April 9, 2014, 03:21 PM
Help narrow down our itinerary/cities....
We will be traveling to Tuscany this summer. Having a hard time narrowing down the list of places to visit. We are staying at an agriturismo in the chianti region within the triangle made of the points of Florence, Pisa and Siena.
How in the world can we possibly narrow it down??? Bare in mind that we have 3 school age children so we have to tread lightly when schlepping them around and also navigating really busy cities. On our radar at this point we have: Florence, Siena, Lucca, Volterra, Pienza, Montelpuciano, etc. Open for any and all suggestions...
April 9, 2014, 05:07 PM
I believe when traveling with children, your best motto is flexibility.
Will you have a whole week? Then plan to alternate days where you stay at the agriturismo and do local things (like wine tasting or tour of a winery just down the road or just staying at the farmhouse by the pool, letting them play around) with days when you go further afield.
You won't be able to do everything, accept that from the start. Every day just start out the day deciding which way/direction to head to. All of the cities can be fun for kids as well - if you make the history and architecture of the towns fun to discover. Do they love castles? Head to Monteriggioni! Armor, swords, knightly gear? The Stibbert Museum in Florence is a favorite for boys. Are they fascinated with the Leaning Tower of Pisa that doesn't just tip over and fall down? If they're 8 or older, they can climb to the top! (up to 12 years old you have to hold their hand, though but it is a great experience for everyone, adults alike).
All of the towns have parks with playgrounds, so plan on taking it slowly, take breaks and let them run around in the piazzas where generally cars are not allowed, they will be safe. You will be happier to travel around and see what you can, even if you won't be able to spend too much time indoors in museums - but in Florence, do head to the Palazzo Vecchio bookstore and grab some of the books they offer especially for kids that make visiting the city fun (as in the form of scavenger hunts where they have to find clues in every place you visit! ;-))
April 10, 2014, 03:55 PM
Thank you, Lourdes! Great tips.
Yes, we have a week. Arriving Saturday morning and leaving the following Sunday. We are planning on taking the train to Venice one day. I do think they will be so enchanted with Venice being that there's no other city like it with all the waterways. That's a priority on our itinerary. The rest is wide open. I do think a castle is a great idea! Do you think Florence is too crowded to navigate around with 3 children (ages 6, 8 and 9) The rest of the day trips will be closer to the agriturismo.
April 10, 2014, 04:11 PM
The fastest trains will take you from Florence SMN to Venice S. Lucia in 2 hours and 5 minutes (others will take closer to 3 hours). You first have to get to Florence. The earliest, fastest train is at 8:30am. Check all the timetables on www.trenitalia.com.
Venice is quite crowded in the summer and, in August, it can be quite warm and humid.
Personally, I wouldn't go but I understand you believing it is a must if you've never been. With the right conditions, it is beautiful and romantic.... but with heat and crowds, I don't believe you'll see Venice at its best.... which is early and late evenings, when most of the tourists have left. Oh, it has also gotten very expensive.
If you believe you will all love Venice nonetheless, I say go but also recommend on sleeping there that one night so that you are not in a hurry throughout the day. You'll have time to to wander and enjoy the city and lagoon. Want to visit at least 1 museum? I suggest the Doge's Palace!
Think of it this way: wake up early enough to drive and park to be in Florence by at least 8am to catch the train, get into Venice at 10:35am, walk around and sightsee, have lunch, spend the afternoon in the Doge's Palace and then head back to the train. Hopefully you won't feel too hurried overall - you will be tired, it will be a long day!
Speaking of castles - another great one is the Castle in Poppi in the Casentino to the east of Florence and Chianti, maybe you can add that as an option in the list
April 10, 2014, 04:23 PM
I'm torn. People say 'don't go' while other people say 'you have to see Venice!'. I know it's going to be hot and crowded but I think about not having this opportunity again for a long time. Do you have a link you could provide me with the train schedule to and from Venice (from Florence). We are renting a car for the week so we'll have transportation to the train station from our agriturismo.
Also, should we decide to stay in Venice can you rec nice yet affordable lodging?
April 10, 2014, 05:27 PM
The link in my post above is for the train schedules - I can't link to searches as they don't show up, has to do with how that site is set up! But click on the English link at the top right and you'll be able to do the search quite easily... just wait as you type the destination for the suggestion to pop up, as the names of the stations have to be written exactly as they want them. From Florence, it is Santa Maria Novella train station and for Venice you want Santa Lucia which gets you all the way in onto the main island.
Not sure what can be considered affordable in Venice as it can be expensive.... but if you take a look at
--> this link here
you might find the cheapest are not on the main island but on Lido or the other islands or off the lagoon and on the mainland, in Mestre. You could also consider that if it is late, rather than make your way back all the way to Florence, you could take the train to Padua (Padova in Italian) and spend the night there, definitely more affordable... that would give you a chance to see a little of it in the morning before heading back down!
I loved Venice and highly recommend it, just not at that period. But I understand thinking you won't be back soon.... on the other hand, you will enjoy it better if you do return at the right time, with the right company (how about a second honeymoon down the road, no kids in tow? ;-) )