've ever been to... not large but fantastic and lots of open space outside for the kids to play. Ticket reservation is required for all visitors.

Venice is wonderful particularly if you stay in an Airbnb away from the super-touristy section.

I haven't been to Tuscany yet... went all the way to the coast and stayed in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.
Several thumbs up on the Rick Steve's books - his DIY city walks are great - I've done both the Rome and Venice ones. They were great and covered the highlights as well as little known aspects. He's well known now, so his restaurant and hotel recommendations are sometimes hard to get reservations to or are packed.

Rome - you can highlight a different historical age: Roman, medieval, WWII, etc, and then use that theme each day to see the different sights. Of course hit the highlights, but I was also amazed at the ruins that were in the middle of a neighborhood and where Julius Caesar was supposedly killed - it's run over by cats now :-)

While in Rome, you could take a day trip to Orvieto (nice hill-top town) or to Pompeii/Herculanuem (Rick Steve's mentions the train to take/etc). There is also Flix bus between Florence and Siena - those towns competed and the art/architecture show how Florence evolved during the Renaissance while Siena remained pre-Renaissance. Nevertheless, both are *great* towns. Siena has il Palio and the town center along with a beautiful cathedral with marble inlaid floors of historical depictions...great town. Florence has "David" and Bruneleschi's dome along with Uffizi....both have wonderful food.

If your children are active, a couple of days along the Cinque Terra might be nice - that is an intermediate hike along the Italian north Mediterranean coast that is beautiful.

I am not a big fan of Venice, although the walk that Rick Steves has which takes you all over the town (to the military academy and smaller town squares along with St Mark's. It is a must and favorite of some; Florence and Siena are my favorites.

One other idea for research: go to the library and check out all the different guides. They tend to cater to different budgets and interests. Pick what you like the most out of all of those and use that as a guide: Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, Eyewitness, etc. I've found small guides for towns that also suggest itineraries for a certain amount of days, so you'll see 1-2-3 and 5 day suggested itineraries. Also, give a bit of free-time in your schedule to allow serendipity to work.

You will have a great time and your children will have wonderful memories.

Buon Fortuna....
Workaholic
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Workaholic »

BillWalters wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 pm Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
I did a trip like this with friends a few years ago and it was a blast! Here's my advice:

Make sure to stay in centrally located hotels in every city especially with kids that age. Don't know your budget but if you can splurge a bit...both the St Regis in Rome and in Florence are absolutely spectacular hotels with GREAT locations. Would highly recommend both.

Make sure to stay in Venice and NOT on a surrounding island. Very much a PITA having to take a boat shuttle. I'd recommend staying on the grand canal as the view is incredible.

A day trip or overnight trip to Cinque Terre is worth it if you have time in your schedule.

I'd personally skip Pisa and the leaning tower...IMO a huge tourist trap not worth the $$ or time wasted.

Pompeii...some love it, some could leave it. We went and while it was interesting...not sure if I'd say it's worth the time if you're limited.
z91
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by z91 »

Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:18 am
hunoraut wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:56 am
Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:49 am Rome might not have been built in a day, but it can be seen in one. Get up early, walk through the coliseum, ruins of the senate, Trevi fountain, etc. Its all pretty, but I'm not big on "sights" and museums. Sorry, Dad.
This might be the most looniest tip ever written. I've been to every capital on the continent and I can't think of a more history- and sight- dense place than Rome. You'll need minimum half a day for the Vatican, alone. Not counting the time to get in the place, even with prebooked tickets and all sorts of queue accelerators.
A little tongue-in-cheek, but just a little. Point being, most people spend a lot of time in big cities and "looking" at things rather than "doing" things. Maybe I'm a little jaded. I do a LOT of travel and am probably in Europe 6 times a year and Asia 3 times. Been to Rome more times than I can count. Its a fun city. I just wouldn't make big cities the centerpiece of my vacation.
+1 we are the same way. My wife and I went on a trip to Europe many years ago and was only able to spend a single a day in Rome, but we were able to see all the sights we wanted/planned. You could spend 3 weeks just in Rome and fill up the entire time, but DW neither or myself were particularly interested in knowing about all the history. We definitely had to rush a bit that day, but we were able to get it done. Going into the Vatican for example, was one thing we avoided; we visited the site but did not go in. Different strokes for different folks.
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willthrill81
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by willthrill81 »

Be sure to take very comfortable shoes. Be prepared to walk at least five miles every day and, if needed, get in physical shape to do so now.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
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ResearchMed
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by ResearchMed »

NJdad6 wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:57 am
<snip>

I also recommend getting the business/first class train tickets ahead of time. The difference in price is very small and the larger seats are worth it. Weird thing with the trains is that the seats are not numbered the way you would think. I can’t remember the details but I booked 4 seats in order and they were not all together. Near each other but across rows and some times separated.

<snip>
On at least one of the two main train companies' websites, there is a way, when selecting seats, to "see" the seat layout, including the numbering. We found that very useful.

And I also recommend the business/first class.

Also, the difference in 'travel quality' between the high speed trains and the local trains can be dramatic, with the "business or first class" being... not quite so...
We wanted to go to Orvieto, en route between Florence and Rome, to meet friends for lunch. The fast train didn't stop there, so although we had taken the fast train to Florence, we took the local back a few days later.

RM
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rich126
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by rich126 »

Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:31 am
Valuethinker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:25 am August in Italy is hell, because that's when all of Europe is on holiday. Assuming that Europeans are allowed to travel to Italy then the beaches will be absolutely rammed, and the cities hot and crowded with tourists (but the locals will be absent, except for the ill-tempered ones serving tourists).
Exactly! That's why I blazed through Rome in a day with a new girlfriend that hadn't seen it.

Completely agree with getting up early to see the major sites before they get swarmed. No fun walking though the Coliseum in 100 degree heat with 8,000 of your closest friends.
At some point if I'm lucky enough I will have to give southern Italy a second chance but I was there for work 20 years ago and was glad to leave. And summer would be terrible. I avoided Italy for a long time afterwards but then went back to northern Italy (Milan, Bergamo, Lake Como) and it was really nice. Didn't have the crowds and horrible traffic of the south.

Generally I plan my trips in the fall/winter or spring and definitely avoid summers.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Outer Marker »

For restaurants, go to a swank bar and chat up some of the locals. “What’s your favorite place for ... If you’re not shy, it’s fun, and I’ve found some of my best meals that way include some far off the beaten track that would never appear in a guides.
hunoraut
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by hunoraut »

Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:06 am For restaurants, go to a swank bar and chat up some of the locals. “What’s your favorite place for ... If you’re not shy, it’s fun, and I’ve found some of my best meals that way include some far off the beaten track that would never appear in a guides.
This works if you assume doing the same thing in your local swank bar would produce reliable results for your own city...
BigMoneyNoWhammies
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by BigMoneyNoWhammies »

BillWalters wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 pm Airfare is already handled. We have two weeks, flying in and out of Rome.

My kids will be 9 and 7. My initial plan is 5-6 days in Rome, train to Venice, a few days there then the rest of the time in Florence / Tuscany.

Any help is appreciated. I’ve never been to Italy and it seems almost all google search results are thinly veiled ads. Help with my general plan and any recommendations for hotels or things to see would be fantastic.
A few observations from the times I've visited Italy. I can't speak to the Tuscan region as I've yet to visit, but I have been to Venice and Rome multiple times:

I found it difficult to do everything I wanted to do in the 5-6 days I was in Rome each time, especially the first visit. I would try to thoroughly plan ahead what you wanted to do, and try to do activities that are in generally close proximity to one another on a single day to minimize having to criss cross back and forth all over the city. I didn't do this the first few days of my initial trip to Rome and it cut down on the number of sites I was able to visit.

For rentals we never stayed in hotels; we always did some sort of airbnb style rental where we had an entire apartment/home to ourselves since we were always travelling with a large group of 7-9 adults. I can't speak to the hotel prices, but our stays were always reasonably priced per person at these sort of accommodations.

If you have an interest in visiting the Vatican, set aside an entire day for it. Lines are typically very long during tourist season, and there is quite a lot to see there. Same goes for the archaeological remains at the Roman Forum. Crowds weren't nearly as big an issue there for me as the Vatican, but for a history buff it's a lot to attempt to see in a short time if you have other sites you want to go to later in the day.

The subway system in Rome was fairly good based on the handful of times I utilized it, but for the most part we walked everywhere, which was enjoyable in and of itself. There are numerous sites worth visiting that are all within a reasonable walking distance of one another near the heart of the city, and many roads are closed to cars, making walking an easier option.

Avoid taking taxis in Rome if you can; they often fraudulently attempt to charge unsuspecting foreigners prices that are far above what the going rate is, particularly near tourist destinations. One taxi driver tried to get my father and I to pay 50 euros for a 7 block drive.

When my family went we also avoided eating near major tourist destinations. Generally, the closer you are to a tourist hot spot, the more likely you were to get subpar food or food that wasn't any different than you'd get back home. Go off the beaten path a bit; the dining experience was better 90% of the time we did this.

Take the time to learn some Italian before you go if possible. A little of the mother tongue goes a LONG way towards ensuring pleasant interactions with the locals, especially those in retail and food service who see hundreds of foreigners daily. It tickles the locals when visitors can interact with them in their own language a bit, and basically every personal interaction I had with a local in Italy went better when I threw in some Italian. It also helps avoid mishaps like the taxi swindle I mentioned above.

Be sure to avoid visiting Venice during the rainy season, when a majority of the city is flooded. If you go during the spring and summer as is typical for most visitors you'll easily avoid this, but if your trip is in autumn try to visit before October when the acqua alta (high water) starts.

Visit the Caffè Florian in the Piazza San Marco (which in and of itself will also definitely be somewhere you want to visit). It's the oldest coffee shop in the world, and sitting outside in the Piazza drinking an espresso was a treat. They also sell delicious chocolate covered espresso beans.

When visiting the many beautiful churches in Venice, keep in mind that some of them have dress codes to enter which are strictly enforced. Clothing entirely covering the legs is sometimes required (more often for women than men) even in the dead of summer, and occasionally they'll force you to cover up with a provided piece of cloth to enter the church as a sign of respect. Clothing items like sleeveless shirts are also sometimes not allowed. If hopping from church to church it can be worth it to bring along a long sleeve tee.
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Outer Marker »

hunoraut wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:12 am
Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:06 am For restaurants, go to a swank bar and chat up some of the locals. “What’s your favorite place for ... If you’re not shy, it’s fun, and I’ve found some of my best meals that way include some far off the beaten track that would never appear in a guides.
This works if you assume doing the same thing in your local swank bar would produce reliable results for your own city...
Definitely! People take pride in showcasing their home town. And, it’s a good conversation starter. If you go to Rome, stay at the Hilton and eat at the big restaurant filled with other Americans with Fromers guides on the table, you might as well not have left the US. I remember an incredible meal I found this way in Sardinia. Basically a farmer’s house, open only one night a week on Saturday. A feast put on for guests with everything grown on the farm.

Another good source is your flight crew. Ask the flight attendants if you want good reasonably priced fare. The captain if you’re prepared to spend some bucks. They’ve likely been there many times before if they are senior enough to hold a Rome trip in the summer.
CycloRista
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by CycloRista »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:52 am Be sure to take very comfortable shoes. Be prepared to walk at least five miles every day and, if needed, get in physical shape to do so now.
Good point... my wife and I easily walked 15 miles per day which had the added benefit of burning extra calories before eating more delicious food, washed down with excellent local wines.
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BillWalters
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by BillWalters »

Wow, fantastic info. Thank you all.

After some additional deliberation we are adding a Naples day trip from Rome and a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence.

It seems Airbnb’s are a good option throughout Italy, I’m torn whether to use Marriott points for luxury hotels or stay in Airbnb’s.
hunoraut
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by hunoraut »

I think the original spirit of AirBNB was homestays and alternative lodging, but now it's really about taking away local housing stock in urban centers to profit off tourists in hastily-furnished Ikea apartments...

...so there's a bit of an ethical question there.

Traveling with a family it is very convenient though (given rarity of large hotel suites, apartment rentals, etc). But in Italy, if you have multi-night stays, the agriturismo are a really nice experience
Workaholic
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Workaholic »

Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:26 pm
hunoraut wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:12 am
Outer Marker wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:06 am For restaurants, go to a swank bar and chat up some of the locals. “What’s your favorite place for ... If you’re not shy, it’s fun, and I’ve found some of my best meals that way include some far off the beaten track that would never appear in a guides.
This works if you assume doing the same thing in your local swank bar would produce reliable results for your own city...
Definitely! People take pride in showcasing their home town. And, it’s a good conversation starter. If you go to Rome, stay at the Hilton and eat at the big restaurant filled with other Americans with Fromers guides on the table, you might as well not have left the US. I remember an incredible meal I found this way in Sardinia. Basically a farmer’s house, open only one night a week on Saturday. A feast put on for guests with everything grown on the farm.

Another good source is your flight crew. Ask the flight attendants if you want good reasonably priced fare. The captain if you’re prepared to spend some bucks. They’ve likely been there many times before if they are senior enough to hold a Rome trip in the summer.
I agree that it's best to find local, authentic restaurants but I disagree with the bit about not staying in a chain hotel. Staying with a well-known brand such as a Hyatt or a luxury chain like Four Seasons gives you a standardized level of quality. I find it important when traveling to have a piece of familiarity in an unfamiliar situation. Plus I have status at many chain hotels that give perks such as free breakfast, room upgrades, etc that can really add to the overall travel experience. Not to mention many of the luxury chains have very convenient locations in the best parts of the city to call your home-base during a trip.
7eight9
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by 7eight9 »

As several posters have mentioned - Rick Steves (https://www.ricksteves.com/) is likely a good resource.

I recommended Rick Steves to one of my colleagues years ago (no personal experience as I go to the Far East on vacation versus Europe). She went to Italy once using his recommendations and twice on his tours. She was very pleased with all of her trips. I've always enjoyed watching his shows on television and believe he has something good to offer.
I guess it all could be much worse. | They could be warming up my hearse.
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