I am fulfilling a dream and taking my 17 year old daughter to Italy the second week in may. We are flying into bologna and taking the train to Florence where we have a tentative hotel reservation,(unless I do something different). We have the hotel in Florence for 9 nights as a base and plan to day trip to Rome where the 2 major things for us would be the colosseum and the vatican. we are on a budget and want to enjoy the experience without trying to see too much and not really enjoy ourselves. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!!
Ok, I have the places to stay, 3 nights in Rome, 2 in Siena, 3 nights in florence and then we will "wing it" in or near bologna the night before we go back home. I am so grateful for the advice as it makes much more sense. My plane tickets are already paid for but this plan seems to work for us. Any other tips or info you can give is much appreciated as well. I am sooo excited!!
Do you have a couple of good guidebooks? I would recommend the RS books (of course) and the Eyewitness Travel guide books as a nice pair.
Sorry, not a good idea at all. Stay in Florence for 3 days and take the train to Rome and stay there for 3 days. Assuming that your return flight is out of Bologne, take the train the night before your flight home.
I completely agree with Bob that this "base" idea is not a good plan. You will run out of things to do in Florence and will spend a lot of time on trains goin gback and forth, doing daytrips to other places. We had friends who tried this last year, 6 nights in Florence and daytripping around and they were exhausted! Besides, Rome is worth much more than a daytrip. Also, you will pay more for lodging in Florence than comparable places in smaller town, at least from our experience. Try something like 3 nights Florence, 3 in Roms, 2 in a smaller town (Siena comes to mind-check out photos and see how beautiful it is) and your laast night in Balogna if there is where your return flight originates. Or if that flight is in th eafternoon you could spend the last nigh tin Verona, another very pretty city.
I wouldn't do Rome as a day trip. I'd head to Rome first and spend at least 3 days and then train back to Florence for the remainder fo the trip.
Robin, Congratulations on your trip and your dream. Your daughter is one lucky girl. She must be really special. I wouldn't suggest doing what you are suggesting. Trying to do the Vatican (Basilica - Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel - climb the dome (what else are 17 year olds good for?)) will pretty much take a full day, and will be very tiring both for you and her. The Colosseum and ancient Rome is over half a day, towards another full one. Florence, lovely as she is, and with SO much art, is overkill if you are there for 9 days. Can I respectfully suggest you have a scrounge round for inexpensive accommodation in Rome - plenty of monasteries and hostels if you can't find a hotel to suit, and divide your time about equally between the two cities. After all, the two of you will both want to throw a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, won't you - otherwise you won't go back - and that really is best done after dark. Then there's the Gelato.... I will be back in Rome in (counting down) 35 days!!
So far based on the responses, I just booked a hotel in Rome as my first spot and we will be there for 3 nights and 4 days. I totally agree, I need to see Rome for more than a day! Keep the advice coming it is great!!!
Robin, It's great to hear that you've revised your Itinerary and will be spending some time in Rome. As the others have said, Rome absolutely deserves more than a day trip! I'm assuming you've already booked your flights, so won't be able to use open-jaw flights? Although I'm getting into the discussion a bit "late", my suggestion would have been to spend 3 days in Florence, 2 days in Siena and the remainder in Rome. These times are approximate and of course would have to be adjusted to fit your flights. If you decide to add Siena, the best travel method from Florence is by Bus, and from Siena to Rome by train (IMO). I'd suggest having a look at the "Italy" guidebook to plan efficient sightseeing in each location. The book is a wealth of information! Happy travels!
Glad you are staying in Rome. Siena is nice but I would add Orvieto. Our daughters are in their twenties and they love it there
Robin, "Siena is nice but I would add Orvieto" With only nine days split between Florence, Siena, Rome and one night in Bologna prior to your flight home, you don't have time to add Orvieto. You would have to choose between Siena and Orvieto, and I believe Siena is a more appropriate choice in this case. I can't recall if you mentioned whether this is the first time in Italy for both of you? Have you read the Italy Guidebook? If not, one important point to mention is to validate (time & date stamp) your rail or Bus tickets in the yellow machine prior to boarding. If the Conductor finds the tickets haven't been validated, you may face hefty fines! Of course, be sure to heed the "usual" warnings about wearing a Money Belt and avoiding the scammers. The "riskiest" locations tend to be those that are most crowded (ie: the notorious #64 Bus in Rome or on the Metro). Be especially vigilant there! Cheers!
Yes, this is my first trip and I have some guidebooks and will just do Sienna, Rome and Florence. I have heard about being vigilant with my belongings,(such as using a money belt). I am wondering if I should even carry a shoulder bag when I am seeing sights in Rome or just have the money belt and that is it. Thanks for the advice by the way!!
Another choice for guidebooks (especially for your daughter) is Lonely Planet. I always carry a cross-body bag (camera, map, water bottle, etc.). Sounds like a great plan!
I would recommend the San Donato in Bologna for your last night. Great hotel and good taxi service to the airport. I love Siena. It's one of my favorite cities. Have a wonderful trip! It will be a trip of a lifetime for you and your daughter!
Your new itinerary looks great. Just enough time in each location. In ref to the shoulder bag, it's a great idea for holding items such as guide books, train schedules, etc. I keep all valuables in my money belt, i.e., money, ATM/credit cards, passport. My husband will take a small backpack for lightweight jackets, water, snacks, cameras, etc. On the subways or crowded streets, he will carry it on the front for safety. I research and printout all my train schedules before I leave. I use the Deutsche Bahn site which you can find under "Favorite Links" on this website. I like to take the schedules with me. The schedule will give you a list of trains at different times. You want to have options just in case you sleep in. If you click on the left arrow on the schedule, you will get a complete listing of all stops the train makes which helps to know the stop before yours. Since your daughter is 17, always inquire for student prices at museums, trains, etc. Have a great trip making lifetime memories with your daughter, I did!
I am so grateful for all of the responses I have received, they are so helpful!!
I took my wife and her mother to Italy a few years ago and agree with other responses that you should rework your trip to get the most out of it. We had an open jaw ticket into Rome (2 1/2 days) and out of Paris (2 1/2 days) and the rest in Tuscany. We had an apartment for five nights in Florence and saw everything we wanted to in three days. The other two included a long day by train to the Cinque Terre because we were going there later, and a Grayline all day bus tour to San Gimignano and Siena which included lunch and was great. Unless you've been to Rome before you are really short-changing yourself and your daughter. You need at least three days there because there is so much more to see and do that the two places you mentioned. Why are you flying into Bologna when there are so many less expensive places to arrive, unless that's where you want to start? Into Rome for a few days and then take the train to Florence will be the most efficient use of your time. Get a two-day pass for the Hop On Hop Off bus and you can see all the sights in two days, get off at any one that interests you and spend as much or as little time there as you like. It also works well as a taxi instead of hiring a taxi. One really important piece of advice. Make sure you and your daughter climb to the top of the Duomo, a view of Florence and Tuscany to die for. Good Luck.
I took my daughter to Rome a few years ago. Just the two of us, mom and daughter. I booked a trip on United that included the air and hotel for a fantastic price. while the hotel wasn't convenient to most of the sites, we learned to take the Metro and enjoyed each day there. We had 5 nights. We had no option to change 'base', but Rome worked out great. We did 3 full days in Rome, then spent one day going to Orvieto, and one day going to Ostia Antica. We thought about a day trip to Florence, but too much train travel for the amount of time we could be there...we figured "next" time.
This fit our tight budget perfectly. We splurged on some ceramics in Orvieto. We did research on the internet and had RS book with us. I let my daughter determine what she wanted to see, this trip was all about her experience in Italy. We traveled in early November and that was a great time. Early May is my next favorite. The only thing we did for sure was book a tour of the Vatican Museum with Angel tours before we left the US. I agree that you shouldn't base in Florence for the majority of the time, there isn't enough there to keep you busy. Rome has more, especially if you take some side trips via train to see other smaller towns. Split your time between Rome and Florence, and a night or two in Bologna is OK too, make sure you go to the top of the leaning tower in Bologna! you could also do a side trip from Bologna to Verona...I did that with my husband. Go see the other coloseum and Juliet's balcony. It's not a bad day trip. Actually, from Bologna you could do a trip to Venice...we did it from Florence! long train ride, not a lot of time in Venice, but it was really a fun day... So much to do, and you have 9 nights. That's a lot of time if you keep it to the 3 towns.
Stay in Bologna the night before you depart. Bologna has some of the best food and the town center is charming.
I also have another question....My flight leaves out of bologna at 7 a.m. to come back to the states. How much time do I need at the airport? Also, are the hotels with shuttle service available that early or should I call a cab?
Robin, for an international flight, I would arrive at the airport two hours before departure. There is a Best Western hotel 3 km from the airport. Looking at their website, I could not determine whether they have a free shuttle to the airport. You might want to send them an e-mail. I just checked dates in May, and it looked like two single beds w/o breakfast is 50 euros. This hotel chain in Europe is of a higher quality than in the States. I would not hesitate to stay there.
Wow! Thank you Denise for all of your helpful input! I will look into that right away!!
While in Rome visit the Borghese gallery. Get reservations. It's not far from the Spanish Steps and Via Venuto which you might also like to see
Robin, What a wonderful gift you're giving your daughter! We are taking our 3 daughters in late May. Would love for your to post your best/worst experiences if you wouldn't mind. Have a great time!
" My flight leaves out of bologna at 7 a.m " Minimum of 2 1/2 hours before- 4:30 am (ouch!) Sleep on the plane & dream of your next trip back to Italy.
Bob, I certainly will sleep! My question is though... is it hard to get a bus from the hotel that early in the morning? I am considering just going the airport in the late evening and hanging out there until my flight if need be.
The Bologna airport is dinky. My guess that at 4:30 or 5 am, there may not be anybody there. Ask your hotel how early they'd suggest you be at the airport. And as I recall, the trip between downtown Bologna and the airport is quick and fast; I would suggest that you take a cab at that hour. Also, really, I wouldn't spend the last precious night of your wonderful journey at an airport hotel. You can always sleep on the plane. And really, you don't want to spend the night at the airport, and really, no need. While Rome and Florence and Venice, ok almost all of Italy, is great, I just love Bologna. It's a perfect small size, but still lots to see and do, fantastic food, and great piazzas and cafes for people-watching with a glass of wine in hand. When we took our then-10yo daughter to Italy for the first time, she loved the big cities, but really enjoyed the non-touristy feel of Bologna.