Archived Q&A and Reviews
I have decided on a whim to travel to Italy for a few days before a conference in Germany in early October. This will be my very first time there. I will be flying to Florence, arriving there on a Thursday afternoon and staying through Monday. I have 4 and 1/2 days there. Since this is my first time, I am eager to see as much as possible. Is it a good idea to catch a train to a different city so that I can see some of the Tuscan countryside? If so, what would you recommend? Pisa? Siena? Or maybe some village nearby? Or should I stay put in Florence if I only have those few days? Also, any recommendations for a clean place to stay for under $100 a night? Gracie!
I'm always in the minority on this one (at least compared to other Americans) but I lived and worked in Italy for a number of years, living and traveling all over the country. Florence is OK but the rest of Tuscany is so under-rated I prefer to spend my time in a place like Siena rather than battle the all-year around crowds in Florence. For me Florence was worth it only on someone else's dime and in low season (which is basically the occasional rainy Monday in the winter).
My two cents: I would spend one day in Florence to see the Uffizi, the Battista and spend the rest of the time in Siena. Rick Steeves has a pretty good Italy book. (We went back to Italy last summer and his book was a great guide to restaurants and lodging). You can also look on VRBO for lodging. We went were a family, so that made more sense for us - you might just want to look into alberghi (hotels) or B
Or if you want the ''real'' Italian experience, go to one of the hill towns and stay there the whole time. (after your one day at the Uffizi, of course). just my biased opinion! janine
What a great decision! I spent four days in Florence and will always remember them! Avoid Pisa. It is a tourist trap. Siena is lovely, and works perfectly for a day trip. Florence has enough to occupy you for the other days, especially if you take a bus to Fiasole in the hills above Florence. I highly recommend Rick Steves' Italy, especially for the hotels (pensiones) and the Places to Go recommendations. The restaurant recs - not so much. (Unless you want to be eating with a roomful of Americans with Rick Steves books!) have a great time! Kat
We are going to Sorrento and Florence in March for a week each with another family. There will be 4 adults and 2 toddlers. Anyone have recommendations for places to stay that are family friendly? We will probably spend quite a bit of time at the villa/apartment so want a nice place with a full kitchen and at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. (The archive for Florence was for hotels.) Thanks! anon
We stayed near Sorrento in a lovely villa 2 years ago. I found the place on a website called rentvillas.com. You can contact the owners via e.mail and work out the logistics once you choose a place. Lots of details and pics given on each villa. The place we stayed at was overlooking and had private access to a beach, it had 3 bedrooms/4 baths with wonderful gardens. Most of the places we considered were near whatever given town but not IN town. We did alot of walking and chose not to rent a car. I would recommend a car if you have kids and plan to do alot of sight seeing in and around the Amalfi Coast. I thing it cost $1200.00 for a week. Have fun. kristi
My husband and I and our two kids just spent part of my maternity leave in Florence with our 2.5 year old and 3 month old baby (crazy?, yes, but also wonderful). The apartment we stayed in would be too small for you, but I can recommend an agency. We worked with a woman named Adriana at an agency called Tuscan Feeling. You can find her contact info at www.tuscanfeeling.it. She was soooo nice, very helpful, very professional, and she speaks English quite well. If you contact her, tell her that you got her name from Kim and Adrian. Otherwise, I found her just by searching the web for apartment rentals in Florence; there are many sites and agencies. My unsolicited advice is that you think carefully about whether you want to be in the City (Florence), or out in the country. Driving in Florence is not easy. Basically you have to park on the edge of the center, and then walk in. If you really want to take in the City (and there is so much to see and explore), I suggest that you just prepare for an urban experience, and rent in the City. You will have so much more time to see everything, and the you will get the full feeling and flavor of that magnificant place. On the other hand, if you really want more of a just-sit-in-the-Italian-sunshine-and-relax trip, with only a few brief forays into the City, then rent in the countryside. We have done both, and I recommend both; it is just hard to combine them, especially only in one week. Have a great trip. If you want any other info (like where the playgrounds are in Florence), you can email me directly. xia
We are taking our 2 boys to Florence, Italy this summer for 2 weeks and staying in an apartment rather than a hotel. The younger one will be just over a year old and probably very mobile if he continues in his present path. Does anyone know of a business in Florence where we can rent a crib for the 2 weeks that we are there? We do not co-sleep with either of our children, and the beds are only doubles. Besides co-sleeping with a jet-lagged, restless child seems not likely to be very restful. I would appreciate any other suggestions people have for how to manage this issue. Happy Traveler
Check out http://www.babysaway.com/. They only rent baby supplies in US, but they may know of international organizations who do same overseas... Monique
If you are renting the apartment from an agancy, you may want to check with them. We spent a couple of weeks in Rome this past Fall, and our apartment rental agency arranged everything: apartment, crib, airport transfer, etc. Enjoy your time in Italy! loved roma
We stayed here. It's quite nice and central (a few blocks from the Duomo). I think it was more in the $150 a night range, though.
Name : Hotel Casci Address : Via Cavour 13 50129 Firenze Email : casci [at] italyhotel.com Fax n. : 055-2396461 Phone n. : 055-211686
We researched and booked our Italy hotels through the Internet using these two sites:
- http://www.travel-italy.com It's really easy to make reservations this way, and you can also look at pictures of the rooms, etc. Dana
We were quite pleased with our stay at this hotel. It was listed in several guide books as well as this online reference (great for hotels throughout Italy): http://www.italyhotel.com
Hotel Cimabue - Via B. Lupi, 7, Firenze Email: cimabue [at] italyhotel.com WWW: http://www.italyhotel.com/firenze/cimabue/ Fax n.: 055-475601 Phone n.: 055-471989
Hotel Porto Rosso...simply wonderful, like going back in time. I have no idea of the price. The rooms are small but it is the best! Poregan1
We liked our stay at the villa carlotta.which is near the Boboli gardens, so not in the center of the city but easy and pleasant walk to all the sites. It's a modernized 19th century palazzo so sound travels...but we had no problems. A 15-20min bus/taxi ride away from town we stayed at pensione bencista in Fiesole which we loved. Both are decribed in the book Access Florence and Venice. O.
We made a three-month trip to Italy with our 18-month old several years ago, and are now getting ready for a summer trip back with TWO little girls, 4 and 6. And it has been and will be a wonderful experience, so don't have any doubts about the wisdom of your plan! We stayed in Fiesole, a short bus ride outside Florence. There are a number of pensiones in the village, and in October, you should have no trouble finding a reasonable and attractive place,even without reservations. If you plan to stay a week or more, and would like to nail down an apartment or villa ahead of time, try looking through www.vrbo.com, a site that lists Villas for Rent By Owner; lots of nice places, at prices that can make the trip affordable. Buon viaggio! Steven
My husband and I were in Cinque Terre (which includes Vernazza) about 3 years ago, before the birth of our daughter. I can't tell you enough how much we enjoyed that area. In fact we recently we're planning to head back there with our 2 year old, but cancelled only because we didn't want to make the transatlantic trip with a restless 2 year old. Anyway, Cinque Terre is fantastic. It's so beautiful, and the food! The food is out of this world! We stayed in an apartment in Vernazza that cost us about $60/night. Monterosso (which is the town furthest north in Cinque Terre) has more hotels and may be a better place to stay with a youngster as there's a nice beach--something the other four towns lack. A friend of mine recently returned from a trip to Italy and had nothing but good things to say about Sestri Levante (about 45 minutes by train north of Monterosso). Santa Margarita Ligure (just south of Portofino) is also very cute and has a nice beach. I can't say much about driving times, as we only traveled by train when we were there. The train is an excellent mode of transportation for the coastal towns in Liguria as car access can be difficult--I don't think you can even drive into Vernazza (Vernazza is very small). If you want, I can try to find the name of the person we rented the apartment from. Just email me if you want it or want to ask me any more questions about the area. Ciao!--Karyn
My husband and I have taken several medium-term trips to visit Florence over the last 5 years (from 2 weeks to 2 months) and have had to deal with finding an appropriate place to stay. This time we were especially concerned, since we were traveling with our 2-year old. We had such a wonderful experience that I wanted to share it. The agency is called YAIF (Your Agency in Florence); the person we dealt with is Luca. It is a small operation. Luca has a good number of VERY reasonably-priced apartments, is very responsive on email, accepts credit cards (so all transactions can be done on the web), and provided excellent service once we were in Florence (including a cell phone, free of rental charge). The website, www.yaif.it, has lots of information and photos about the apartments that are offered. If anyone would like more information about our experience, feel free to contact me. Miriam