I like lists. I’m also short on time and assume you are as well, so I’ve decided to run down our Italian adventure in bullet points
- Venice: We flew in on Thursday morning. The goals (that we met) were to tour the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Aqua Alta bookshop, the Jewish Ghetto (the original ghetto), to get lost on back streets, eat lots of gelato, chase pigeons, ride a traghetto to the Saturday morning fish market, count lions (the symbol of the city) and have no one fall in a canal.
- Rome: on Saturday we took the night rain to Roma termini station, without incident. Our (met) goals here were to take a general bus tour of the city, step foot in Vatican City, tour the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, traipse about famous squares and fountains, and to have Daddy and Rowan take a gladiator training course. We adored our apartment, enjoyed the vibe of the city and would love to return someday to the eternal city!
- Naples: Tuesday afternoon we grabbed a train down to the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. We had a packed itinerary for the two half days scheduled here that mostly went not-as-planned. We were tired, opening hours weren’t clear on the subterranean city tour and on our way to one of the castles some delinquents threw glass bottles over a ridge, landing close to Rowan and scaring him near to death (we skipped the castle, grabbed some pasteries and went back to our apartment). We were able to visit the museum where most of the artifacts from Pompeii are housed, eat at a famous cafe, see some famous squares/shopping centers, eat some famous deserts, and of course eat pizza in it’s birthplace! We were also able to have a couple of very thrilling metro rides (I have personally never experienced anything like them, nor probably touched so many strangers all at once…except that I did engage in mosh pits as a teenager I seem to remember, so maybe I came close?) and upon getting lost and waiting ages for an airport bus, we hailed a taxi for one last wild adventure (I was panicked and asked him to “hurry.” This was effective and incredibly terrifying.)
Brags/Things that went right:
- We managed to pack for a week in only carry-on bags!
- No one fell in a canal!
- We didn’t miss a single train or plane!
- We didn’t lose a single kid
- We saw most of what we wanted to see.
- We ate lots of gelato
- We weren’t pickpocketed
- Our apartments were all very nice/as advertised. In Venice we had a canal view and in Naples we had an incredible 10th floor view of the city and Vesuvius.
- We worked together to overcome obstacles and bonded on an awesome learning adventure
Things we learned for next time (yes, even with all the travel we have done with kids we still make plenty of mistakes!):
- Bring sun hats – always. Yes, even when the spring forecast is cool and rainy because it might actually be warm and sunny the entire time.
- Maybe purchase attraction tickets in advance (although the ticket purchase line at the Colosseum was shorter than the advance ticket line and we were glad we didn’t pre-purchase for the Vatican museums because by the time we were supposed to go, our hearts were not in another museum visit with toddlers…so mileage may vary here).
- Don’t bother with restaurant recommendations like the ones I painstakingly pinned – we just ended up eating takeaway pizza and supermarket sandwiches anyway – much less stressful than sit down meals with loud, messy, off schedule tots.
- No markers. I’m sure the train seats/pastel toddler pants will thank us next time.
- Remind husband extra times about putting color sucking laundry sheets into mixed loads. Or do the laundry myself.
- Don’t leave the elderberry immune gummies in the car. Although I’m sure we still would have caught colds (because toddlers and public transportation).
- Leave stroller intact instead of stripping snack tray and sunshade for weight reasons. See above about weather forecasting. Also, it would have spared a few unbelted toddler spills. Oooops.
- Agree on souvenir and treat prices ahead of time so the kids know what to expect (or not to expect).
- Accept the lack of early starts.
- Accept that you’ll cut 1/4 -1/2 of your itinerary.
- Trains are not scary. Hop on and enjoy the lack of airport uptight-ness.
- Make time to pee/ get snacks before getting on the train instead of being so uptight about being there and waiting 45 minutes for a gate to even be announced.
- Conversely: Either give the airport shuttle bus a huge lead time or just take a taxi (instead of frantically hailing one from the bus stop and eating the bus tickets). This could obviously vary by city, but Naples transportation was a crowded, under construction, disorganized nightmare. And…cue the pictures!