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Family Italy Trip 2022

Good morning. We are a family of 14 from Saratoga Springs, New York USA. Our ages are 2 to 81! We are looking for a villa near the beach for swimming and near a village or town for restaurants, shopping, etc. We have 4 young women - granddaughters - who are going to want to walk to the town and beach, or take a shuttle and have some freedom without a car. We have family who are going to want to explore on scooters. My husband and I would like to be able to walk to cafes, etc. Access to transportation to Rome would be nice also. We will be 77 and 82. We want a pool. Our budget is no more than $30,000 for the month. Can you help us find the right area and home? This is our dream vacation. God Bless and thank you.

Sent from my iPad

Ann Marie Rose

Posted by
6616 posts

We had great success working with a villa rental agent in Panzano, in Chianti region of Tuscany. Chianti and more dot com. Very responsive and found just what we wanted for our extended family. Friends have dealt with them too.

Posted by
1048 posts

Hi Ann Marie, there’s a town called Castel Gandolfo that overlooks the volcanic crater Lake Albano: that’s a one hour walk to get to. There's also direct hourly trains to / from Rome (1h) and has restaurants within walking distance.

Posted by
18911 posts

Time of year? Summer can be very, very hot in much of Italy. Having a pool will help, but I'd want a place with air conditioning, and I don't know how common that is.

Posted by
2140 posts

You might consider Sorrento- very walkable
Lots to do from there ( Pompeii, Naples, Capri, Amalfi) great restaurants and views, access to Rome although a bit far for day trips
The beaches there are not sandy, they are pebbly/rocky as are many beaches in Italy

I wouldn’t recommend any exploration on scooters anywhere in Italy unless you are very experienced

Rimini is another option although too far from Rome

Lake Garda or Lake Como also good options especially if in summer (too far from Rome but Verona, Venice, Bologna doable as day trip from Garda)

Posted by
582 posts

Take a look at Gaeta- small seaside town, great beaches and 1 1/2 hr train ride south of Rome. We spent 2 nights there about 8 years
ago and would love to go back.

Posted by
2746 posts

For a nice beach, I can recommend Tarquinia. It's about an hour north of Rome by train, so day trips into Rome would be fairly convenient. The town has Etruscan archaeological sites you can visit, and a reasonable choice of restaurants and overnight accommodations. If I remember correctly, it's about a 10-15 minute bus ride to the beach itself, which has locker rooms, umbrellas for rent etc.

The beach may be crowded in high summer, I don't know. I think I was there in May and the number of people on the beach was enough to not feel deserted, but certainly not crowded. The nice thing about Tarquinia was unpolluted sea water -- another time I went to the beach near Ostia (one of the nearest beaches to Rome) and you could actually see plenty of wisps of toilet paper and other refuse floating in the waves near shore -- yuck!

Posted by
2746 posts

Regarding Panzano, it's a lovely small town in the midst of the vineyards of the Chianti "Mondo del Gallo Nero" (black rooster Chianti wine region), but in my experience there's not a lot to do there. Without a car, you may be limited to the bus that goes in/out of Florence, which I think is nearly an hour-long trip (and up and down and around numerous hills).

Posted by
17 posts

I’m not far from Saratoga Springs. I think everyone from NY is looking to escape these days. I hope your trip goes well. I’m hoping to get over this summer. Good luck in your planning.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks to all! We have rented Santi Terzi in San Gemini from July 16 thru August 6, 2022. There will be 12 of us. Does anyone have information about hours from there to Florence, etc.?

Posted by
18911 posts

I'm not sure whether you're asking about driving time to Florence or something else. I'd use for driving-time estimates. VM estimates the fastest route at 2 hr. 18 min. That doesn't allow any time for traffic delays, getting lost, looking for parking or stopping anywhere. In addition, that's a measurement from the town of San Gemini; if your villa is out in the countryside on an unpaved road, the trip could take considerably longer due to the time required to get to the highway.

You'll need a detailed guidebook to maximize your sightseeing opportunities in that area. Rick's guide to Florence & Tuscany will provide in-depth information on the towns and areas it covers (Volterra, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, Cortona, the Val d'Orcia and Brunello Wine Country), but you'll need to branch out for coverage of Perugia, Gubbio, Orvieto (covered in the full guide to Italy), Viterbo, etc. If you're going to be doing your own driving, the Eyewitness Travel "Backroads Northern & Central Italy" guide could be particularly useful. Other posters who've spent considerable time in that part of Italy can tell you which books they found especially helpful.

If you are asking about tours, rather than hours, I don't think you'll find any public tours running from that area, because there wouldn't be enough tourists to support them. Tours usually originate in large cities (like Florence) and fan out to smaller places. However, I imagine the tourist office in Terni could help you connect with a driver and/or guide to arrange private tours.

One thing I've heard of villa renters doing is hiring a local cook/chef to prepare a nice dinner at the villa. Since you have a large family group, this might be an affordable activity.

Posted by
1048 posts

As acraven stated, expect a 3h drive to Florence meaning Florence is not a good day trip option from San Gimini. However, Spoleto is doable by bus / train taking 1h 45m, Following are more day trip options but none are convenient by public transportation:
Orvieto (1h 15m) by car
Civita di Banoregio (1h 15m)
Assisi (1h 15m)
Giove (45-minutes)
Perugia (1h 15m)
Spello (1h 15m)
Norcia (1h 30m)
Monte Peglia Natural Park (1h 30m)
Gubbio (1h 45m)

Posted by
25771 posts

Do you still want to be able to go to Rome? Terni to Roma Termini is just about an hour by train, plus of course getting to Terni station. Other than at rush hours they are every couple of hours apart.

Posted by
12504 posts

Hi Ann Marie, welcome to the RS forums!
Based on your initial post, I'm going to question whether the villa you've rented is a good choice? Understand that, as several have mentioned above, its remote location is likely going to mean renting vehicles, you're going to need multiples of those to accommodate the size of your group and their baggage, and multiple people are going to need to be willing to drive in Italy plus do the homework regarding what that entails.

It also is not located anywhere near a beach, Florence is not really a day trip from there, and there looks to be little to do within walking distance for a large and diverse group of ages; the town looks to be lovely (I'm reading that exploring it involves being able to manage steep hills + the villa itself involves a lot of steps) but tiny and can likely be covered in a day. Shopping? Probably very limited. The nearest train station is in Terni and its definitely not walking distance from the villa. The villa also doesn't look to provide any sort of transport, although you could ask? There is probably bus service to/from Terni/train station but hours may be limited; if still intent upon keeping the reservation, I'd have a conversation with the management regarding public transport options.

All-in-all, the sort of freedom you appeared to be looking for, as far as people being able to freely come and go without wheels plus the ability to easily get to some of the more desirable sightseeing cities, isn't something I'd say this location can provide. I'll also echo a poster above (plus many in past threads) and STRONGLY advise against renting Vespas unless the drivers have had extensive prior experience; Italy is not the place to learn!

Something to think about?
Are you sure you wouldn't want to be closer to more things to do and less time-consuming public transport? The young folks can only spend so much time in the pool. 😉

Posted by
2140 posts

Like Kathy- I am also at a loss as to why you chose this location. Unless your must haves are drastically different than your original post? It is not near anything convenient, not very close to a main train line and most every day trip will be long days on public transportation.

True- it is a gorgeous property but the property is listed as up for sale- if this listing is still current:

Not sure how that might affect your stay next summer.

You might reconsider and look for something in Tuscany- lots of villas and agriturismos with pools, etc that are close to so many towns to visit. Somewhere outside Siena or Lucca?

Posted by
917 posts

I am going to weigh in with some concerns. Twelve people traveling together, with significant age differences within the group and the attendant diverse desires and travel ideas, is a situation fraught with some difficulties.

As a seasoned traveler, I plan my own trips based upon my likes and dislikes, and even traveling with family or close friends, I am cautious to find out in advance the goals and wishes of each of the travelers. I am having some difficulties with your expressed desires in your original post when compared to the property you have reserved and the amenities (or lack thereof) with your ultimate choice.

Have you considered contacting a travel agent to assist you in cementing this "dream vacation" to make sure it is indeed a dream, and not a nightmare? Umbria has much to admire and enjoy, and this may be the best of all possible worlds, but you have evidently decided against the beach, and it is unlikely that a convenient shuttle will exist in San Gimini that will be convenient to all your plans. Santi Terzi seems to be beautiful, but what does the town offer that will create that perfect experience for your family?

Transportation would seem to be very difficult, although not impossible, and I have to echo the sentiments of other posters who are questioning your choice in light of your previously expressed checklist of desired features.

Scooter exploring is definitely NOT for the timid or inexperienced. This is Italy in the hills; think blind corners and testosterone steeped young motorists sharing the windy roads with you. Renting cars would necessitate multiple vehicles. Moreover, this is an Italian hill town. Think hills with no designed places for pedestrians to walk in. If you are in great shape, that's okay, but it's not for beginners.

You are spending a lot of money for this vacation. At least consider putting the task of planning it in the hands of some professionals who can tailor it for your large group.

Posted by
12504 posts

One more question, Ann? Is this you and/or your family's first trip to Italy? If it is, I'd definitely make it easier on everyone and base in a less remote location. Even if you can't find an accommodation that you can book for the same price for a month, it would be worth shortening the stay to suit the budget if a different location offers much more to do and a better transport hub.

Posted by
614 posts

Well, the villa does look lovely with lots of space for everyone, and you have had over 4 months since the original post to refine your wants and needs. Perhaps everyone is on board with this selection. It seems you will be fairly close to town, with your own pool, tennis and golf nearby.

One site to look at for transportation is Rome seems doable as a day trip, but Florence is really too far as a day trip. Since you’ll be there for 3 weeks, perhaps those who are interested could make Florence an overnight trip. Paying twice for accommodations, yes, but if that’s your one chance, it could be worth it.

Also, if someone(s) in your group are willing to drive a rental you can expand your horizons and explore the local towns and cities. It seems like a comfortable place to settle into for 3 weeks and enjoy your family.

Let us know what your thoughts are and we can help .

Posted by
12504 posts

....It seems like a comfortable place to settle into for 3 weeks and
enjoy your family.

Except that it doesn't seem to offer very much to keep that family of ages 2 to 81 occupied for an entire month. I know i'd go stir-crazy after a couple of days so it's possible some family members might as well. How long are those other members planning to stay? Other than shopping and the beach - neither of which are happening in this location - what sorts of things are the family members wanting to do on their holiday in Italy?

Posted by
165 posts

@ Anna Marie, Bella Donna or Bella Nona.

Umbria, Abruzzo, Molise, and Le Marche are the food basket of Italy and up until now largely ignored by travel companies. Long may it remain so. Most probably because one really does need a car(s) to enjoy the pleasures contained therein. Or just lucky.

I applaud your choice of accommodation and length of stay. My most recent time was September 2018 when we took a villa about 100 kms to the north of your selection just outside Todi. It was intended to be a recuperation week or so after an intense and extremely enjoyable time with my daughter-in- laws relatives in Abruzzo on the southern slopes of Gran Sasso. This is what we did around Todi:

Day 1. Arrived early evening and settled in.

Day 2. Local co-op and specialty shops to purchase food stuffs and beer/wines. Drive around looking for roadside farm produce for purchase. Children to the pool. BBQ at evening.

Day 3. Spent the afternoon in Todi. Parking area on the north-eastern perimeter and a funicular takes one to the town centre. Evening at Restaurant Umbria.

Day 4. Spent day on the grassy shores of Lake Trasimeno.

Day 5. Early morning set out to Norcia. 140kms north of my home city of Perth is a rural town, New Norcia. We were interested to see the origin of the name. The Spanish monks introduced olive oil.

Day 6. Early morning a son drove my daughter and her husband to Terni to train into Rome for the day. Picked them up late around 10PM. Spent the day in the pool with the grandchildren.

Day 7. Transitioned via Montepulciano to next villa Cavriglia, Montevarchi.

The temperature during this time maxed out at around 27/28C. We were a group of 8 adults and 5.15 children. Leased 3 Renault SUVs for 10 weeks. There was the odd contra taunt, but we are a close family, and these things get sorted without repercussions. From villa we did:

Day 1. Arrived late evening and settled in. Joined by youngest daughter and husband who had flown into Stuttgart, where his sister was living, and then commandeered her car and drove to join the main group for 3 weeks.

Day 2. Swam and purchased food stuffs at co-op and specialty shops in Montevarchi.

Day 3. Early drive to Florence for the day. We know the parking regime at piazza Michelangelo. Return to villa late into evening.

Day 4. Toured eastern Tuscany. Greve, Radda etc. Stopping to picnic and observe the commencement of the grape harvest.

Day 5. Early to Sienna. We use the public parking below the Cathedral and take the escalators up to the town. Stayed until after sunset.

Day 6. The boys and I drove to Scaperia, world renown for knife craftsmanship and to tour the Mugello GP circuit. We had in mind importing top quality sporting knives. The business plan has yet to come together.

Day 7. Swam and lazed by the pool.

Maximum temperatures were a little cooler, around 24/25c. Just perfect. My only recommendation is: enjoy your time with your family. Do your own thing. Do not try to live someone else’s vacation. San Gemini sounds and looks like my type of town. No veneer, a real town caring to the needs of real Italians. English speakers could be at a premium. Helpful if one can understand a little Italian.

Vincero! Vincero!

Regards Ron

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all so much for your input. We are committed and will definitely be going to Santi Terzi. We have met with people who have stayed there and they loved it. We will have two or three cars, so hopefully this will help. However we would like to take the train whenever possible. I’ve also looked into a private shuttle, but that gets expensive. The response from Ron looks a little more like what we will be doing. Looks like the two great grandchildren will not be joining us, so now we will be ages 17 to 82! Although my husband and I are 81 and 77, we are very active. 🙏

Someone suggested dealing with a travel agent. If anyone knows one who deals with Umbria, please forward that info. I haven’t been able to find that type of help.

Again, thank you all!

Stay safe!

Posted by
2883 posts

Your trip and location sound wonderful to us for our family of 8–it’s a dream here too. The villa offers ways to organize tours, the village looks charming. If the bus service (35 min to Terni) proves useful to the train line we could even manage with that. Enjoy the rest of your planning.

Posted by
361 posts

Keep in mind drivers need a International Permit- and also research the ZTL zones (restricted zones throughout the Country) that you may unintentionally or by accident drive thru - and beware of all the hefty fines you can incur years later - by both the rental car agency AND the Italian govt agency who handles said fines as well. In my opinion it is not worth the headache to drive as public transportation is so good in Italy.

Posted by
12504 posts

Good advice from Demi. Search the forum for past threads about driving in Italy, including...

Even though some of these threads involve different parts of Italy than where you'll be basing, the laws are the same. It's just best to be fully informed if this is going to be the first time behind the wheel in The Boot (have you or any of your party been there previously?)

Posted by
165 posts

@Ann Marie, Vespa Scooters.

Audrey Hepburn started a craze with that first Vespa. Also, a great advertising placement. Greg Peck did his bit to add to the occasion. Made it all look so romantic and enticing. Revisit Roman Holiday and see the chaos of their ride through the streets, knocking over the odd table and chair, terrorising a small open-air market, causing a young woman to spill her shopping bag of fruit, and culminating in a police chase. A great humorous sequence. Started the holiday in Italy through kaleidoscope eyes thing.

For me it was Anna Maria Alberghetti riding a Vespa in the early part of Ten thousand Bedrooms. I saw the movie on TV in the early 70’s and thought I was in love. In hindsight it was just lust. (Did all the young ladies really have thin waists back in the 50’s?) My memory tells me that the scooters are mostly popular in the major cities, Rome, Milan, Naples etc and not so much in the smaller hilltop towns. Could be wrong. I enjoy watching the young ladies in the cities confidently nipping around on their scooters. If I seem to be enjoying it too much my wife will bring me back to reality with a good elbow in the ribs.

In my youth, my mates and I used to ride trail bikes. I have ridden the odd Vespa. Not too confidently, though. Can be an unstable machine on wet asphalt. Can only imagine that it would be a beast to handle on wet/damp cobble stones. It would seem to me to be prudent to be able to ride competently before landing in Italy.

Approach a local Italian motorcycle club or Italian sports car club in your state for help. They should be able and willing to point you in the right direction to facilitate lessons and short-term hire of a Vespa if needed. 7 months or so should bring the proposed riders up to reasonable confidence level.

Buona Fortuna
Regards Ron