This trip started to develop right around Christmas time and the request of a pasta maker as a gift. The girls love to cook and they’d read the book Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat and seen the PBS (correction Netflix) episodes of the same name. They knew we were always ready for a European trip and they’d never been to Italy.
As soon as they’d committed to the trip we booked airfares and made a list of potential places they might like to see and activities to do in each city. We put an asterisk beside the things we needed to book ahead of time and gave them the list to look over and add to.
We gave them lots of choices and involved them in much of the decision making. We sent them links to 3 apartments in each of the Italian cities and said they could choose the apartment where they’d like to stay. We sent them links to cooking classes in each city and let them decide which classes they’d like to take. It was difficult finding a class in Paris that would take a 14 year old by herself, the most accomplished of the two. But with more recommendations from forum members and more emails to Paris we found a perfect fit, Cook’n With Class.
For birthdays in the spring we gave them 3 coupons each for 1. Clothes shopping 2. More adventures beyond our list 3. Cooking tools or other souvenirs. This way they had money available for extra things as they needed and became their own bankers by turning in coupons for Euros as we traveled.
Two weeks before we left our oldest granddaughter asked if we could send her a checkable packing list. She had already told us that they were going to take their carry-on bags and a small backpack. These girls had it down. They’ve traveled with us and their parents twice to Europe and once with just their mom.
We left in July for Italy and spent 4 nights in Florence. The girls were super excited to be there. We’d booked an apartment right by the left transept of the Duomo. Once they saw that landmark they were always able to navigate around Florence easily and find their way home. They took 2 cooking classes at MaMa Florence and loved the chef and experience. One of the classes involved a 1h bike ride followed by the cooking class. We went to the Bargello and Galileo museums and Santa Croce. Even though it was 100° when we were in Florence they coped really well. They were also invaluable in searching for good restaurants and making reservations. I had a short list, our rental host had suggestions and the girls found more online. We had some amazing meals not to mention carefully vetted gelato. We traveled completely by train between cities in Italy with tickets purchased ahead of time.
In Venice the weather was cooler (high 80s-90s) but very humid. We were glad to have air conditioning in all of our accommodation. We stayed for 5 nights right on the Cannaregio canal. On our second day it rained during the day but we decided to go to St. Mark Square in the evening when the rain stopped. We experienced our first ever acqua alta and there were no elevated walkways. The water was just below my knees in the lowest point right in front of the basilica. Since only one of us had waterproof shoes we wandered back to our apartment and had a do over the next evening. The girls took their rescheduled (storm related) rowing lesson from Row Venice that morning and loved it. Normally we visit Murano and Burano on the same day but the girls wanted to see everything and we had to spread these outings out over 2 days. We’d bought the Rolling Venice cards (kid fares) for the girls which gave them unlimited vaporetto rides. Venice was the only city where navigating around by foot was tricky but usually fun. We found some great restaurants and bakeries in our Cannaregio neighborhood.