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Rome 2011

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Dayton, Ohio
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Rome 2011

I am in the early planning stages of a trip to Italy for my family of four in June 2011. My husband and I have been to Tuscany and stayed in Pisa, Florence and Lucca, traveling to each by train. My sons really want to go to Rome so we are planning to fly into Rome rather than Pisa on this trip. We would also like to return to Lucca (our favorite city on our last visit) and try to get to some Tuscan hill towns as we ran out of time on our first trip.

My questions are: Should we make Rome our home base and just plan day trips? Is it easier to rent a car or travel by train (we had no problems with the trains previously other than hauling our luggage as we were actually changing hotels as well)? If we decide to stay in Lucca as well as Rome, how many days do we need in Rome? I'm also looking for suggestions on lodging for two adults and two teenage boys.

Thanks so much TA family, you were so helpful in planning my first trip to Italy!!!

Los Angeles
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1. Re: Rome 2011

How long will you have? 5 days for me on my first trip to Rome was not nearly enough, I'm currently planning to stay 6 more days next May and I'm sure that won't be enough either.

If you want to see the smaller towns in tuscany, then you will want a car, which you can rent in places that will help you avoid driving in Rome (something you'd have to pay me a lot of money to do!). Driving in Tuscany is actually quite enjoyable. You could always base in Lucca and explore by car that way, thus avoiding moving around too much.

could you fly in to Rome and out of Pisa? that would reduce backtracking

Pittsburgh...
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2. Re: Rome 2011

Rome is an amazing place, with a multitude of things to see and do. How long to spend there depends on what you want do and what your travel style is. If you're active and like to pack as much into a day as possible, you can actually hit a lot of the main tourist sights in three good, full days, especially if you do some advance planning on crowd avoidance. If you have a more leisurely style, or have a deeper interest in art or history, obviously you'd need more time. What sights would you like to include?

As far as lodging recommendations, it would be helpful to know what budget range you'd like. Also, would do you want to book two rooms or would you prefer one quad?

With four people it might make financial sense for you to rent a car to go to Tuscany, especially if you plan on traveling around a bit. Multiplying the per person train fare by 4 is often more expensive than renting a car and buying fuel. You can check train fares at the Trenitalia website and compare them to car rental fees. I've usually found the best rates on car rentals at the Europecar or Auto Europe websites.

Rome, Italy
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3. Re: Rome 2011

Hi! as Bkb said, i think is better to rent a car if you're four or more people, specially beacuse in this way you can visit also other nice small town between Rome and Tuscany (like Viterbo, Orvieto, Arezzo, ect). You had to consider that between Lucca and Rome there's no direct train (you have to change at Florence).

Dayton, Ohio
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4. Re: Rome 2011

Thanks for the input; please keep the suggestions coming.

Our budget is flexible; I'd rather pay more to ensure a nice room but do not want to go crazy. I'm not yet sure about two rooms vs. a quad. I'm hoping for some advice here. I imagine we will stay a week to ten days. Our last trip was 7 days and we would have liked to have stayed a couple more.

I have yet to check airline prices but am willing to fly into/out of Pisa or Rome. We could start in Rome and end in Lucca or vice versa. It sounds like we should think about car rental to get from one place to another. I have no experience with this either.

Pittsburgh...
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5. Re: Rome 2011

Car rental is easy. All the companies you're familiar with (Avis, Hertz, etc.) rent cars in Italy. We've consistently found the best rates at Auto Europe or Europe Car. We've rented through both with no problems. You can book over the phone or online. It makes sense to compare rates at several companies to insure you get the best deal.

If you want a GPS they're available at additional cost. Sometimes, though, the companies offer free GPS as a special so it makes sense to book during one of these promotions. If you don't see any freebies offered it doesn't hurt to ask when the next GPS promo will run.

To drive in Italy you'll need to take your US driver's license as well as an International Driver's License, which basically translates your license into several languages. These can be obtained at AAA offices for $25 or $30.

Two things to keep in mind. Most cars in Italy are manual transmissions. You can reserve an automatic if you require one, but the rate will be much higher. If you do want an automatic you might want to reserve it as early as possible because availability can be limited. Second, the trunk space is typically smaller than in American cars so be sure you know the size of the trunk and how many suitcases it will hold. This is another reason to pack light!

You'll hear a lot about the high cost of fuel in Italy. We've found the cost offset by the fact that cars there generally get better gas mileage than we do here. So, the cost of fuel really shouldn't be a worry.

As far as lodging, Quad or family rooms will be in shorter supply than double rooms. They just aren't as common. When booking remember that room size in many Italian hotels is small so four people may be more crowded in one room there than they would be in the US. This goes for bathroom size as well. In some older or less expensive places hot water may run out before 4 people can shower. But those are generalizations and won't be true everywhere. On the other hand, Quad room may also cost less, sometimes significantly so, than two doubles.

These are some Hotels I know of in Rome that have quad rooms. Hotel Alimandi Vaticano and Hotel Alimandi Tunisi, both in the Vatican museum area. Hotel Hibernia in the Campidoglio area, Hotel Torre Argentina in the Piazza Navona area and Hotel Colosseum in the Forum area. I haven't stayed in any of them myself so I can't recommend them. I just know they have quad rooms and might be a good starting point for your hotel search.

With 4 you might also want to consider a B&B or even an apartment rental.

St Paul, MN
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6. Re: Rome 2011

Rome has a lot to see and do. I've been on 4 trips to Rome for 10-12 days each and the only day trips I took were to ostia Antica. if you are on a budget and staying for only 7 days, you should jsut visit Rome, take public transport and stay in an apt. Staying in an Apt is more work than a hotle but opnce3 your travel party size reaches 3, it's a lot cheaper.

Roma
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7. Re: Rome 2011

I think the best would be landing in Rome, staying 5-6 days in Rome, then going to Pisa (the train transfert Rome-Pisa is easy) and using Pisa as base to see Tuscany: Lucca and I would add Siena, which seemingly you don't know yet but is really amazing. Both Lucca and Siena are easy to reach from Pisa by regional train, on the contrary going there from Rome would be long and difficult. You wouldn't need hired cars, just trains. At the end you could leave from Pisa Airport, or eventually come back to Rome just to fly away.

Vienna, Austria
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8. Re: Rome 2011

I agree with the last suggestion - spend 5-6 days in Rome, then take the train. You could rent a car, but you are already familiar with trains in Italy and probably like it.

5-6 days in Rome would give you enough time to appreciate the city without pushing it too hard. I know a few hotels with quads around the Termini station, but for this period of stay it is better to be more central. Hotel Verona (http://www.hotelveronaroma.com) is a mid-range/budget hotel which has quadruple rooms - it is still not in the very center, but a short stroll away. Of course, if you go for two doubles/twins, you will have more choices.

You could also consider renting an apartment. The Dolce Vita Residence (www.hoteldolcevitarome.com) has been recommended, they have different type holiday apartments for shorter stay.

Dayton, Ohio
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9. Re: Rome 2011

Thanks again, the input is greatly appreciated. I've got many decisions to make, starting with the dates of travel. We were looking at early June but after looking at airfares, I am considering spring break instead. For us, that would be the last week in March/first of April. Any thoughts on travel at that time (I've looked at average temps and think it might be a bit chilly).

I'm leaning toward spending most of our time in Rome and not renting a car. We did spend one night in Pisa on our last trip and were glad it was only one. We spent four nights in Florence and two in Lucca. As much as we loved Florence, we think Lucca is the place we'd like to return to with our children. Siena was also a thought for a day trip. So... I'm thinking about 4 nights in Rome and 3 in Lucca, with a day trip to Siena. I've just started looking into hotels and apartments. We'd rather not rent a car unless we have to but it sounds like getting from Rome to Lucca is a bit complicated?

Thanks again; I need to start making some decisions so I greatly appreciate the help!

Dayton, Ohio
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92 posts
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10. Re: Rome 2011

A little something more about how we travel... we like to walk. On our last visit, we got up each morning (in both Florence and Lucca) and walked all day. We don't want to stay someplace where we have to drive or take a bus every day to see the sites.