Help last minute trip - Italy w/kids

Had to change plans vecause of conflict in Israel and are now headed to Italy. (leave in less than 2 weeks)
We have four kids (13,11,8,6).
We have 11 days in Italy including the arrival and departure days. We get into Venice at 11am and fly
out of Rome at 6pm. Our first two nights are in Venice and our last three nights are in Rome. I tried
to legthen those stays but the VBRO apartments I already rented but they did not have availability. I was in a hurry to
secure accomodations and went with my initial attempt at an itinerary - I now know better but it is too late.
Since I have been warned about the horrible crowds in both Venice and Rome we thought it would be good to get
out and away for a few days. We are considering the Dolomites. I found accomodations for 3 nights near Ortesei.
My husband would like to visit Pompeii before heading to Rome. I've thought about doing something like this.
(We are all taking carry-on backpacks only). Any suggestions or help with transportation logistics would be appreciated.

Day 1: Venice @11am; sleep Venice
Day 2: Venice ; sleep Venice
Day 3: travel to Ortesei; sleep in Ortesei
Day 4: hike dolomites; sleep in Ortesei
Day 5: hike dolomites; sleep in Ortesei
Day 6: travel to somewhere?
Day 7: travel to pompei; sleep pompei ??? just a thought -nothing reserved
Day 8; visit Pompeii; sleep in Rome
Day 9: Rome; sleep in Rome
Day 10: Rome; sleep in Rome
Day 11: leave Rome at 6pm

Can we do this with public transportation? Car rentals are looking expensive and we don't know much about driving in Italy.
Not sure what to do with Day 6, I'd like to stop in a town along the route from Verona to Pompeii but don't know if that is just
too crazy. I haven't had too much learn about Italy and process all of this. Thank you for your help!

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1700 posts

With only 9 full days on the ground and 4 kids to move, I would suggest no more than 3 locations for sleeping. One possibility would be to travel from the Dolomites to Rome and do Pompeii as a day trip from Rome; the RS guidebook provides instructions for doing it by train as a day trip, and a number of companies offer organized day tours from Rome to Pompeii. Orvieto is a pleasant and easy day trip. Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome, is an archaeological site that can be done in a half day, and the Appian Way and the catacombs are a nice non-urban outing within Rome, best done on a Sunday.

If you can't extend your current reservation Rome, perhaps they could help you find another place nearby for the extra days. I've done that a few times on trips, and changing lodging within a neighborhood is not very time-consuming.

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, USA
587 posts

A great place to stay near Pompeii is Sorrento. Its also a great location to day trip to Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
510 posts

Hi, here's some options that would limit your transportation time and allow you to travel by train (& bus out of Ortesei). Another option in the Dolomites that may be easier to get to/from is Moena with better bus connection times.

We can probably give you better advice if we know if you really want to go to the Dolomites or if you're just trying to avoid crowds. We love the Dolomites, but there are other options to avoid crowds, also.

Day 1: Venice @11am; sleep Venice
Day 2: Venice ; sleep Venice
Day 3: travel to Ortesei (4 hrs - train; check your last connection which is bus that only runs every 4 hrs from Bolzano); sleep in Ortesei
Day 4: hike dolomites; sleep in Ortesei
Day 5: hike dolomites; sleep in Ortesei
Day 6: Take bus/train combo (2.5 hrs) to Verona
Day 7: Verona; sleep in Verona
Day 8; Take train (3 hrs) to Rome; sleep in Rome
Day 9: visit Ostia Antica (a good substitute for Pompeii); sleep in Rome
Day 10: Rome; sleep in Rome
Day 11: leave Rome at 6pm

Posted by mephelps5
13 posts

We would like to visit the Dolomites. The pictures I have seen are amazing and my children enjoy outdoor pursuits.
I was worried that it wan't doable on public transportaion. Or maybe that it is too far to try for such a limited time.
It looks like four and half hours to get there by train/bus. Am I right about this - train from Venice to Verona, then Verona to Bolzano and then bus from Bolzano to Ortesei.
What not crowded places do you suggest between Venice and Rome? Maybe the 9 hour travel time for 2 days of hiking is not
wise. I had read that from Venice to the Dolomites it was 2 1/2 hours but I'm assuming that is by car maybe taking a more direct route.
I'm afraid if we stay on the train route though every place will be too crowded.

Posted by mephelps5
13 posts

Since we are flying out of Rome we have decided to leave the Dolomites for another trip. Now I am looking for recommendations on how to spend the 5 nights between Venice and Rome. Do we need a rental car to stay at an agriturismo and visit it's nearby towns? Hopefully I can find something available.

Posted by katijakadeer
1 posts

I think you are missing on some great sites one is the Brunello chianti which is a wine tour then in Venice and Rome apart from Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi coast, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia . These are must to see sites when here. you would surely get an affordable car rental service here that wont be much expensive. You can go ahead and find information at [http://www.romeholidayslimousines.com]
You will definitely get some help.

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
510 posts

Hi, I'm looking at a few towns that I would recommend, but I'm not seeing any availability for hotels. Since you're on a tight timeframe, I'd start looking at any locations where you can find rooms, and check on-line images to see if you like the town. I haven't been to an Italian town, yet, that you can't have a wonderful time. A quick check for travel time between locations is www.rome2rio.com which will tell you whether it's train, bus, etc. Longer distances on the map may be shorter time on the train, depending if those locations are on the faster trains.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7416 posts

I don't think that RomeHolidaysLimousines link will be right for you. For a regular car rental, try Auto Europe. It's standard to pick up and drop cars in different towns in Italy without penalty, but a van for 6 or 7 passengers is expensive (I guess like most things for 6 people). Trains really cover a lot of ground. If you're picking up Rick Steves' Italy book, several maps there reflect train lines. For instance, Chiusi and Orvieto are both on the main train line and Assisi, Siena, Perugia on smaller lines. But most real agriturismos and some other hill towns will require a car.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
1081 posts

A couple of years ago we visited a lovely little town on the Adriatic coast called Senigallia. It has a very long sandy beach with shallow water that would be perfect for children to play in. There are lots of hotels along the beach (some with children's play areas on the beach). Lots of restaurants along the beach, some with tables directly on the sand where the adults could sip something cool while keeping an eye on the kids. Besides the beach, the town has a fort, a market (daily?), and an inviting "authentic" Italian downtown area. A good day trip could be the Caverns of Frassasi, which are amazing.

Anywhere in Italy will likely be crowded this time of year, but Le Marche (where Senigallia is located) would be less overwhelming.

It's 3 hrs. 41 minutes on the train from Venice to Senigallia, and then 3 hrs 48 minutes by train from Senigallia to Rome, so it breaks that trip up a bit.

I would try to add a night to Venice if you can.

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
3020 posts

Jean said "Day 3: travel to Ortesei (4 hrs - train; check your last connection which is bus that only runs every 4 hrs from Bolzano); sleep in Ortesei"

The bus from Bolzano to Ortisei runs hourly. It is #170 available at the bus station or right in front of the train station. It departs at :10 after the hour form 08:10 to 17:10 although a couple of the buses are July-August only. I realize you have abandoned plans for this areas, but I have to chime in and say not only is it doable, 3 nights in Ortisei will refresh you immensely. It is a wonderful place and your outdoorsy kids will love riding the lifts to the mountains and hiking in the alpe.

Personally I think Pompeii is too far off the path for this trip. It will be miserably hot and crowded, too. Skip it this time and come back in a cooler season to enjoy the ruins.

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
386 posts

I agree to skip Pompeii this trip. It is far to get to from Rome I think and will be super super hot and crowded.

Posted by Linda
Clifton Park, NY
52 posts

I have traveled to Italy many times with kids. My first thought with your restrictions is to stay at an agriturismo in tuscany with a pool after Venice and then go on to rome.
For something completely different look at Italyfarmstay.com. Gets great reviews, I think your kids are the perfect age and would love it. It is about 1 hour and 1/2 south of rome. I don't have any direct knowledge of the farm stay but I know the area and the mountains are beautiful, lots of outdoor things to do.

Posted by TravelJess
US/Philly
12 posts

If you are starting in Venice, and ending in Rome, spend a few days in Florence. You can take day trips to Sienna, Montalcino, and other Tuscan towns. We took our kids last year (aged 5 and 9), and spend 3 nights in florence, 3 nights in Montalcino, and 3 nights in Rome. We rented a care in Montalcino, which was our first time driving in Italy (we have been 4 times total). Driving and navigating is extremely stressful, especially into towns.

Our kids loved just walking around and climbing on all the ruins. They loved walking up to Piazza Michelangelo in Florence, and Coliseum in Rome. Rome also has Gladiator School, which we did not do since my daughter was not old enough for. Check our CiaoBambino.com for ideas with kids. We travel with our kids a lot; do not try to do too much, or everyone will melt down! and keep snacks on you; meals are different times, and hungry kids can throw everything off. Italy is great with kids, accommodating everywhere! Enjoy!

Posted by mephelps5
13 posts

Thank you for the suggestions! Was it easy to find kid friendly snacks at the grocery stores there?

Posted by Allie
USA
130 posts

I took my 16 and 13 year old to Italy last summer. The highlight was the time we spent at the agriturismo with the pool after the crowded hot cities. Maybe you could choose Orvieto so you have an easy trip to Rome afterwards. They were not too thrilled with the hill towns. My husband and I agreed that we would have a different trip to Italy one day just the two of us. You can't do all of Italy in one trip with 4 kids.

Posted by Allie
USA
130 posts

And getting snacks at the grocery store is a great idea and was easy!

Posted by bdpike
12 posts

We just returned from Italy for our 5th trip! Several years ago we spent 2 nights in Venice then took the train to Cinque Terre. We stayed in Riomaggorie. These are 5 villages on the west coast with tremendous views and walks along the Med Sea. Swimming is great for teens and boat rides up and down the coast are tremendous.
I would agree - skip Pompeii but go to Sorrento and take a boat trip down the Amalfi coast to Positano.
Rome is extremely crowded and hot in Aug. Take lots of water also and watch your purse. We prefer taking trains and cabs rather than renting a car. Driving can be challenging and also parking spots difficult to find.
Enjoy your trip. Great food, wine and people in Italy!