Itinerary and Lodging Suggestions for a Large Family

We will be in Italy for 12 nights beginning Mar 30, flying into Rome and out of Venice. We are a family of 8 with granparents, parents and 4 young children (1, 4, 7, 9). Our tentative itinerary is for ~5 nights in Rome, 2-3 in Florence, 2-3 exploring another town (considering Cinque Terre), and 2 in Venice. Probably planning to train from place to place but would consider renting a van (if one that seats 8 is feasible). Haven't booked anything yet except for airline tickets. Looking for feedback the itinerary and what you would add or subtract. Would really appreciate suggestions for lodging. I think we would be most comfortable in 2-3 bedrooms (our kids cosleep with us, our inlaws, and each other more often than we would prefer, like basically every night) We would love to rent a flat in Rome but are finding VRBO somewhat overwhelming. We also have had mixed experiences with VRBO rentals--some have been great but we have been really burned on others. We would like to be confident that we will be staying in a nice place. For the other parts of the itinerary, we are thinking b&bs or small hotels, but would consider renting a place in the countryside as a base for exploring multiple towns. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3353 posts

I would do 3 nights in Florence (not 2), 3 in Venice, 4 in Rome. But that's me. Also I would have done the reverse itinerary (arrival in VCE and depart from Rome FCO), because the flight out of Venice is probably very early in the morn and getting to the VCE airport that early from the city by boat is a pain. But, if you have already the tickets, too bad. With so many people I would go with apartments, if possible. You'll save (although if I had to travel with so many members of my family in the same house I would probably kill some of them). Try homelidays.com and homeway.com, besides the famous booking.com, venere.com. If you rent a van (they aren't cheap to rent in Italy, but train tickets for 8 people wouldn't be cheap either), then you should look for places outside of the city, like an agriturismo (farmhouse), apartments in villa or out of town B&B, because they are cheaper and also you can't enter the historical city centers by car without resident permit (you need to park the car in the parking lots outside the ancient city walls or in Piazzale Roma in Venice). Considering however that you are visiting primarily big cities or places where cars aren't needed (like Cinque Terre) and actually are a hassle to have (Rome, Florence, Venice), you should limit your rental to the visiting of the countryside and small villages of Tuscany/Umbria (if you intend to visit those areas). One way could be to rent in Rome (or nearby Orvieto), after visiting the city for a few days, drive north through Tuscany, then return the car as soon as you hit Florence. Renting cars from the airport is way more expensive than from the city center locations, therefore if you decide to rent a car, do so from the city locations.

Posted by Ls
Spartanburg, U.S.
2 posts

Sounds like you are in for an exciting trip! My husband and I have been visiting Rome for the past week and have really enjoyed a small B&B called City Life. The owner Franco and his assistant Mila (she speaks fluent English) have been wonderful. We have been served a fabulous breakfast in our room every morning. This might be a big help to you with such a large group. The rooms are very clean and comfortable. The B&B is divided between 2 floors of a very nice building in Rome. It might work nicely for you because it is small and the rooms are close together. There is only a small foryer area that would be separate you, and the children could move freely and safely between. Door of B&B remains locked with tennants having the key to enter and exit. Another nice feature is that we are located only a 10 minute walk from Termini station. Getting to B&B upon arrival was very easy. Roma stops at next street over so catching it daily is very convenient. There is a wonderful family owned restaurant 2 minutes from the B&B. Great food. We have eaten there often for dinner. There is a laundry facility on this street also. We found out about City Life from Rick Steve's travel guide. That gave us confidence to reserve room here without having been to Rome before. Extremely resonable price for such great service. We will stay here again if we return to Rome.

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
296 posts

You might consider using a rental agency to help you find the right apartment instead of doing all the looking yourself on VRBO or other sites. although you will pay some kind of agency fee, they can often be more efficient in finding the right place with the right features and sometimes they have a local office which can be useful. Here are some agencies that might help you find the right place. Bed and Breakfast Association of Rome is often helpful www.b-b.rm.it or Dolce Roma www.dolceroma.it halldis www.halldis.com Italy Perfect
www.italyperfect.com

Posted by Jay
Durango, CO, USA
3 posts

These are the conclusions I have drawn over several days of working on the problem: Apartments are by far the most economical way for a large family or multiple couples to stay in Europe. Apartments for 6-10 can be found for 150-300E/night which is usually far less than multiple hotel rooms. Haven't made the trip yet, but some of these places look VERY nice! VRBO is not as overwhelming as it seems. OK, trying to find an apartment in Rome for 8 for Easter weekend is hard and overwhelming. In general, I have found the VRBO landlords to be very responsive and friendly, and I have had fun with my email conversations with them. There are lots of options to suit different tastes and budgets. I would recommend finding an apartment for any stay 3+ nights in the major cities, really for any sized group of 2+, but definitely for larger groups. Some particulars: romeloft.com seems to have some very upscale apartments throughout rome and I have found them very nice to work with. they also have a car transfer service from the airport for large groups which seems very reasonable (65E for our party of 8). Views on venice also has some amazing looking apartments (these are advertised on vrbo)note they seem to be strict about the maximum occupancy rules. finally, we have decided on training it for transport. as far as I can tell we will have substantial discounts for our four young kids and the car rental was expensive even before tolls and gas, not to mention the headaches of parking and limited traffic zones. appreciate all of your input. will give feedback about the different places we stayed and agencies we used.

Posted by courtney
London, UK
68 posts

I to would agree with Roberto and spend at least 4 days in Rome as there is so much to see and do. I think what you should also take into consideration is time spent traveling getting from one city to the next. you will most likely lose a half day checking out of one place, getting the train to the next and then checking in at your next destination. i not sure how you are traveling but if its by train have a look at www.trenitalia.com they also do discounts on family tickets http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=91fb335a9a605210VgnVCM1000003f16f90aRCRD
in regards to accommodation i know it can be overwhelming and using an agency could help. we have used www.nextaway.com in the past

Posted by Kathy
United States
76 posts

I'll agree with Roberto that you should do at least three nights in Florence: lots to see and do there! And I'd keep the 5 nights in Rome. One caution about the Cinque Terre? It's a beautiful place but I note that you are traveling with grandparents and an infant? The villages are going to be difficult for anyone with knee problems or inability to handle steep slopes and lots of stairs. Areas of Monterosso and the main piazza in Vernazza are relatively flat but others are not, and getting to some of the churches and overlooks involves uphill/downhill walking. They're also not especially stroller friendly either. I don't imagine that you're planning on hiking the Blue Trail while you're there but if you were thinking about it, be aware that it's totally closed right now, and dates for reopening any of the individual segments is uncertain.