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Travel Tips: Rome and Tuscany

Jetting off on our hols on Friday and looking for some tips from the always excellent Charlton Life travel experts.

Have a week in an apartment in Rome. Will be doing the obvious things like the Colloseum, Vatican etc. and also a day trip to Pompeii on the train. All advice gratefully received but particularly interested in any lesser known gems we should check out. Will be relying on public transport for this week. Will have my Mum and Dad and our 3 year old daughter with us.

Then we have a week at a Villa in Tuscany near Reggello which is SE of Florence. We’ll spend at least a day in Florence as Mum’s always wanted to visit some art galleries there. It’ll be Mum’s and Mrs Exiled’s birthdays while we’re there too so looking for a nice restaurant, probably in Florence. The Wife would like to do a wine tasting session/tour at a winery - has anyone done a good one or a self guided one? The only organised ones I’ve found online seem a bit overpriced. We’ll have a car for this week so any general suggestions of the best places to visit would be great.

Also quite fancy trying to get kiddo to the beach at somepoint - any good ones?

Lastly, Leaning Tower of Pisa, worth the effort of seeing it or not? I’ve read a lot of opinions it’s a bit underwhelming and the crowds look a bit off putting to me.
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Comments

  • Rimini’s got a nice beach. It was a few years ago that we were last out there but I’d say it’s worth seeing the leaning tower. You pre book time slots to go up it so aren’t waiting around for ages. It’s also worth seeing the dome next to it. Not much else in Pisa though.
  • edited July 2018
    Hi. Spent two summer holidays in Tuscany ten years ago. Stayed south of Pisa. The leaning tower is a must see but go there early in the day to avoid the crowds. Park In the airport multi storey and catch the bus or walk (45 mins). Pisa otherwise is a waste of time. For a decent day out drive to San Giminiano or Volterra, both of which are great. Volterra is less busy. Tuscany is glorious. Just be prepared to travel outside the big tourist areas. Vinci is also a good day out. Visit the Leonardo museum.
  • edited July 2018
    Did Venice - Florence - Tuscany about 25 years ago. Florence was the best city imo. Went to Rome for the day.....Coliseum looks bettet from the outside & The Cistine Chapel was just closing when we got there (4pm ?) which I thought was a bit odd & v. disappointing. Pisa ok but don't remember it being that busy - was a bit meh, as in......ok, its a building that doesn't stand up straight.....next ! At least I can say I've had a Big Mac in London, Paris & Rome.

    Tuscany also very pretty but spent a lot of time in & around the pool of our villa so didn't see a lot of the coutryside. Sam Giaminco (sp?) was nice though.
  • edited July 2018
    Tuscany is just a wonderful part of the World - so many wonderful towns like Siena, Lucca, St Gimignano, Arezzo and of course the beautiful Florence.

    In Florence, take the wife shopping on the Ponte Vecchio - she'll spend hours choosing what she wants and the Uffizi Gallery is the place to take your Mum.

    There are two tourist bus routes around Florence - if you can, take them both. Well worth the money and a great way to see as much as Florence as you can take in. They have headphone guides in English.

    There are dozens and dozens of small Vineyards around Florence where you can taste the various wines for nothing - though they are always grateful if you buy a case or two for cash. Wine choice is fairly limited to Chianti, but seeing as it's superb, that shouldn't be a problem. Look for the 'black cock' signs.

    Pisa is worth it just for the square of miracles. Both the Tower and the Duomo are spectacular and should be on everyone's bucket list. Never had problems parking fairly close to the square. It will also be the nearest you get to a beach, so probably best to spend half a day in Pisa and the other half at the beach.

    You will have a fantastic time - make the most of the food and wine.
  • Another vote for San Giminiano.
  • Double decker big red bus tour, hop on, hop off buses are worth a go around Rome, helps you get your bearings and might show you bits you’d want to visit.
  • edited July 2018
    Napoli is grim, you’ll probably have to change there for the slow train to Pompeii, so don’t bother getting out and looking around.
    Pompeii (and Ercolano) on the other hand are bonkers fascinating. Your 3-yr old won’t appreciate but they’re mind-blowing. Would suggest shelling out €100 or so for a local guide, well worth the moolah...
  • Rome very easy to get about and everything walkable although Vatican a bit further out. ( The vatican gets very crowded and not sure if it's good for a 3 year old. There is so much to see in Rome though. A wonderful Basilica sometimes just seems to appear out of nowhere. Most of these are free as well (donations hinted!).

    Tuscany is wonderful. We did a wine tour but agree it was quite pricey. Many of the wineries do advertise tastings if you just turn up.

    Florence is wonderful city. The Uffizi is an amazing gallery. We took a guided tour (which we booked before we went). Two advantages; firstly they point out the important paintings and the explain what it is about; secondly get you in with minimal queuing. The Accademia is not a big deal; there is an exact replica of Michaelangelo's David just outside the Uffizi.

    For restaurants I would suggest going just south of the river. These are cheaper and probably better than in core of city. We went to 3 as recommended by a local guide on first day we were there. The one that stands out in my mind was Mamma Gina (or something similar). When I say outside the core I am talking less than 100 yards from the main bridge in the city centre.

    Pisa, imho, is a waste of time but Sienna is definitely worth a visit. The most amazing cathedral (whereas Florence is only worth seeing from the outside), with a floor that is stunning as well as everything else. Only downside to Sienna is parking.
    In fact this is something you should be aware of at many of wonderful towns scattered around Tuscany; most are car free which is great but needs a walk (generally uphill!) from the car park.

    Enjoy!
  • I quite liked the faded beauty of Naples - one day will be the next Barcelona for the hipsters
  • Colluseum: book in advance or queue for hours

    Nearby is San Clemente church, very early Christian church and no where near the crowds.

    Spanish steps a tourist trap.

    St Peters a must but would pass on rest of Vatican and Sistine chapel especially with a three year old.

    Rome is a place to wander really. Very good resistance museum if you want unusual.
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  • Instead of the train to Pompeìi I would suggest you go on a tour by coach which does a road tour around Naples, lunch in Pompeii, then a guided tour of the ruins about 3hours, then on to Sorento via the coast road, before returning to Rome.
  • Did Venice - Florence - Tuscany about 25 years ago. Florence was the best city imo. Went to Rome for the day.....Coliseum looks bettet from the outside & The Cistine Chapel was just closing when we got there (4pm ?) which I thought was a bit odd & v. disappointing. Pisa ok but don't remember it being that busy - was a bit meh, as in......ok, its a building that doesn't stand up straight.....next ! At least I can say I've had a Big Mac in London, Paris & Rome.

    Tuscany also very pretty but spent a lot of time in & around the pool of our villa so didn't see a lot of the coutryside. Sam Giaminco (sp?) was nice though.

    PS. Just remembered......I got a nosebleed whilst at the top of the Duomo on Florence. More to do with the heat than the height, although the views from the top are spectacular.
  • Another vote for San Giminiano.

    Every thing I would suggest has already been mentioned but I would also vote for San Giminiano, beautiful place especially in the evening for dinner.
  • San Gimignano is a breathtaking place to visit - best visited in the evening.

    Enjoyed Pisa and Volterra and one of my highlights was Siena - the main square there is amazing.

    So much to see in Tuscany - beautiful scenery and incredible sense of history.

    Florence can get very busy.
  • When in Tuscany, check out this vineyard antinorichianticlassico.it/

    They produce a very famous Tignanello and some other amazing Sangiovese.

    The restaurant there is very very good too.
  • consider Herculanium as well as pompeii, as good as pompeii but different.
    Lucca is great as well.
  • Florence is one of my favourite cities in the world. Been there a couple of times. It’s beautiful, the food is incredible, it’s full of American girls, everyone speaks English. Great art. What’s not to like?

    I’ll try and dig out the name of the restaurant I had my favourite ever pasta dish in Florence. Cooked in a wheel of cheese and served with grated fresh truffle. Was incredible.

    My mate used to study in Siena and that’s nice, but all the little towns in Tuscany are much of a muchness in that they’re all beautiful but they’re all kind of the same.
  • Lake Bolsena (Umbria) is nice....camped there once, spent 2 months travelling in Italy back in 88. Like others have said definitely go and see the leaning tower....you have to get the cheesy photo there (of you and family holding it up etc). I did hear on the radio that the Italian Air-traffic controllers were going on strike....though can't recall when so hopefully won't effect you to much.
  • Florence is superb. It also has the Enoteca Pinchiorri. Not just the best restaurant in Florence, but probably in Italy.

    It's not just the food, although it has a Michelin three stars plus five "knife and forks" combo making it an elite Michelin gaff. It's the truly epic wine list. The restaurant claims its wine list has around the same number of pages as the bible. Whatever, there are 4,500 different wines to select from. There are 75k bottles in the cellar (and more kept in cellars off site). Very expensive of course but a great experience.
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  • Thanks everyone, keep 'em coming.
  • For lunch in Florence go to panini toscani, right opposite the cathedral. On the outside it looks like an Italian subway sandwich place, but you queue and go in as a group where the owner lets you try each of the ingredients before you have your sandwich made. He looks like the Italian Steve Martin. Best sandwich place I’ve ever been to, and it’s like an experience in itself.
  • Just try any of the restaurants the locals use.

    There are plenty of inexpensive ones that I think give you a better eating experience than the touristy Michelin Star ones which you are only at because it is a Michelin Star restaurant and you want to blow £300 on a meal for two plus wine.
  • Best to go by plane
  • Halix said:

    consider Herculanium as well as pompeii, as good as pompeii but different.
    Lucca is great as well.

    Totally agree with this although a slight downfall to Herculaneum is that it’s hot in the summer months, take plenty of water as you will need it, not certain what it would be like with a three year old because of the heat and I seem to remember more uneven walking, but it was my favourite of the two site and Lucca was great.
  • Agree Lucca is delightful, recommend you hire a bicycle - they have the big 4 person one's. Sienna also great.

    It would be to your advantage to read up about Pompeii in advance, also it is such a huge site it helps to join a guided tour- i did not and suffered.

    I like the idea offered above of a bus tour from Rome to Pompeii.
  • Another shout for Lucca. Beautiful city contained in city walls, well worth a day trip. Loved Florence but it was far too busy when we went (August), going back when a bit more quiet. Did the Leaning Tower only because we were flying out of Pisa but it was an amazing sight.
  • edited July 2018

    Jetting off on our hols on Friday and looking for some tips from the always excellent Charlton Life travel experts.

    Have a week in an apartment in Rome. Will be doing the obvious things like the Colloseum, Vatican etc. and also a day trip to Pompeii on the train. All advice gratefully received but particularly interested in any lesser known gems we should check out. Will be relying on public transport for this week. Will have my Mum and Dad and our 3 year old daughter with us.

    Then we have a week at a Villa in Tuscany near Reggello which is SE of Florence. We’ll spend at least a day in Florence as Mum’s always wanted to visit some art galleries there. It’ll be Mum’s and Mrs Exiled’s birthdays while we’re there too so looking for a nice restaurant, probably in Florence. The Wife would like to do a wine tasting session/tour at a winery - has anyone done a good one or a self guided one? The only organised ones I’ve found online seem a bit overpriced. We’ll have a car for this week so any general suggestions of the best places to visit would be great.

    Also quite fancy trying to get kiddo to the beach at somepoint - any good ones?

    Lastly, Leaning Tower of Pisa, worth the effort of seeing it or not? I’ve read a lot of opinions it’s a bit underwhelming and the crowds look a bit off putting to me.

    1: Florence. Book galleries online in advance or you won't get in. You'll be fine if you are a fan of crowds...

    2: Pisa is OK, (see above re: crowds) but can I suggest a day in Lucca going round the city walls instead. Hire cycles (including multibikes for you and the kids) to do the full circuit. Give yourself a couple of hours plus time for refreshment breaks. Then go in to the squares on foot after returning the bikes. We spent a week there and it is a fantastic city.
  • Jetting off on our hols on Friday and looking for some tips from the always excellent Charlton Life travel experts.

    Have a week in an apartment in Rome. Will be doing the obvious things like the Colloseum, Vatican etc. and also a day trip to Pompeii on the train. All advice gratefully received but particularly interested in any lesser known gems we should check out. Will be relying on public transport for this week. Will have my Mum and Dad and our 3 year old daughter with us.

    Then we have a week at a Villa in Tuscany near Reggello which is SE of Florence. We’ll spend at least a day in Florence as Mum’s always wanted to visit some art galleries there. It’ll be Mum’s and Mrs Exiled’s birthdays while we’re there too so looking for a nice restaurant, probably in Florence. The Wife would like to do a wine tasting session/tour at a winery - has anyone done a good one or a self guided one? The only organised ones I’ve found online seem a bit overpriced. We’ll have a car for this week so any general suggestions of the best places to visit would be great.

    Also quite fancy trying to get kiddo to the beach at somepoint - any good ones?

    Lastly, Leaning Tower of Pisa, worth the effort of seeing it or not? I’ve read a lot of opinions it’s a bit underwhelming and the crowds look a bit off putting to me.

    1: Florence. Book galleries online in advance or you won't get in. You'll be fine if you are a fan of crowds...

    2: Pisa is OK, (see above re: crowds) but can I suggest a day in Lucca going round the city walls instead. Hire cycles (including multibikes for you and the kids) to do the full circuit. Give yourself a couple of hours plus time for refreshment breaks. Then go in to the squares on foot after returning the bikes. We spent a week there and it is a fantastic city.
    Not especially, why do you think I support Charlton?
  • Fumbluff said:

    Napoli is grim, you’ll probably have to change there for the slow train to Pompeii, so don’t bother getting out and looking around.
    Pompeii (and Ercolano) on the other hand are bonkers fascinating. Your 3-yr old won’t appreciate but they’re mind-blowing. Would suggest shelling out €100 or so for a local guide, well worth the moolah...

    Did the train from Rome to Napoli which was fine however when we went down to the platform to take the local train to Sorrento it was scary. There are beware of pickpocket signs all over the place and I felt we were being circled by them but luckily nothing happened. We took a taxi back to Napoli from Sorrento. Pompeii was fascinating and Amalfi coast superb. Enjoyed Rome and the Vatican was fascinating. Did Florence and the statue of David was brilliant as well as the Duomo. Finished up in Venice which was s very touristy but worth a day trip. Loved Italy
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