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10 day itinerary with kids

Looking for suggestions or critiques on this 10 day itinerary for summer 2020 with my wife and kids ages 5 and 7. I posted before another potential itinerary a few weeks back, but took the advice of this forum and decided to leave Switzerland for another trip when kids are older.

For this trip, I am certain we want to see Venice, as a city with "rivers fro roads" intrigues my kids and was my favorite when we visited nearly 15 years ago. The other stops are interesting to me since Ive never been to lakes region or Tuscan countryside (have been to Florence though). We'd like to use the trains as much as possible and avoid driving...but i might consider it in Tuscany if you can convince me. I'm not too interested in Rome or Florence itself--too crowded and museum centric for our tastes. again, maybe when kids are older. For now I want to experience some new places, embrace natural beauty, and have the kids get a taste of a new culture. so here's what I'm thinking:

  1. Fly into Milan (arriving from USA after long trip), head Straight for lake Como region, staying in Varenna for 3 nights to explore the region and relax.
  2. train to Venice, stay for 3 nights (Already found an awesome airbnb apartment right on the canal with exceptional views)
  3. train to Florence/Tuscany for 3-4 nights. I would love to stay in Volterra, but may be difficult unless we rent a car. Given the distance of this region from the major airports, we would probably have to spend the last night in a hotel near Rome or Milan airport, unless anyone thinks its feasible to make it direct to airport from such a remote locale? Alternatively, if Volterra is not a realistic choice, we could stay in Florence and just take local bus to visit the hill towns and countryside.
  4. fly out of Rome or Milan (AM flight to USA)

I appreciate your comments, critiques, and suggestions!

Posted by
1510 posts

Sounds great--just need to flesh out the Tuscany part. There are places in Tuscany one can have an enjoyable stay without a car, but I would not consider Volterra one as there is no train station within the town. Do you have a Tuscany guide book on hand? There is usually a transport section listed for each place that makes sussing out a place to stay using public transport easy. (Otherwise, it can be accomplished with some targeted googling--I find the book route more efficient). Take a look at Siena--I believe the bus service is pretty good there.
No matter what, you are most likely going to have to stay in Milan or Rome your last night if those are your two best departure airports.

Posted by
16766 posts

Caveat: I do not have children.

I agree that Volterra is sort of isolated as a base if you won't have a car for that entire segment of the trip. So much depends on what smaller places you want to see. The fact is that Florence is the transportation hub for Tuscany. If you need to use trains and buses to get around, you can do it more efficiently from Florence. Should you decide to pay for a one-day bus tour to get you more efficiently to 2 or 3 small towns, you'll find that those depart mostly from Florence. (There might be some from Siena as well.) With young children, though, planning a whirlwind tour through six Tuscan hill towns may not be a great plan. My bet is that to the kids, those little spots are going to look a lot alike.

Maybe take a look at Lucca. It is not centrally located, but it has rail service. And it has a wall you can not only walk on top of, you can bicycle on it. A side-trip to Pisa is easily accomplished from Lucca.

Posted by
5637 posts

I like Volterra but it is rather remote to use as a base for exploring other towns. Lucca is far to the west. Choose Siena/ Chianti area or around Montalcino as a base.
I can’t imagine exploring Tuscany without a car, especially with children along. Why don’t you want a car? It would be so much easier and you’d see a lot more. We always rent cars for most of Italy, Amalfi/Sorrento being the one exception.
If you have an early flight, i.e., morning, then stay overnight near the airport.
Both Milan and Rome have direct trains to the airport from city centers.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. Looking into Lucca and siena areas now. It seems that the journey would be much easier with the car, I am just a little apprehensive about it because I’ve never driven overseas before and I don’t speak the language. Maybe I’m freaking out unnecessarily about it, after all I typically rent cars whenever we travel within the United States...

Posted by
1510 posts

Yeah driving is really not a big deal at all, though if your kids are of the rambunctious sort that might add to the stress, lol.
But first scope out your options in Siena and Lucca and any others that look appealing--no need to rent a car if you can get do what you want to do without one. And windy roads with kids could mean car sickness too--doubt they would find pretty hill towns as appealing as adults, but there are plenty of cool things to do with kids.