1 week in Italy with kids

We are spending a week in France with our 2 10 year old boys and then heading to Italy for approx 1 week. For Italy we are thinking night train from Paris to Venice>2 days Venice>high speed train to Florence>2 days Florence (includes side trip to Pisa)>high speed train to Rome>3 days Rome (including day trip to Pompeii). One of my sons really wants to make sure that we go to all of these places but his top priority is Venice. My husband and I have Rome as our priority since we have been to Italy but didn't make it to Rome. The kids have studied a lot of ancient history and some Renaissance history and art. Does this itinerary sound too rushed? It includes all cities and not much down time or small town time. I would appreciate any tips or suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6472 posts

Have you done any specific research into the night train? Almost uniformly I've heard that they're a bad idea, but we'll see if someone else weighs in with more specific information.

Posted by karen
Newman Lake, wa
15 posts

My husband and I rode that night train 15 years ago and I know someone who rode it recently. Not especially comfortable but okay. It was fun arriving it Venice at 7am and hopping on the bus/boat. I looked at easyjet and we could get a flight from Orly to Venice for $42 per person. Maybe that would be smarter. We are also taking EasyJet (not booked yet) from Rome to Amsterdam since we fly out of Amsterdam back to U.S.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4012 posts

Karen, first of all I'm impressed that your son wants to see Venice! Both of them will love this trip! Make sure that they keep some kind of journal of their trip - a souvenir they'll have the rest of their lives. Now, I'm just going to suggest that you look into Florence > PISA > Rome...I've done this (in reverse) because it fit our schedule better than a separate day trip from Florence; it may or may not work for you. Check both bahn.com and trenitalia.com for schedules and prices. I'm going to guess you want to see the Leaning Tower only? Perhaps the Baptistry if you can get in (very busy/crowded)? Then leave from Florence early, stop off at Pisa, take a taxi/bus to the Tower (or walk - some report a 15-20 min walk - there used to be, may still be, a map outside the station to the Tower), reverse the taxi/bus/walk back to the train station, then continue on to Rome. The last info I have is that there is a left luggage service at Pisa Centrale.........Here's a cute video: http://wanderingitaly.com/video/pisa-piazza-dei-miracoli.htm......Just a thought............My only concern about the night train is that only a very few people report getting much sleep on them (myself NOT included, and I love them except for the snoring that comes from the bottom bunk...). The last one I took ended in Venice, and I was an exhausted wreck that first day - no hotel room ready to check into, but they did hold our luggage. You have so few days as it is; I'd hate for you all to be exhausted and dragging around La Bella Serenissima 8-( That can really color your perception of a place (and in a BAD way)........Have a great time!

Posted by Craig
Wynnewood, PA, USA
102 posts

Too rushed for one week (IMO). Two days in Florence is a good start - but also heading over to Pisa will dilute your experience. Perhaps, two cities and side trips will give you more time seeing the sites and not sitting on trains, etc. Florence (with Tuscany) might go well with Venice. Or, eliminate Florence and divide your time between Venice and Roma. Ciao.

Posted by Lourdes from DiscoverTuscan...
Florence, Italy
42 posts

I second Eileen's suggestion of taking the train to Pisa and then from there on down to Rome. You might not spend that much time in Florence overall but I understand the beauty and wonder of seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa at 10 years old after you've studied it in school and seen it in books. Plan just half a day in Pisa, so leave Florence in the morning and in the afternoon after a good lunch continue on to Rome. I'd definitely look into that Easy Jet from Orly to Venice at $42 per person (almost sounds cheaper than the train, you were looking into getting a couchette right?) because in my own experience, taking an overnight train from Italy to France with my sister was very tiring. We hardly got any sleep and arrived really tired in Paris, it was hard to enjoy anything we saw on that first day.

Posted by Joann
Dartmouth, MA, USA
136 posts

Hi Karen, The trip sounds a little too rushed to me for travelling with Kids. We took our then 10 y/o girls to Italy last year. Their absolute favorites were Rome, Venice & the leaning tower at Pisa (we must have 100 pictures of just that!) We also went to Tuscany & Cinque Terre for some down time and a day trip to Florence which definately was not enough time for that city. We were in Italy for 2 weeks, staying 3 nights each in Rome, CT & Venice and 5 in Tuscany. The only change I would make is to make it 3 in Tuscany and 2 in Florence. But I also do not like to feel rushed when I'm on vacation, so seldom stay less than 2 or 3 nights in any one place no matter where I am. Sounds like a great trip though. I'm sure the boys will love it. Rome & Venice are absolutely amazing, especially for kids that age.

Posted by Lexma
568 posts

I would say that's too rushed. We took our 10yo daughter to Italy last year, and spent 3 nights in each of those places, plus about a week in the countryside of Le Marche. I thought 3 nights was a little too short, though we saw most of the "must-sees" that she wanted to see (husband and I had already been to all of the cities). Especially if you plan on a day trip to Pompeii, grit your teeth, remind yourselves that you WILL RETURN, and cut something out. With 2 days in most locations, when you include travel time, that really means only 1 1/2 days in each place. As you mention Venice and Rome in particular, then maybe you should drop Florence and Pisa, and add those days/nights to Venice and Rome. My daughter said right after the trip, and still says, that she liked everything, but the two cities she mentioned wanting to return to the most are Venice and Rome. Given that you only have one week, I think it's ok to not have time in small towns (even though I prefer trips that include time in the cities and the country). Venice doesn't feel so much like a big city, because there's no car traffic, and as a result, is much quieter and not so frantic, as a "regular" city.

Posted by Kerry
Tinton Falls, NJ
641 posts

I'd also drop Florence, unless your kids are really into art museums; I think Rome and Venice would be much more interesting for children. I think you'd all be much less stressed and tired. From Rome you could do a day trip to Orvieto. From Venice, you could go to Lido (the beach for a day). We are visiting Italy next summer for 3 weeks with our kids (8 and 13) and we are taking it really slow (the way we like to travel) Rome 5 nights, Positano 7, Vernazza 3, Venice 8. No Florence. We hope to get to the leaning tower as a 1/2 day trip from Vernazza. I think too much rushing around is fine for college kids and twenty somethings unemcumbered by kids, but beyond that I think seeing less is more!

Posted by Anthony
362 posts

I like it, but I think you could cut out Pisa. And I think walking around/exploring Florence for 2 days with 10 year olds is perfect - there is a ton they can do. We did the overnight from Paris to Florence a few years ago - make sure if possible that you have a carpartment with only 4 beds if you want some privacy. My kids loved that trip.

Posted by karen
Newman Lake, wa
15 posts

Thanks everyone for all of the suggestions. We booked to fly into Venice from Paris and then we are flying out of Rome at the end of the trip. I think that we are just going to see how everyone is feeling at the time regarding Florence and/or Pisa. If we are energetic we may do it.

Posted by elaine
washington, dc
119 posts

One way to see a lot and get to pisa is to take a day tour from florence to sienna (duomo tour inside), san girmagno (sp?) lunch at winery/farm, then pisa. We have kids 9 and 13. It was one of the best days of our trip. The kids loved it. Just the right amount of time for them in each place. The lunch was great and fun. They run the horse at the Palio (sp?) in Sienna, so the tour talks about this, and you see a video on the bus. At San Girmagno, you can climb up the toro (towers), a favorite things for my kisd to do. I booked the tour via viator.com[INVALID]-kids under 12 are free! They use Best of Tuscany as the tour operator. Everyone on the tour was a "DIY Europe" person, who recognized the benefit of using a day tour to get to these areas. Elaine

Posted by sarah
Reading, England
6 posts

We just did a week Venice[INVALID]>Florence[INVALID]>Pisa with friends and our two babies (6 and 8 months).

A great way to get from Florence to Rome would be to have a lunch stopover at Pisa.

Mid-morning train Florence[INVALID]>Pisa. Check bags at Pisa station, taxi to tower where you eat a picnic lunch, have a look around the tower complex, then taxi back to the station and catch your train to Rome.

We did something similar, but caught a flight home to London from the Pisa airport. Wish we had done the picnic, as the food choices in Pisa were the most dismal of anywhere we have been in Italy. You can pack a picnic the day before, or in the morning before you leave Florence, where you're sure to be able to find a good grocery easily.