September 17, 2013, 02:44 AM
Tuscany with a baby in Nov-Dec
We are planning a trip to Italy in November-December this year with our 9 month old baby. It's my first trip to Italy, but with the baby we want to take a very relaxed approach as we are likely to need extra time to do baby things (feeding, naps, early nights).
I am overwhelmed by the options in Tuscany and would like some suggestions to help narrow things down.
Our first week will be in the Amalfi Coast, relaxing and recovering from the flight from Australia (I realise it's not swim weather...).
Our last week will be in Rome.
In between, we have roughly 12 days for Tuscany (~24th Nov til 5th Dec).
I'd like to split this time between 2 destinations - Florence and one other, preferably a rural location. I want to avoid packing up and changing hotels more than that.
I really didn't want to hire a car because of the hassle of arranging a baby car seat, and also I've never driven on the right side of the road! So suggestion for second location would be either one accessible by public transport, or one where the driving would be really easy (and where to hire and drop off the car?).
We're keen to get out and about, but only likely to see 1-2 things a day so the baby doesn't get overtired. We don't mind and actually love walking (have a baby carrier as well as a stroller). Don't want to see "everything" but a selection of highlights.
Accommodation needs to have our own kitchen as the baby goes to bed around 7pm so we're likely to cook dinner at home. Budget up to ~150 euro/night. Needs to have a baby cot.
Would love your opinions to help narrow down my search!!!
Many thanks in advance
September 30, 2013, 04:42 PM
With a 9 month old along, I completely agree with all of the concepts you have already decided make sense: more time to take things in, giving time for feedings and planning around naps, early nights. You'll basically have the time to work around her schedule, likely by then she'll have some type of schedule and you can work around with it. For example, when we started going out in Tuscany with our 8 month old, she more or less had specific times for feedings so we tried to get those in, driving in between she'd often take her naps. By 10 months old, we worked time in the car in when we knew it was nap time, so she'd arrive fresh and happy at our destinations.
Since you want to avoid the car altogether, the stroller + baby carrier are definitely the way to go! We love babywearing! Mine got used to it from the very start, so when we are out and about, she never makes a fuss about other people being too close or near, even in crowds, because she's right there close to me and feels safe. Even at 12 months, we do use the stroller more since she's heavier but there is only so much time she will tolerate it. We end up switching between the stroller and baby carrier (I prefer a mei tai while DH has a Boba3G that he really likes). That in itself should be a big help when you're on trains/buses or just out for a short walk.
LOCATION: So as far as bases, two would be ideal. Florence for sure, as you had already decided.... and the second I'd recommend in a small town along the train lines so that you only need to do a train ride to where you want to go:
- Castelfiorentino, Certaldo, Poggibonsi or Siena on the western side of Chianti OR
- Pontassieve, Rignano sull'Arno, Incisa in Val d'Arno, Figline Valdarno, Montevarchi or Arezzo on the eastern side of Chianti
Either would work out well, you wouldn't be out in the countryside because for that you do generally need to have your own means of transportation but these are small towns but my personal choice would be SIENA!
It has the feel of a small town, you can be out and about as much or not as you want and still be close to supermarkets, train station, even restaurants if you do choose to eat out one evening but just being close to also turn in when you want.
You can take the bus for some day trips, train for others and enjoy Siena in the evenings when lots of the tourists go away and the town feels quite small. You can also do a day on an organized tours from Siena to go to the Val d'Orcia, an area difficult to reach without your own means of transport.
PLACES TO SEE: From Florence, you can go to Pisa and Lucca, from Siena you can go to Colle Val d'Elsa, San Gimignano, Volterra, Arezzo and to the Val d'Orcia as suggested above with a tour group.
LODGING: The best lodging for your family will be an apartment so that you can have your own kitchen. Some residence will also offer them if they have the space (rooms or apartments).
Most offer baby cots, you just need to make sure to request it when you book.
In Florence, I'd suggest:
(to be right in the middle of everything) Palazzo Medicea or Casa Tornabuoni
Casa del Mercato
Apartment Porte Nuove
to still be in the historical center but a little to the side - all of these four are more toward the borders of the historical center, so a bit quieter.
In Siena, you can choose an apartment in the historical center or one closer to the train station so that you're actually closer to the countryside (double bonus) - take a look at these:
in the center of the city: Siena Soggiorno and B&B Piazza Duomo (separate building from the B&B with patio)
Borgo Grondaie (ideal because it is really close to the train station and with large gardens to give you that countryside experience)
Villa il Borghetto (this is to the south of the city but it has easy bus access to the center and then on to the train station and would give you that stay outside of the city, but admittedly would require more time to reach the train station and center of Siena)
Hope I've given you good ideas to start your search! feel free to post any other questions and I'll try to help!