Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

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

Post by otinkyad »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:38 pm After some additional deliberation we are adding a Naples day trip from Rome and a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence.
That seems like sketchy deliberation. For Naples, it’s at least two hours on the train each way, so closer to six hours of round-trip travel. What are you planning to see in Naples? Pompeii and Ercolano are the highlights, IMHO, and we did separate day trips for each from Sorrento (an hour away by the slower metro trains). They’re both brutally hot in the summer. The kids would be absolutely miserable on such a long day. Ours were 9 and 12 that year. The Archeological Museum in Naples pairs nicely with the sites, but we visited that on a third day. Personally, Naples itself is one of the worst places I’ve ever been, though the pizza we had at a place we were unhappy to enter and uncomfortable being in was the best we’ve ever had.
coynerone
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by coynerone »

I highly recommend looking at
monasteries.com
for family lodging in Italy. They are inexpensive, safe, clean, usually have continental breakfast and are everywhere. I stayed twice in Venezia and it was a delight.Way better than a hotel.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by ResearchMed »

coynerone wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:31 pm I highly recommend looking at
monasteries.com
for family lodging in Italy. They are inexpensive, safe, clean, usually have continental breakfast and are everywhere. I stayed twice in Venezia and it was a delight.Way better than a hotel.
Wow. Thanks for this suggestion!

This could be very interesting, beyond any cost savings.

RM
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kiwi123
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by kiwi123 »

There's so much to see in any area that I would avoid "full day" additional trips. As I've spent more time in Europe I've learned that doing less is better for me even though its tempting to add more and more cool extra stuff. Your original plan of Rome/Venice/Florence and Tuscany looked good, and having a car in Tuscany is worth it as the smaller towns in the area lend themselves to driving 30-60 minutes.

For accommodations, also look at something with a pool in the Tuscany area (especially with kids). There's a lot of "agri-tourismo" (aka farm stay) options outside of the main cities but they get booked quick for peak times. They should pop up on TripAdvisor, AirBnB, etc. Often they're on working vineyards, olive groves, etc. and a great way to unwind in the countryside while also giving kids a swimming pool to knock themselves out in :-) If you like to cook, a decent kitchen would be nice. Every town has frequent farmers markets and the quality of produce is amazing. Prosciutto, melon, fresh pasta and sauce takes a few minutes to throw together for dinner and tastes amazing. Also booking a cooking lesson could be a fun family activity.

For museum visits book through a company that provides 'private' or group tours - lets you cut the lines which could be several hours long. Also some have arrangements to get in before the public which lets you avoid a lot of the crowd madness.

Florence gelato was great, but my favorite was in San Gimignano - Gelateria Dondoli. There's another gelato place in the same square that says they're the "worlds best", and is always busier, but that's because they struck a deal with the tourist buses.
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BillWalters
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by BillWalters »

otinkyad wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:23 pm
BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:38 pm After some additional deliberation we are adding a Naples day trip from Rome and a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence.
That seems like sketchy deliberation. For Naples, it’s at least two hours on the train each way, so closer to six hours of round-trip travel. What are you planning to see in Naples? Pompeii and Ercolano are the highlights, IMHO, and we did separate day trips for each from Sorrento (an hour away by the slower metro trains). They’re both brutally hot in the summer. The kids would be absolutely miserable on such a long day. Ours were 9 and 12 that year. The Archeological Museum in Naples pairs nicely with the sites, but we visited that on a third day. Personally, Naples itself is one of the worst places I’ve ever been, though the pizza we had at a place we were unhappy to enter and uncomfortable being in was the best we’ve ever had.
Italiarail website says the train from Rome to Naples is 1 hour 10 minutes. We live in the south, we are used to heat.
NJdad6
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by NJdad6 »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:30 pm
otinkyad wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:23 pm
BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:38 pm After some additional deliberation we are adding a Naples day trip from Rome and a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence.
That seems like sketchy deliberation. For Naples, it’s at least two hours on the train each way, so closer to six hours of round-trip travel. What are you planning to see in Naples? Pompeii and Ercolano are the highlights, IMHO, and we did separate day trips for each from Sorrento (an hour away by the slower metro trains). They’re both brutally hot in the summer. The kids would be absolutely miserable on such a long day. Ours were 9 and 12 that year. The Archeological Museum in Naples pairs nicely with the sites, but we visited that on a third day. Personally, Naples itself is one of the worst places I’ve ever been, though the pizza we had at a place we were unhappy to enter and uncomfortable being in was the best we’ve ever had.
Italiarail website says the train from Rome to Naples is 1 hour 10 minutes. We live in the south, we are used to heat.
That sounds about right. It is another 20 minutes or so by car to Pompeii. It is hot and sunny but not bad if you are prepared. The tour we took was perfect. About 2 hours at Pompeii. You see a lot and get a feel of what it was like (very well preserved). Naples around the train station is not very scenic. During the drive you get beautiful views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius.
deserat
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by deserat »

otinkyad wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:23 pm
BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:38 pm After some additional deliberation we are adding a Naples day trip from Rome and a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence.
That seems like sketchy deliberation. For Naples, it’s at least two hours on the train each way, so closer to six hours of round-trip travel. What are you planning to see in Naples? Pompeii and Ercolano are the highlights, IMHO, and we did separate day trips for each from Sorrento (an hour away by the slower metro trains). They’re both brutally hot in the summer. The kids would be absolutely miserable on such a long day. Ours were 9 and 12 that year. The Archeological Museum in Naples pairs nicely with the sites, but we visited that on a third day. Personally, Naples itself is one of the worst places I’ve ever been, though the pizza we had at a place we were unhappy to enter and uncomfortable being in was the best we’ve ever had.
Omg-were you with me on my trip???? Lmao-you are spot on...actually I *really* liked the Archaeological museum in Naples as that is where all of the stuff they found in Pompeii and Ercolano was placed...but that museum was not easy to find. Coolest part of the museum was the financial records they found that had covered many decades...they were able to see the comparable costs of items as well as determine that trading with external regions was over a larger area than they originally thought. Moreover, they were able to determine what they bought, are, valued, etc. These 'books' had been burned but they used some technology to be able to see the writing on the material.

I call Naples "nasty Naples". They had a garbage man strike when we were there...nuff said. Even the Italians have a lower opinion of Naples, except for the Neopolitans (natives).

In any case, Pompeii is still a memorable place to visit....add the museum and you've covered it. Now the Amalfi Coast just south of there with Capri and Sorrento, that's a different story-beautiful but even more crowded in the summer.
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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 »

Lots of interesting posts.
If so inclined you can do a day trip to Pompeii by bus. The tour we took was worth while and leaves from the Piazza del Popolo.
I've been to Sienna a couple times and it is indeed worthwhile. Pisa, as I mentioned, is an easier day trip.

You said you booked your flights, so this may not work. Flying into Rome and out of Venice as we did, cost very little more than a Rome round trip. The advantage was that we saved a return trip to Rome from Venice, a possible night in Rome upon returning from Venice, and the hassle of getting to the Rome airport.
deserat
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by deserat »

coynerone wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:31 pm I highly recommend looking at
monasteries.com
for family lodging in Italy. They are inexpensive, safe, clean, usually have continental breakfast and are everywhere. I stayed twice in Venezia and it was a delight.Way better than a hotel.
Thanks for that too. I've stayed in a few convents in my travels ( usually found through different booking sites) and really enjoyed it. They were 'monastic' but very affordable, quiet and interesting. Moreover, they usually are in decent locations or easy to get to. I stayed at one in Siena, Tallin, Vilnius, and Alsace. All were comfortable, frugal, clean and quiet.
Pacific
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Pacific »

If this is really a serious post, see this:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/italy-did ... went-wrong
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BillWalters
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by BillWalters »

I’m not a complete moron unaware that there is a pandemic. The airfare was purchased with refundable points and I’ll likely use refundable points or cancelable Airbnbs for hotels. Thanks to those providing advice; the virus stuff isn’t helpful.
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CyclingDuo
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by CyclingDuo »

BillWalters wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:05 pmI’m not a complete moron unaware that there is a pandemic. The airfare was purchased with refundable points and I’ll likely use refundable points or cancelable Airbnbs for hotels. Thanks to those providing advice; the virus stuff isn’t helpful.
Rome is going to more fun for your kids than some areas as there are things to see and do for them. My suggestion would be to venture out of the large cities as the cities are where all the tourists are. Out in the smaller towns and villages is where you can really relax, see the culture, eat the authentic food and what we call "really see and experience Italy". We're cyclists, so most of our trips to Italy usually include riding the roads for part of the time as well.

I would second the recommendation - at least in Tuscany - to rent a car to get around the region (it's really fun driving,
although you will be the slowpoke driver on the road). Great food, wine, culture, hills, smells, sights, etc... . If you can, take the kids to Siena to see where the horses race and enjoy that city's layout and history.

The language exists because of the culture and the culture exists because of the language - so you'll want to flow with that. In my opinion, too many tourists try to do too much in too limited amount of time. They treat it like a checklist such as, well we saw Rome, Venice, Naples, Florence, Milan - now we can go. That's why I advocate for slowing down and spending more time within a smaller area of travel and really dive in - such as Tuscany.

That being said, we lived in Europe for over a decade so sort of developed our own way of diving into each country and region.

Plenty of videos all over the internet, write ups about what to do which you can study over the next few months to formulate some ideas.

CyclingDuo
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jajlrajrf
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by jajlrajrf »

Hi. I'm a frequent traveler to Italy, have family there, and speak the language. I have opinions!

At a high level the advice I want to give you is: you're trying to do too much in 2 weeks. Italy is an embarrassment of riches for the tourist; you can be almost anywhere from the heel of the boot to the far north of the country and find enough to do to keep you busy for a week. In addition, lots of the enjoyment of being there is to enjoy the dolce far niente and relax - you can't do that if you're constantly loading your luggage onto and off of trains, planes, and automobiles!

If I were you, I'd pick no more than two major locations (e.g., Rome and Firenze, Rome and Venice, etc) and make those your bases. Either of those hubs would easily give you a week's (or a month's) worth of things to do, eat, and see, and you'll get a much deeper appreciation for the country by doing so. If your base is in Tuscany, driving is feasible (I would not try to drive anywhere near the center of either Rome or Firenze, but driving through the Tuscan country side is both enjoyable and feasible - stay at an airBNB outside of town, drive to various hill towns, and enjoy.)

I second the comment of whoever said "spring for the frecciarosa business class trains", if you're taking trains. They're really nice (and surprisingly affordable).

Napoli (and environs) is an amazing place with incredible historical sites but I think it's a real stretch to consider that a day trip from Rome. One good train strike (the major trains won't strike, but the circumvesuviana local you'd need to get to Pompeii strikes frequently) and you're screwed. Again, if going to Pompeii was important to me, I'd make my agenda "Rome (1 week) and Napoli (1 week)" and stay there for a longer period of time. Napoli probably requires a higher degree of attention from a tourist than do Rome, Florence, or Venice, so don't try to cut corners / save money there - 5 star hotels all the way. If you made Napoli your base, you could do Pompeii and Herculanum, as well as the island of Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi coast towns like Amalfi and Positano. Any of those is a reasonable day trip from Napoli, but I wouldn't try to day trip them from Rome.
Outer Marker
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Outer Marker »

Workaholic wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:55 pm . . . 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.
I agree that big U.S. hotels have a place even for seasoned travelers. When I have to go to interior China, I'd rather stay in Sheraton Kunming, or the Marriott in Chongqing than an unknown local place. Those cities can be hell holes and its nice to have the familiarity of a big American chain. But, I'm not too worried about my basic need for comfort if I am spending a week on the Amalfi Coast, and I'd rather be in a small hotel or Air B&B. Rome is pretty civilized. I don't think you'd go too far wrong with any highly rated place on tripadvisor. Admittedly, my Bonvoy status and points compelled me to stay at the Westin for free when I visited Malta last year. That's what loyalty programs are designed to do -- take the provider's hotel, flight, etc. over what you might find preferable on your own. That said, the Westin was very nice and I enjoyed the free breakfast and happy hour drinks and apps in the club lounge.
diabelli
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by diabelli »

We did Rome -->Amalfi (Praino/Positano)-->Florence. You can take a day trip from Florence to Venice if you really want to because I think it may be less deserving of a longer stay (and Amalfi coast is different enough from the rest to really break up the experience and make it variable)
Workaholic
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Workaholic »

Outer Marker wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:27 am
Workaholic wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:55 pm . . . 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.
I agree that big U.S. hotels have a place even for seasoned travelers. When I have to go to interior China, I'd rather stay in Sheraton Kunming, or the Marriott in Chongqing than an unknown local place. Those cities can be hell holes and its nice to have the familiarity of a big American chain. But, I'm not too worried about my basic need for comfort if I am spending a week on the Amalfi Coast, and I'd rather be in a small hotel or Air B&B. Rome is pretty civilized. I don't think you'd go too far wrong with any highly rated place on tripadvisor. Admittedly, my Bonvoy status and points compelled me to stay at the Westin for free when I visited Malta last year. That's what loyalty programs are designed to do -- take the provider's hotel, flight, etc. over what you might find preferable on your own. That said, the Westin was very nice and I enjoyed the free breakfast and happy hour drinks and apps in the club lounge.
Oh I agree about going to places like the Amalfi Coast or very high-end tourist areas that local hotels will probably be equal to their chain counterparts in terms of quality. And you're right, status and points definitely can have an influence on picking hotels to stay at but that's not always a bad thing. It's nice to be in a new city and be recognized at a hotel for having status and being given an upgrade/free drinks/personalized service.
mtwhmemn
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by mtwhmemn »

Italy was fantastic. If you get to go it'll be a lot of fun. It was one of the best food experiences of all our travels surprisingly. I had no expectations and was blown away at the high quality and variety of Italian food. We started in Rome and I agree with others do what you plan to do and then get out of Rome. I found it like so many other big cities with a lot of graffiti and dirty. The vatican was amazing as were so many other architectural wonders but it is a big, noisy city, etc.... We trained to Florence and Venice which were both beautiful and very enjoyable for their unique attractions. As I said the food all over was really good. In Florence we walked everywhere, same as Venice. Stay away from https://g.page/laloggiapiazzalemichelangelo?share in Florence it was awful. Reheated frozen pizza but great area with a beautiful view.
Nearly A Moose
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Re: Help me plan a family trip to Italy - Two Weeks

Post by Nearly A Moose »

Just in case someone hasn’t suggested getting a Rick Steves travel guide, I’d encourage you to get a Rick Steves travel guide.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.
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