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Mission Impossible

My parents have generously given us a trip to Europe to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I need to choose a home base. There will be 9 adults and 4 children ranging from 8-15. The idea is that we stay in a central location that everyone can go explore on day trips? Venice seems to be the only destination that everyone wants to visit. Thinking of June or July travel. Home base needs to be near a location with a great market as one traveler has rare liver disease, so cruise is out.
Any suggestions are appreciated!

Posted by
906 posts

I don't see why this is such an impossible mission. If everyone want's to visit Venice, then stay near or in Venice. If you think staying in Venice proper is too expensive, the choose one of the nearby cities, like Vicenza, Padova, Verona or Bologna, just to name a few. All of them are likely to have a great market, have excellent sights and are well connected by train, so you can do day trips as you please.

Posted by
7706 posts

How long is this trip for (how many nights)?

Venice is a good base for say 3-5 nights. Longer than that you would want to be moving to a second base, say Florence.
You have a while continent to choose from, not just Italy.

Posted by
9580 posts

Chris asks a great question: how many nights? Price may not be an object but Venice is quite expensive and is its most pricey during the summer season. It will also be at its most crowded, although that can be managed if getting off the main tourist tramp.

Also, what sorts of things do people in your group want to see and do on this trip? What are their interests (history; active outdoor activities; art; architecture; scenery; etc.)? That's a big factor when choosing a location.

Can you explain further what defines a "great market"? I don't think you'll have any issues finding foods which fit the bill - Europeans generally eat healthier than Americans - but anything specific? Should we assume that accommodations with kitchen facilities are a must due to dietary restrictions?

Editing to add: do your parents (or anyone else in the group) have any mobility issues we should be aware of? Oh, and a welcome to the forums from me as well!

Posted by
21577 posts

Welcome to the Forums, Megan.

If you all want to be in Venice then I suggest that you all be in Venice.

I haven't seen how long, in nights, this whole trip will be, Megan. Please tell us.

A few day trips - if you have time for them - will be cheaper and easier to organise from Venice outbound in probably smaller groups - one bunch of 3 wants to go to the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova and a different bunch of 5 want to go to the "Romeo and Juliet Balcony" in Verona, and another bunch doesn't care about either of those but wants to see glass being blown and buy little glass horses in Murano, is so much easier than hoiking 13 folks onto the train every morning for Venice and back out again in the afternoon.

Doing the commute into and out of Venice each day also puts you plonk into all the day trippers so you never experience the special atmosphere at dawn (yup, dawn) riding silently down the Grand Canal and seeing the city wake up, or walking to the tip of Dorsoduro and looking across the lagoon into the sunrise, or riding the Grand Canal after sunset and seeing the chandeliers of Murano glass streaming out from the grand ballrooms and dining rooms of the big houses, and seeing their reflections in the water.

Also getting all those people into and out of Venice will more than eat up any small saving from staying remotely.

If you leave Venice for a day trip you will be going opposite to the rush; if you trip into Venice you will be in the throngs.

Quietly walking the canals and over the bridges and finding the special view away from the throngs is the magic of Venice.

Finding where Commissario Guido Brunetti investigated cases, or lived or worked or had his pastry and coffee is so much fun. (Hint - Tonolo, near the Frari)

Posted by
322 posts

What a great and generous gift to your whole family your parents have given all of you!

Keeping in mind that everyone says they want to visit Venice, you could use Verona as a home base. From Verona you could daytrip to Venice, Vicenza, Padua, Mantua or Sirmione/Lake Garda. All are beautiful destinations. Or possibly stay two or three nights in Venice and then head elsewhere that can be your base. Florence, Siena, Arezzo, Rome? Is it a first visit to Europe for many in your group? Have you been to the major sites? Are you more interested in the popular tourist sites or smaller less crowded places?

What other countries are on your radar? I would like to suggest Spain. If you were to use Madrid as your base there are many great daytrips from there that your kids would love that include castles, palaces, aqueducts, walled cities, medeval barrios and beautiful cathedrals. Possible daytrips include Toledo, Segovia, Ávila, Alcala de Henares, El Escorial, La Granja de San Idelfonso and more. Bus and train service in Spain is very good if you rely on public transportation.

How many days will you have for the trip? That is also a very important factor when picking a destination or destinations. I think you all need to first decide on a country/countries. Any country you pick is open to wonderful possibilities. Once you commit to an area you will find that everything else will then fall into place. The hard part is making that choice.

Your possibilities are endless. Good luck. Let us know what you decide.

Posted by
11034 posts

I think Venice is a little work to get in and out of. I'd suggest Bologna. Known for it's food and people can take a day trip to Venice, Verona, Pisa, Florence, San Marino, etc. in roughly a two-hour drive. Hopefully you can find a fairly large home with a private swimming pool and parking for the family.

Posted by
150 posts

In Venice, we stayed at a great apartment on Giudecca (across the lagoon). Search Airbnb for Stella Marina. They have at least 3 apartments all next to each other. Ours was #3 and had downstairs: king bed, master bath, living room, kitchen, dining area, washer. Upstairs: double bed in a lift area, bedroom with 2 twin beds, full bath. A/C throughout - very important in June/July! It was hot and humid when we were there in June. Easy walk from the vaporetto - only 1 bridge to cross. Easy vaporetto ride from P. Roma. 15 minutes to San Marco. Very quiet neighborhood away from the crowds, and many shops (including Coop grocery) nearby. Less than $200/nt in June. We loved it, and being away from the crowds was wonderful.

You could day trip to the Lido area for beaches. Lots of options within a couple hours by train, just keep in mind that travel around Venice requires a vaporetto pass (60€ per adult for 7 day card). Also, getting to the train station/airport may take some time depending on where you stay.

Posted by
3 posts

I am so impressed by all of the thoughtful and intelligent suggestions. This is a great site. We decided on a cruise for the younger and older travelers. Then all of us will meet in Rome. We are going to have private tours of the best sights. Then my family of 4 will fly to Amsterdam for 3 days. If you have any suggestions as where to stay and what to see in Amsterdam for 3 days with 2 kids under the age of 10, please let me know. Very grateful for previous discussions!

Posted by
12868 posts

I haven't been to Amsterdam recently and am definitely not up on the details, but I know I've read on this forum about sights that need to be pre-booked because they sell out. I'm thinking it's the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, but I could be mistaken.

I suggest starting a thread in the Netherlands forum to ask about this. You can check at the same time for specific age-suitable ideas.

I remember enjoying the canal-boat ride, and I thought the Resistance Museum was very interesting. The latter wouldn't interest young children, though.

Posted by
364 posts

You might get more specific suggestions from the Netherlands forum, but my children enjoyed renting a pedal boat in a canal, touring the zoo, and trading Magic: the Gathering cards with Dutch children at a shop where the cards are sold.

Posted by
2572 posts

Venice is wonderful, but in my opinion, using it as a base for day trips is not the best.

1) Venice is very expensive
2) The logistics of getting to the train station require some form of water travel (unless you book a hotel near the main train station).
Schlepping luggage on the water boats is a pain.
3) The places to visit in N. Italy are not very close to Venice. Ravenna is one of our favorite places. Verona is good and Trieste is OK.
4) I love Florence, which doesn't have expensive hotel prices and it is easy to do day trips from that city. You can even do a day trip to Venice. Not sure that I would do that (consider spending two nights in Venice, then there rest of the time in Florence). You can do day trips to Siena, Pisa, Lucca, perhaps Orvieto and Umbria.

Posted by
2344 posts

Venice in the summer? Do you realize that AC is sparce? Daytrips could also be a bit cumbersome. Mostly, I think the traveler who suffers from a rare liver disease should be the one doing the most research as your base probably affects him or her the most.

Posted by
129 posts

If Rome, then maybe check into an easy day trip to Ninfa Gardens, near Latina. One must book ahead for the obligatory tour, not just show up as elsewhere. Bonne chance.
I am done. The end.