Q. Mindy M. of Pflugerville, Texas and her husband want ideas for visiting Italy on the cheap with their 4-year-old in June.
A. We’re happy to help plan a 9-day trip to Italy. FTF families love Italy and if you want to do some country-wide research, their posts about the country can be seen in FTF’s Italy file.
But before you imagine seeing the whole country with a preschooler, you may want to limit your travel to stated first choices: Rome and Sicily. Since you’re traveling in June, we would suggest you start in Rome for sightseeing, then go to Sicily at the end of your visit when the beach will be a bit warmer.
The city of Rome is just too big for a toddler to walk everywhere, so you will have to limit the sights you plan to get to. You can read about Family Activities in this overview of Rome for first-time visitors.
One of the best things about Rome is the street life. Pick one main attraction each day, like the Colosseum, then just plan to hang out there, watch people go by, eat gelato. (The Vatican, in contrast, is so crowded and stuffy that we think you should avoid it.)
After 4 exciting days in Rome you will be ready for a quieter stop. You can take a train or fly between Rome and Sicily, depending on your mood and budget. Your daughter would surely love the train trip, because you leave Rome on a good, fast train and take it to the port near Reggio Calabria in the south. The train is loaded onto a barge for the first crossing, then back onto tracks to cross the island, as the station is in Palermo.
It can take more than 10 hours to accomplish this, effectively using up one of your sightseeing days, but it would be fun for your daughter, and the fare for all 3 of you would be less than 1 plane ticket. The flight, by the way, is about an hour and there are frequent planes.
For Sicily, this article: “A Home of Your Own In Italy” suggests many companies that rent furnished flats or rooms in B&Bs and farmhouses around the country.
It’s pretty economical compared to hotels (hotel rooms are very small in Europe and the included ‘breakfast’ is skimpy by U.S. standards), and your daughter will feel more at home in a small, typically family-run, place.
As for Venice and Pisa, which you’ve asked about — we think they’re too much trouble to get to, unless you want to skip Sicily and just go from Rome by train. To appreciate Venice you will have to walk and take boats, wonderful but maybe tiring with your daughter.
Pisa is best seen with a rental car, which will allow you to stop where you’d like and admire the surrounding Tuscan countryside. Both cities (and some hotels) are covered in separate stories by Family Travel Forum families, so please take a look and see what interests you.
Ciao and keep in touch so we hear about where you went!
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