After watching the movie Letters to Juliet, we wanted to plan a holiday in Italy to celebrate our wedding anniversary around the theme of the film with our two teenage children. We contacted the Italy trip planning team at Italiakids a year in advance to ensure we would have top pick of the perfect choices for all of the experiences we hoped to include as this was our first Italy family trip and visit to Europe. Our first stop was Venice!
Our flight arrived to Venice at 11:25 am. We took a water taxi from the airport. The cost was 100 euro. For door-to-door assistance in English from when you exit the airport, to getting your bags in the boat, and getting your bags out of the boat and walking to the hotel, I recommend a fun and helpful service, Prontopia – a travel app for requesting a Local from Venice on demand for assistance getting around in Venice. Our Local offered helpful tips about shopping and dining specific to the area where we were staying as we were en route to our hotel. Having someone there right when we arrived, to personally greet us with a smiling face, took a tremendous load off of our family… She was fabulous also in terms of suggesting what not to do, who we shouldn’t talk to, and what scams to avoid.
We stayed at the Residenza Goldoni, a small family-friendly Venice hotel near the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square. The price for 2 nights in our quad room was 520 euro with a nice breakfast included. (Residenza Goldoni San Marco 5232-5234, Calle degli Stagner tel. +39 0412410086)
Our first evening in Venice, we went on a pre-booked 6 pm Gondola ride with serenade from a singer and musicians. It was an expensive activity, but was worth if for incredible memories. We had booked with Gondola Serenade, and were met at the hotel and accompanied to the Gondola dock. The following day we spent the morning at Murano shopping and visiting the glass blowing studios. We were grateful for the tips and advice our Prontopia Local had provided during our arrival to Venice about how to take the vaporetto to the island, and how to find quality, authentic artisans’ studios. We purchased some very special pieces that we had shipped home. For meals, we researched in advance, and consulted the Venice family-friendly dining tips on Italiakids.
The next day, we had a Secrets of Venice tour of the Doge’s Palace with Luisella of See Venice, who was fantastic. To remain stress free, we had also asked Luisella meet us at the hotel lobby rather than a meeting point in the city. This was a great choice in terms of Venice activities for kids, teens or adolescents especially.
For peace of mind, we chose to use Prontopia for our departure as well when we took a water taxi to train station as we wanted to ensure we would be on time to catch our pre-booked train to Verona. Our train departed Venice St. Lucia station at 3:50 pm and arrived in Verona at Porta Nuova station at 5:00 pm. We appreciated having the help identifying the correct train and navigating the train station for the first time.
In Verona, we stayed at Corte Realdi Suites a gorgeous B&B in a historical building overlooking Piazza delle Erbe that was central to all of the main sites of the ancient center. We stayed in a Grand Deluxe room for 425 euro for 2 nights, which included breakfast. (Corte Realdi Suites, Vicolo San Matteo 2
37121 Verona Tel: +39045594015)
Our first evening in Verona, We went on a private combined Sommelier Enoteca and city walking tour with Veronissima –a 2-hr tour from 5:00-7:00 pm with a sommelier that visited the main sites of the historical center, including and stops for wine tasting at selective enotecas along the way. Our guide Michelangelo, met us at the B&B, and was a great host, acquainting us with the city and its cuisine. The cost was 140 euro total, which doesn’t include wines. We visited Juliet’s balcony, the ancient Arena, the Scala Museum and explored shopping around Piazza dell’Erbe, the fantastic location of our hotel.
To arrive to Florence on a direct train from Verona, we had to take the train to the Florence Campo di Marte station, rather than the main Santa Maria Novella station. When we initially arrived, the station in Florence was deserted with no taxis in sight. We found ourselves wishing we had Prontopia to help us again in Florence! Finally, we found a taxi, and in the end it was only a 10 euro ride to our apartment.
We stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment near Piazza Signoria on Borgo degli Albizi (Tornaquinci Apartments Borgo degli Albizi 29 Firenze 50122 Tel. +393381113677), 318.96 euro for 2 nights. It was a bit of an adjustment for us to stay in an apartment without a front desk or accessible person to assist us with some questions and issues in the city, but the location was just perfect.
For meals, we had done some research, and again relied on the Italiakids recommendations for Florence family-friendly restaurants. On our first day, we visited the Uffizi Gallery at 9:15 am in the morning with pre-purchased skip-the-line Uffizi Gallery tickets that cost 55 euro when purchased directly from the museum. In the afternoon, from 2:30-6:30 pm, continuing on with our wine education, we went on a private Chianti wine tour with Le Baccanti. The cost was 510 euro, which included a visit to the Villa Le Corti estate with tasting and then to the charming Tuscan towns of Montefioralle and Greve in Chianti). We were picked up at our apartment, which was very convenient.
Upon departure, we took a taxi to Hertz desk at Via Borgo Ognissanti 137r to pick up our rental car at 10 am and head to Tuscany for some more Letters to Juliet sites on our list.
Our lodging at Agriturismo Il Casalino was everything we could have dreamed of for our Tuscany stay. We booked a 2 bedroom apartment for 548.40 euro for 3 nights, which had a gorgeous terrace with classic views of the countryside and a view of Pienza. (Agriturismo Il Casalino Via Podere Casalino 33 Pienza, 53026 Tel. +393348105665). The owner was very helpful with directions and dining reservations, advice.
En route to Pienza from Florence, we made some stops at the wine estates featured in the movie Letters to Juliet, stopping for a 12:30 lunch reservation at Borgo Scopeto Relais, Strada Comunale 14 Siena Vagliagli, 18 – Località Borgo Scopeto – 53019 Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI). After lunch, we continued on to the vineyard at Caparzo for a wine tasting (Hospitality & Wine Shop Borgo Scopeto e Caparzo Srl Società Agricola Strada Provinciale del Brunello km 1,7 loc. Caparzo – 53024 Montalcino (SI) Tel: +39 0577 848390). We took a tour of the cellar and tasted some wine (8 wines including the best Crus) served with crostini, bruschetta, cheese and cold cuts selection, Tuscan bread, fruits, and dessert. D.o.p. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar tasting also included.
Our second day in Tuscany, we did a scenic loop to the beach at Porto Ercole, passing through Grosseto. The following day, we went on a vineyard tour with 2 of us going by horseback riding, and my son and I on quads, guided by 75Avventure. This adventurous local experience was 250 euro for 3 hours. On our last day in Tuscany, we set out to drive to Rome and had a stop for lunch in Orvieto at Ristorante Le Grotte del Funaro, Via Ripa Serancia, 41 05018. Orvieto was definitely worth a stop and the lunch was amazing.
In Rome, we stayed in the Monti neighborhood, near the Coliseum and conveniently central, at the Monti Charme a 1-bedroom apartment, for 612 euro for 3 nights. Upon arrival, we dropped our rental car at Hertz Desk, Via Sardegna 30A at4 pm and took an Uber to the apartment, which cost around 10 euro.
Our first day in Rome we woke up early for the pre-booked 7:15 am Vatican Tour which includes breakfast at the Vatican, purchased for 260 euro directly on the Vatican Museum website.
The next day, at 9:00 am we went to do the Gladiator School experience as a family. We departed at 8:30 am from our apartment by taxi for the 15-minute ride beyond the center of Rome to Via Appia Antica, 18, 00179. Later that afternoon, we had Skip the Line Coliseum tickets (good any day or time) 32 euro paid in full. We enjoyed exploring the hidden streets of Rome and some shopping.
Our final day, was a bit of a journey before the journey because our return flights were booked out of Venice. So, we booked a nice airport hotel near the Venice airport at Agriturismo Ca Danieli, and took the train to Venice from Rome the afternoon before our departure as our flight left at 7:00 am the next day. The Agriturismo very kindly ordered an early morning taxi for us, and off we went, saying arrivederci Italy, and sharing memories of our Letters to Juliet pilgrimage.
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