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Moms who have been to Rome and Venice- help with itinerary

Hi friends,
I am taking my mom for her first trip to Italy May 2015. So far our itinerary is Rome 7 days/8 nights and 5 days/6 nights in Venice. She really wants to see the Pope and Venice. There is so much to see and do in Rome but I would like to give Venice as much time as I can so we can be leisurely. The problem is my itinerary means we take the train on May 10 from Rome to Venice- which is Mother's Day and her birthday. I don't want her to spend such a special day on a 4 hour train ride but then again the whole trip is a gift for her birthday. I have asked her what she would like to do and she very graciously says "I will go where you go."
To the moms out there, should I spend an extra day in Rome and shave off a day in Venice? I have been to both and I just want to make her happy. And yes . . . I know this is a good problem to have :)

Posted by
693 posts

I'm not a mom, but arriving by train in Venice on my birthday would make me happy...... especially if it was followed up with a nice dinner!

Posted by
308 posts

Ha MPH, you made me LOL. I never thought of it that way!

Posted by
20718 posts

In my opinion both are a little long - What about 3 days in Florence? Say 4 nights Venice, 3 in Florence, and 7 in Rome. You can break up Rome with a couple of day side trips.

Posted by
9450 posts

I would keep the itinerary as is. If you buy in advance (available up to 120 days on Trenitalia), you can get a great price on First Class tickets and choose a "detached window" set of seats where you are facing one another with no seatmates. You will get the opportunity for a coffee or glass of prosecco and a small snack from the steward, or you can pop for a half-bottle of prosecco from the bar car for a birthday cin cin. It is a lovely train ride that will pass quickly!

I would also keep your nights as is for a memorable and leisurely trip. We had a trip of 5 nights our first time in Rome and found we wore ourselves out trying to "do" everything. Our second visit (before we knew we were moving here) was 9 nights and we loved the pace. We allowed ourselves a 2-3 hour break almost every afternoon or at least before dinner, and our stamina was better for it. So take your time! Day trips to Ostia Antica or Orvieto will break up the time, if you need.

We also love Venice and have spent 24 nights there in the past 4 years. 5 days will give you time to go to the islands and maybe even cruise the Brenta Canal which I have not done yet because we usually go there in winter. I would recommend you NOT steal any time from Venice.

You are going to have such a memorable trip! Brava!

Posted by
1501 posts

What a Sweetheart you are, Jackie! Can I adopt you?! LOL

I think your trip is perfectly planned, and I would not change anything for Mom to avoid a train on her Special Day == she's already got a Special Week, Special Vacation and a Spectacular Daughter!

Posted by
2235 posts

Jackie, what better way to celebrate Mothers Day and a birthday than with a lovely brunch in Rome, ideally with some great historic scenery, then a nice relaxing, fast, mid-day train through the Italian countryside, arriving in Venice in time for a wonderful special canal-side dinner! Sounds pretty perfect to me. I hope you will be packing light, so the transfer from the train station in Venice to your lodging is an easy one. May is a terrific month to visit Italy, enjoy every moment!

Posted by
4531 posts

Jackie,

I agree with Laurel. I would not change your itinerary.

It's always best to have a leisurely trip than one where you spend so much time in transit.

Did you already booked your flights? If not, have you considered flying into Venice or Milan & traveling
south to Rome (fly home from Rome) ?
I've taken my mom on several trips & her reply is the same as your mom's; " I will go where you go"
or "I will go wherever you want to take me"

Moms are so special, aren't they?

While in Venice, you can go to Padua (Padova) by train (26 minutes-high speed train)
and visit the Scrovegni Chapel (advance reservations required) & The Basilica of Saint Anthony.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
11981 posts

Your mother has never been to Italy. 8 nights in Rome and 6 nights in Venice are really a lot, no matter how much you like those two cities.
To go from Rome to Venice you must pass through Florence, which is exactly half way between the two.
That would be a perfect opportunity to add that city to your itinerary and break the journey in half.

The total nights are 14. Five in Rome, five in Florence (with day trips within Tuscany), and four in Venice would be my choice, give and take a night or two. That is still a more than leisurely pace.

Posted by
11613 posts

Jackie, a great gift! Leave it as you have planned, you and your Mom will have a great time in these two beautiful cities. From Rome you can day trip to Orvieto or even Assisi. As mentioned, Padova is an easy ride from Venice.

Travel light, with your schedule you'll be able to do or send out laundry midway through, rather than lugging two weeks' worth of clothes.

Posted by
3838 posts

My mom (67 and loves to walk) joined my husband and I on our trip to Italy this year. We've been to Italy 3 times before, but she has only even been to UK to visit my sister (hasn't even seen London!) I wanted her to experience somewhere else and fall in love with Italy like I have. (It was her Mother's Day/birthday/Xmas gift).

After picking her up in Portsmouth from visiting with my sister (she flew over 3 weeks ahead of us), we flew from London to Naples (1 night), did Pompeii, spent 3 nights in Atrani on the Amalfi Coast (our first time there), 5 nights in Rome (2nd time) and 3 nights in Venice (our 4th visit there).

As much as I wanted her to love Venice like I do, her favourite part of the trip was Amalfi Coast. With all that time, you could certainly shave a few nights off Rome (we've spent 10 nights on two trips) and Venice (spent 9 nights there over 4 trips) and stay in Florence for a few nights (or even Amalfi).

I think she found Rome maybe a little crowded (the metro was quite packed and hot, but we did walk a lot - we were there 2nd week of Sept)...and I know Mom's have different preferences, but she didn't seem to be 'digging' the ancient sites. We'd be like - look! - the Colosseum...look! - the Pantheon and she'd was seemingly underwhelmed (she did like the Vatican and St Peter's tho). She loves walking and really enjoyed the nature/views on the Amalfi Coast. She did really seem to enjoy Burano as well (lovely colourful island near Venice).

Posted by
1747 posts

Well, I'm a mom and I would think that her "special day" really isn't that big a deal, especially when she (all moms) have had so many of them already! I wouldn't change your schedule to accommodate her day. I think the real treasure will be time spent with you on this wonderful trip!

Have a fabulous time!

Posted by
1859 posts

Hi Jackie! Yes, it is a wonderful gift for your Mom (and you, as well) and I agree, the best part of the gift is the time you will spend together. As a Mom of a "certain age" myself, I see a big part of this very special trip is in your doing the bulk of the planning for you both, with her wishes (the Pope, Venice) at the forefront. While I do love the process of planning trips, sometimes it's just a good thing to sit back and let my family do it so I can just go along for the ride! I know you will have a wonderful time together. I vote for not changing your itinerary.

Posted by
32 posts

Hello, Jackie - another Chicagoan! I actually did something similar for my mom for her birthday - but her city priorities were different. In terms of adding another city to your trip, is your mom really into art? If so, I would add Florence to your itinerary. If not, has your mom ever mentioned wanting to go to Tuscany (outside of Florence)? The region overall would be a good midpoint between Rome and Venice. You can base yourself somewhere central, like Siena, and take day trips from there. I absolutely love Rome, but there is the potential to take a couple days from Rome and Venice and add another stop to your journey, without it being too rushed. It may be nice to add a slower Tuscany stop in between Rome and Venice, to give your mom and you a break from more congested locales. Just a thought.

Posted by
4531 posts

Jackie,

I've been following this thread & have enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

I think Roberto has a good point:

To go from Rome to Venice you must pass through Florence, which is exactly half way between the two.
That would be a perfect opportunity to add that city to your itinerary and break the journey in half.

Florence is one of my favorite cities in Italy! And.... there is so much more to Florence than just art.

If you go there, you must eat gelato at 'Gelateria Vivoli'! It's on a back street near Santa Croce.

My mom & I ate gelato everyday we were in Florence! Don't worry about the calories, you'll walk them off!

Make sure you travel light!

Have a marvelous trip!

Posted by
16788 posts

Riding a high-speed train for 4 hours is not disagreeable to me. You are off your feet, seeing a bit of scenery, and can bring good-quality snacks, books, and enjoy conversation. Even better if you follow Laurel's advice for getting discounted first class tickets.

I also think you have too long in each city, unless you do plan a couple of daytrips from each, such as the suggestions for Orvieto, Ostia Antica, and Padova. Even with those, I would still cut one night from each city and spend them in Siena or Florence.

Posted by
308 posts

Hi everyone,
Thank you for the great replies! I really love this forum, such great, thoughtful people with a wealth of information.
Laurel, thank you for the great suggestion of buying a ticket early and getting detached seats in 1st class. That sounds wonderful. My calendar is marked to buy those tickets asap! I will have to look into cruising the Brenta too.
And thank you to all who suggested a stopover in Florence/Siena but I have a confession to make . . . I have been to both towns and I just didn't like either. I know I am in the extreme minority on this, it is after all one of Italy's crown jewels. But it just didn't "mesh" with me no matter how I tried :( Now for my mom liking Florence, I am afraid she would fall asleep standing up in the Uffizi or the Accademia. She is just not an art person. Kinda like when Nicole P. pointed out the Colosseum to her underwhelmed mom, I would point out the David statue and she would probably say "Why doesn't he have clothes?". I'm still on the fence on taking her to the Borghese because of her lack of interest in art.

Day trips from Rome and Venice are terrific ideas. I thought about the Tivoli and Orvieto. I did not think of Padua! Scrovegni Chapel sounds intriguing!
Btw, my mom saw the Rick Steves show on Venice. She is making my dad measure her kitchen and dining room table for some Burano lace tablecloths ;) Yay!

Posted by
4531 posts

If you do go to Padova, make sure you eat gelato at 'Gelateria Pretto'

and...make sure you convert those table measurements to the metric system.

Have a fun trip!

Posted by
190 posts

I have to agree with the Florence camp. Seeing the original David, the wonderful Rennaissance art, and the Duomo is amazing, and the city is compact and walkable. And I highly recommend at least a day trip to Siena, with one of the most beautiful and unique duomos in Italy. You will get a feel for what your mom likes. (How old is she?) I am in my 60s and in Rome would not want to miss the Galleria Borghese, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Vatican (even though I am not Catholic). The ancient district is awesome, but if she is not a strong walker, she may not enjoy it as much. I love the idea of the down time in the afternoon. In Venice, I adore going to Murano and Burano on the vaporetto.

Funny, I have the opposite challenge next summer, when we will take our two daughters and their husbands (all in their 40s) to Italy for their first visits, each couple separately. They all say exactly what your mom says, "Whatever you want to do is fine with us." It is interesting that all have said they are not particularly interested in the Vatican, but I am insisting on that. They just won't get it until they see it! We will take early morning tours so they can actually see the Sistine Chapel! The trip we have is very aggressive. The first pair will start in Venice, work toward Rome with a stop in Florence and Siena. Then we have a 10 day cruise in Greece and Italy, with a day in Ephesus. It begins and ends in Rome, so their holiday will end with a few days there. The second couple flys into Rome, and goes on the opposite tour, with their cruise starting in Venice and ending in Barcelona. Each couple as very different styles, each will have a unique 3 weeks in many of the same places. My husband and I will be in Europe for six weeks, and THEY will have to keep up with US!

Have fun planning.

Jan

Posted by
2235 posts

Hello again Jackie, and especially Jan,

Jan, I have just received this morning the startling news that I am your long-lost brother! Ain't that something? I would love to get to know my new family, so will you please embrace this exciting news and take me along for all six of your weeks in Europe? I will be OK with whatever you plan, can pack light, and love to walk. I'm very easy-going, in fact my motto is "when in doubt, have a gelato!" Of course, important thing will be getting to know my wonderful new family!

And, happy new year to all, may your 2015 Include plenty of joyous travel!

Larry

Posted by
4531 posts

To Larry,

You're too funny!

I'm sure you're not the only one who wants to be part of Jan's family!

To Jan,

I'd love to come along too! I'm also easy going, love to walk and... I could live on gelato for all 6 weeks!

To Jackie & Jan

Have a marvelous trip!!!

Posted by
339 posts

I'm sure you know this but arrange the time you have in Rome around the Wednesday audience with the Pope and his Sunday appearance at noon. And hopefully he won't be traveling during your visit. We did both when we were there a few months ago and lucked out on weather as well.

Posted by
308 posts

Hi Clare,
Yes thank you for the reminder about the Audience with the Pope. Did you attend and if so, did you get seats yourselves or attend the Audience with a tour company directing you to your seats? Just wondering how crazy it gets. From what I gather, Papa Francesco has rock star status and we should expect to get in line at 630 am for a decent seat along the perimeters for the good photo op. If we go though City Wonders, we meet at 730 am and the tour guide gives us a brief history of the Popes and then helps us with seats for $40/person. I'm leaning towards the City Wonders option as it's later in the morning and I can't imagine doing a "polite" dash to seats with my 75 year old mom in tow.

Posted by
339 posts

We got tickets through our bishop at home. We requested them through our pastor, he faxed them to Rome and we picked them up Tuesday afternoon at the North American Pontifical College. They recommended we get in line at 6 AM. We walked from Trastevere and arrived at 6:30 and waited in line. We got good seats. There were tour groups that were saving big blocks of seats as well. We are in our 60's and there were lots of people of all ages. Binoculars would be helpful or a camera with a long lens. Or if you have items to be blessed, bring them with you. Tickets are always free.

The Sunday appearance was more casual. No tickets needed. We just assembled in the square until noon when he came out. Not quite so many people. There are big screens all around the square. A bit like a rock concert atmosphere but pretty cool to be there.

Posted by
484 posts

Hi Jackie,
We spent 4 nights in Venice and found it to be 1 night too many. Be sure to see San Marco and Doge's Palace/Correr museum. You can do Doge's Palace on your own. However, a tour may be more informative and enjoyable. Rome has a lot to offer. After 5 nights, you may get a bit "tired" of Rome. I recommend, as many others above, that you add a third place to your trip. You can consider Assisi if your mom appreciates nature, St. Francis and Clare, and hiking. There are easy train connections between Assisi, Rome and Florence. I really enjoyed Florence. If your mom is not into art - there are churches and Medici Palace and Galileo museum to explore. Florence is a great place to stroll around. Much to see. Well worth 2-3 nights. More if you like Art.

Posted by
390 posts

Its my mother's birthday on May 10th too! But we are arriving in Italy on that day......so we will be on a train from Rome to Salerno and then enjoying the night :)

The only tip I would have would be to work the train trip in a time where you could have enjoyable meals, like not too late in the evening when you might skip a nice dinner, or over lunchtime and you would have to scrape for snacks until dinner....

but about Florence, it is SO much more than the art.....I have seen plenty of people that have enjoyed Florence GREATLY by not even setting foot in an art museum.....

Maybe you could choose Siena? or Lucca? You can make great Tuscan day trips from basing in those places.....

Posted by
3838 posts

I also purchased train tix in advance for our Rome to Venice leg...We went about 11am, which gave us time to get up and get to the train stn without having to rush around - or conversely - if you go too late, you'll probably have to store your bags at the stn until your train leaves. And the wonderful thing about the Rome train stn - there are a few places you can pick up food - we went into a little grocery type store and picked up sandwiches, potato chips and some sweets for the journey, and got a soda on the train.

Not sure if you have looked into the vaporetto passes in Venice - they are getting more expensive, but we always get more then our use out of them considering a single ride is about 7.50 euro I think. Our 3 days passes were 40-45 euro. You can purchase those at kiosks outside the train stn. Don't forget to 'get lost' in Venice - especially during the busiest part of the afternoon - avoid Rialto and San Marco from about 11am-5pm and go to the quieter parts of the city...Venice is my heart and I most enjoyed getting up at 7am and heading to San Marco and enjoying it crowd free...

(And just want to mention - after we got home my mom was going to have me print our a bunch of photos from the trip, but I was able to put her off until Xmas and did up a photobook for her complete with what we did each day - she loved it and was so surprised - I used photobook Canada, but there are probably American companies - just a lovely remembrance of our holiday together)

Posted by
308 posts

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to give you an update on our travel plans. I bit the bullet and we are staying 3 nights/2days in Florence. After reading all the great posts, I realized this is really a trip for my mom and she should see Florence, especially since it fits so easily into our itinerary. Thank you for the gentle nudging to spend a few days in Florence, in spite of my general "meh" about it. Who knows, I may change my mind and fall in love with it this time! I will be in Italy in any case, what is there to complain about? :D

Thank you to all for the recommendations and advice on Rome, Florence and Venice.

Katherine, Happy Birthday to your mom!

Posted by
484 posts

For Florence, check out Hotel Pensione Pendini. We stayed there last June and really liked it. Request a quiet room. Lovely breakfast room with breakfast included, friendly staff, recently renovated, great central location. Puts you smack-dab in the middle of Florence and close to most sites. Good place for a mid-day break.

Posted by
1501 posts

In Venice I absolutely loved Hotel Bel Sito and Berlino. Used to be in the Rick Steves book. On a nice quiet piazza, very close to St. Mark's without the crazy prices. Sweet Hotel staff, nice rooms elevator, lovely breakfast!