Please sign in to post.

Italy help needed

Hello everyone - this is my first post. My daughter's skate team will be competiting in the WOrld championships in Toulouse, France in April 2010. We are traveling with one other family and would like to extend the vacation both pre and post competition. Here are my thoughts thus far after weeks of research! -

Leave Chicago Fri 4/16 and arrive in Paris 4/17.

Spend 4/17 thru 4/21 in Paris
Leave 4/21 for Toulouse (rail I believe)
Spend 4/21 - thru 4/24 in Toulouse
Leave Touulous via one of the value airlines (easy jet?) for Italy? and spend 6 nights in Italy & fly home from there.

What I need help with is Italy - There is SO much to see and so much to do it's simply overwhelming. I can't even decide where to fly into/out of much less where to spend our time.

We will have 4 adults and 4 girls ranging in age from 10-15.

Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

Thank you

Posted by
204 posts


Fly into Venice- out of Rome

Venice 2 nights
Train to Rome - 5-6 hours 1 day
Rome 3 days

Venice will interest the younger ones as well-no cars get around by boat- walk back streets, fish market, pizza.

Rome - Ancient ruins abound - just to sit in a piazza or around the Spanish steps and people watch. Certainly the girls will love the shops as well.

Just a week I would limit myself to 2 cities and not be rushed.

Posted by
536 posts

Hi Chris - With only six days in Italy I would suggest only doing a couple of cities and, of course, two of the best are Roma and Venezia - I would start in Rome, staying at The Hotel Forte, directly at The Spanish Steps -
From this central location you can easily walk to The Via VENETO, The Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, and , of course, The Steps themselves, with all the side streets full of Cafes, shops, and great sights.
You can then train it to Venice and I would suggest -
An excellent Hotel, located directly behind the Piazza San Marco and again easy walking to Rialto, with all it's shops and restaurants, the Piazza itself with all it's activity, and The Grand canal.
There are so many other places like Le Cinque Terre, Sorrento, The rest of The Amalfi Coast but time would not allow all of that. Until your next trip.

Ciao, Greg

Posted by
97 posts

Greg & Shelley - Thank you both for your replies.

I think Venice would be amazing.

& Rome may be a must

I was hoping to see maybe a little more. but you're probably right, 6 days is just not enough time to do very much.

I should also say that it's our first trip to Europe & while we are well seasoned US & Canada travelers we are beyond excited about this trip, so the tendency to squeeze the living heck out of our time is always there. I am trying to keep those thoughts at bay and truly see a few amazing things.

More thoughts always welcome


Posted by
1201 posts

No more than two cities in Italy and whileIi would include Venice for half of the time, you could skip Rome. While everyone may disagree, you can make a first trip to Italy and not include rome.

You could go Venice and Florence or Venice and a small hilltown in Tuscany or Venice and Verona.

Posted by
1018 posts

One of the common mistakes people make is planning an over ambitious itinerary. Always keep in mind that you will return and visit other parts of Italy. I have been doing this since 1980.

Flying into Venice and out of Roma would save you time and maximize your 6 days. Maybe you could fly into venice and out of Florence. The 2 city idea is doable and it would give you a taste of what you can return to see.

Buon viaggio,


Posted by
3551 posts

Venice is terrific for all age grps but lodging can be costly. Second would be Florence(for art lovers) with a side day trip to Tuscany. If you are Catholic, Rome is a must stay all your time in Rome see alot beside the Vatican and greatest museums and fountains. You cannot go wrong what ever decision you make. Buon Viaggio.

Posted by
1446 posts

What a great opportunity for everyone! I'm sure the 4 girls are very excited. I would fly into Venice & out of Rome. I would definitely limit your time in Italy to 2 cities. 6 days sounds like a lot but you need to figure in travel time between destinations, time to get to the airport, train stations, etc.

I think Rome would be fun for the's vibrant & full of life. It's fun (& safe) to walk around at night & of course there's a lot to see during the day. You will only skim the surface in Rome for 3 days but I think it would be interesting for the kids. A visit to Rome will make their history lessons come to life!

I agree with spending the other 3 days in Venice. I would definitely visit Murano & Burano on one of those days. You take a boat to both islands & it's very easy to do. Murano is where the blown glass comes from & the girls might find it interesting to watch a demonstration of this. Burano is really quaint with brightly colored houses.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
32109 posts


Given the circumstances, is there any possibility you could get a few extra days for the trip? As you noted, there is SO much to see!

The trip from Paris to Toulouse will be fairly easy. For example, the current schedule shows a train departing Paris Montparnasse at 08:10, arriving Toulouse-Matabiau at 13:26 (time 5H:16M, no changes, reservations compulsory).

The trip from Toulouse to Italy will be a bit different. AFAIK, EasyJet does not operate any flights to Italy from the Toulouse area. You may be able to get a flight from Toulouse to Venice (via Geneva) on Baboo, which is a Swiss regional airline. As with any budget airline, BE SURE to pack light (usually only ONE carry-on item allowed). Travel by train from Toulouse to Venice would likely use a full day of your valuable travel time.

I agree with the others in that two cities is probably the limit for a six day trip. You may want to check the Italy Guidebook or some of Rick's TV shows to get some ideas on places that would be of most interest to your group. You could either visit two cities (Venice & Rome) or one city and a smaller location (Rome and perhaps the Cinque Terre or Siena).

I definitely feel that Rome is a "must see", and spending at least three days there would be a good idea. There's LOTS to see! Be sure to wear Money Belts!

You can return home via FCO. You can use either the Leonardo Express to get to the airport, or with such a large group a Shuttle might be a cost effective alternative. Check the website under "Transportation" for the details.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
1589 posts

Keep a close eye on your older girls in Toulouse- it's a Navy town. It is the main port for the French Navy and US ships and subs get in there as well. I say this as a father of 2 girls and as a proud Navy veteran!

Posted by
97 posts

So many things to consider.

I like the idea of spending some time in Venice. Florence and Pisa sound interesting to me as well. Rome would be so wonderful to see, but perhaps that's best saved for another trip that can include southern Italy - My grandfather was Sicilian, and sometime in my life Sicily is a must. We are Catholic and our oldest was just confirmed this past year.

As for travel...would it be best to travel from Toulouse to Venice or Florence? & what would be the best method? and then home from which city?

I'm going back to the library today to pick up Rick's Italy book...I had previously only looked at the Rome edition. The France and Paris book have been studied for hours! ha ha.

Thanks again all

Posted by
779 posts

What an exciting trip.

I agree that two destinations in Italy is about all you want to fit in, given your time and other destinations on the trip.

One additional question - all of your locations are in cities. Are you all city-oriented people? Would you like to visit some of the more rural areas in either France or Italy? Personally, we like to visit both urban and rural area on each trip, and feel it provides a more representative vist of that area.

Anyway, if you want to skip Rome this time (while Rome is wonderful, so are your other possibilities), and will visit Florence and Venice, then I'd suggest flying into Florence and out of Venice. The flights from Venice back to North America tend to leave very early in the morning, and to make that trek to the airport from the middle of Venice, early in the morning, can be a hassle.

Re Florence vs. Rome. We took our 10yo daughter Venice, Florence, Rome and rural areas in Le Marche (region that's east of Umbria) this fall. She loved EVERYTHING, but would probably pick Venice and Rome if she had to narrow it down to two. But she loved the art in Florence.

Completely different idea: Have you considered the Dordogne area of France, instead of Italy? Beautiful region; interesting castles and prehistoric art, and great food. Toulouse is on the edge of the Dordogne.

All of your possibilities are great!

Posted by
643 posts

I would opt for Venice and Florence. While Rome is wonderful, you might not be able to do it justice in a short time. Also, you might want to check out renting an apartment. Check out (vacation rental by owner.) It may be budget worthy since you are traveling with a large group. In any event, how wonderful for your girls - France and Italy!!

Posted by
6938 posts

There is so much to see, but I will be a bit contrary to the responses so far and say that Rome, for you, is a don't miss. Venice is fine, love it, but a couple nights will do it justice for a first visit. You could do a quick stop in Florence, on your way to Rome, walk the streets, see David, then on to Rome. Rome is a must because of the classic sights. The Colossium, the forum, St. Peters, the Pantheon...Make my point yet? Basically, with four girls that age, keep the pace somewhat quick and hit sights that resonate with them. Hours at the Uffizi may not impress, but David or the Sistine Chapel probably already have a recognition factor and are the things that make memories. My vote? fly to Venice day 1, night, day two in Venice and second night; day three, early train to Florence, spend the day there, get to Rome in the evening; then balance of time in Rome.

Posted by
316 posts

I think Paul has made some great suggestions. The only change I would make would be to travel to Florence late in the afternoon/early evening of the 2nd day rather than spend precious morning time on the train. Even an early train will "eat" up a lot time since you will need to find your hotel, dump your luggage, etc. before sightseeing. Santa Maria Novella (the train station in Florence) is within walking distance of hotels in the San Lorenzo market area. I'd recommend staying here because it's so close to the staion and the kids will love walking through the market on the way to see other sights.

Posted by
1170 posts

My preference would be Florence and Rome. It will be easier to navigate Florence with a group that size. Fly into Florence for two nights, and then travel by train to Rome for 4 nights. In Florence, see "David", visit the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo and Baptistry for certain, and maybe some other churches, the Medici Chapel, Mercato Centrale, Pitti Palace, and Boboli Gardens as time permits. There is a lot that you can see with 3 full days in Rome. Take your pick of the sites and save at least half a day each for The Vatican and the Roman ruins.

Posted by
319 posts


I think Rome is absolute must. Especially since you are Catholic. St Peters and the Vatican museum (culminating in the Sistine Chapel) are awe inspiring. And the city has so much to offer. And the food! You could easily spend all six days in Rome, and take day trips to sites outside the city if you want a change of scenery.

Rome is actually not all that convenient for a trip to Sicily, so there's no need to hold off on that account.

Venice is nice for a day or two, and it's a good option for a second city on your tour. You won't need more time there than that, especially as you'll be with a few younger kids who may not be as enamored with the romance and the history of the city as the typical tourist.

If you do go to Venice, I'd start there and end in Rome as I think it'll be easier for you to fly home from Rome than from Venice.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
15477 posts


While the luggage allowance for most trans-Atlantic flights is generous (2 checked bags, 50 lbs. each, per person), flights within Europe generally have a luggage allowance of 1 checked bag, maximum 44 lbs.

Either plan to travel light or consider trains instead of flying from France to Italy.

Posted by
354 posts

hi Chris, if you're Catholic, then a visit to Rome can be very meaningful indeed. The Vatican, St Peter's Basilica, and many other churches with significance for the faith, and full of beautiful art. There's also lots of variety in terms of Rome sights: Roman ruins, beautiful squares, landmarks, shopping etc, so the girls will be entertained. I remember my first trip as a teen, it was just so thrilling to take photos of famous landmarks I'd only ever seen in photos or the movies, and Roman landmarks are among the most recognisable in the world, aren't they? It's impossible to see everything in a few days, so some hard decisions will have to be made! I think 2 cities is do-able. Perhaps you'll return for a longer trip another time, many people on this helpline certainly have ... Italy just has that magic.

Posted by
97 posts

A huge thank you to you all - Everyone has been so helpful. I think I have the post competition trip narrowed down to Venice & Rome.

What do you think about renting a car and driving from Toulouse, France to Venice? It looks like the route according to Google maps is simply beautiful. I was able to find a relatively good rate for an 8 passenger van thru our USAA insurance. That would allow us to pick up the rental car in Paris, drive to Toulouse (our hotel in Toulouse has parking free) and drive from Toulouse to Venice, and then return the car in Venice and take the train to Rome. Is that too ambitious? All 8 of us have done 3 week road trips together here in the states and have managed to not strangle one another, so 10 -12 hours in a van seems very doable to me???