Trip to Italy in June with boys ages 10 and 12

So traveling with children, little different and expensive compared to youth hostels! Three week trip when my husband returns after his year of deployment with the Army. Our reunion tour! We are thinking Rome for 6 nights, renting a car and going to Assisi etc for four days, then Florence for four or five days, then Venice four days. Levanto seems to be too expensive for us, and Lake Como looks too mellow? Maybe Lake Garda? Milan? Flying into Rome, out of Milan, three weeks. Trains except car rental to relax in Assisi area. Any ideas, suggestions and thoughts are so welcome! I am making plans sans husband since he is away. VRBO in Venice booked so far. Please help!!! Levanto? Staying too long in Florence?? Thank you for all suggestions and time!!!

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2208 posts

Hi Julie,
Wonderful way to celebrate the end of his tour. I like that you are not changing locations every 2 or 3 nights. What time of year? If summer, you could go to the Dolomites which is more active than Lago di Como. We were there in July and you can read about it here and here. Seems a long time in museum-oriented Florence for youngsters...or even for me! Love Venice! Going there for the 4th time on Sunday. Laurel

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3344 posts

Your stay in big cities would be excessive by my standards. More than 4 nights in Rome and I would start to get bored. 5 nights (4 full days) would me my limit. Florence and Venice I would stay 3 nights each. You could stay in Florence longer if you used it as a base to visit Tuscany, but you are renting a car to visit Tuscany and Umbria, therefore I would increase the time outside the art cities to visit more of Tuscany and Umbria from a countryside base (with car). Florence and Venice hotels are also pricier, therefore don't stay in town more than you need to.
Dolomites, Lake Garda etc. are great ideas, especially with small kids. Lake Garda has great beaches and Dolomites will give you plenty of hiking opportunities with the kids. At that age kids get bored easily visiting just churches and museums in art cities. Moral of the story, decrease your days in art cities, increase the days for countryside and villages (Tuscany, Umbria), Lakes(Garda and/or Como) and for mountains (Dolomites). That way the trip will be more varied for you and especially the kids. Milan is not worth more than the night before your flight back, or max two nights.

Posted by Linda
Clifton Park, NY
7 posts

I have traveled to Italy many times with children starting with toddlers. (They are now 19 and 25) I would cut down on the city time and spend some time in the country. I would definitely go for an agriturismo-- perhaps one that is especially welcoming to children (even though most are)Activities that they might enjoy are biking, pasta making and then eating it, friendly animals, hiking and of course swimming and relaxing by the pool. You would need a car for that portion of the trip but you could take day trips to pretty towns or nature areas. On one trip we went to the hot springs at Saturnia that my kids loved. And they are FREE!. And since you have a good amt of time, consider something like ItalyFarmStay.com. I have never been, but I am familiar with the area as I have family there. My kids loved hiking up to the local castles and then getting gelato.
I would think that 4 nights in Rome with kids would be enough. I have taken my kids to MANY museums and churches and cultural venues but their best memories are of our time in the country and villages.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

I'm pretty much in agreement with Roberto and Linda. Perhaps use Florence as a base for a day trip by bus to Sienna to mix it up a bit. Jet lag will take some of the shine off Rome for your boys so figure doing less for a day or two. Visit the parks and take a Frisbee (brought from home) to burn off some of that energy. Mix up indoor and outdoor sites. My boys loved Venice (11 and 14 at the time)and especially going to the other islands. Being boys they'd probably enjoy the cemetery island and all tours that include visits to jails etc. (what is that with boys anyway?) Lake Garda is probably a better bet than Lake Como (don't forget the swim trunks). Personally I think Milan would be a bust for a family trip and would just spend the night before the flight. A friend once told me that every time you take a vacation trip you're adding another room to your house of memories. One that can never burn down or be robbed. Our trips to Europe (my kitchen never did get updated, nor come to think of it, much else in our house) but both our sons love to travel Back Door style.

Posted by Julie
Seattle, Washington, USA
10 posts

Thank you so very much for all the suggestions and your time!!! Will redo some of our itinerary based on all these fabulous tips. Grazie mille and Ciao!

Posted by Linda
Clifton Park, NY
7 posts

Whenever we traveled with our kids (which was almost always), I tried to plan some activities with them in mind. In Gubbio, we went up a funivia to a mountain top, in San Gimingnano we attended a Renaissance festival complete with blacksmiths, Merlin the magician, a jousting event GREAT. In Sulmona we saw a procession of lords and ladies and flag twirlers in full medieval regalia,we've been to local town festivals, the weekly mercato, the Galileo museum in Florence where his finger is housed in a glass jar. What 12 year old boy doesn't like that! Italy is full of marvels for kids of all ages including grown ups. I would love to hear what you decide and how it all turns out.
Happy travels

Posted by Chloe
Asnieres sur Vegre, France
48 posts

All of our children loved Rome, as have our grandchildren. They have all returned there many times. That being said, they also enjoyed smaller towns when traveling, especially if we could rent something with a pool. I think that four days in Assisi could be excessive as the sights can be seen in one day.

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1364 posts

Julie, BIG thanks to your entire family for the sacrifices that you have made for our continued freedom. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

Julie... it sounds like a wonderful trip... I agree with a few of the comments about not doing all big cities. It sounds like a nice time when you will want some private family moments. Since this is such a monumental time in your kids lives I would suggest that the boys keep a daily journal. I have taken a number of my grandkids to Europe and always 'require' them to do a journal. It is not elaborate, but more like a trip log where they record what we did that day, where we stayed, memorable meals, and of course, the special moments of the day. With so much going on while traveling it is so easy to forget what you did the day before, so this forces them to write a minimal amount. I made my own journal for them and there are blank pages in the back for additional writing and sketching, etc... and it is their own private journal and does not need to be shared. Now that a few years have passed since some trips it is really fun for them to read their impressions, etc. I am sure no matter where you go they will be happy to be with the family, but lots of the small villages make for some really beautiful, magical moments.

Posted by Julie
Seattle, Washington, USA
10 posts

All of your replies and suggestions are fabulous and so appreciated. Thank you for acknowledging "our" service - we are excited to be reunited - and what a wonderful way to celebrate! Caio!!! Grazie Mille!

Posted by William
aiken, sc, United States
42 posts

wow! awesome. watch the show that Rick Steves did on traveling with kids. you can find it on hulu.com if you dont have them. go much lighter on the big cities. about a week in Rome? I would'nt... not with kids. you gotta hit the Cinque Terre for sure! you will all love it! hit a couple hill towns too. Orvieto is nice and they have a great well you can all go into. If you want to go really far down south near pastum, there are huge caves to walk through. a guide take you through! everyone loves caves. Have a great time. Bill