Dave and I have been lucky enough to travel to Italy fairly recently when we surprised my Mum in Venice for her birthday in November of last year. We fell in love. Not with each other (that happened many years ago!) but with Italy itself and we are both keen to return and explore more of what this beautiful country has to offer. From the food and wine to the relaxed atmosphere, beautiful buildings and gorgeous shops there was just so much to love about Venice and I’m sure that the rest of the country wouldn’t disappoint.
My parents are big fans of Italy having been on more Italian holidays than I can count and they keep threatening to move there in their retirement (though I think they would prefer to refer to it as an “extended holiday” being as how neither of them actually wants to retire!). I think the idea of finding homes to rent in Italy for a few months of the year is extremely appealing to them – do you think they’d want us to visit or do you think they’re actually trying to escape us?!
Although we already have a family holiday in France planned for May half term and our summer holidays are starting to look pretty busy, I must admit that whilst sitting enjoying a delicious meal of antipasto, pasta and pizza with the kids in Zizzi during the Easter holidays I found myself pining for an Italian break. That’s not to say we’re not looking forward to our holiday in France, we really are, it’s just more that I was thinking ahead to what we might do next. Dave and I both agreed we’d like to try and go to Italy with the kids next year. Previously an annual foreign holiday hasn’t been a thing for us but if we want to make it happen then I guess we need to start thinking about it now!
Although we loved Venice and I’d definitely like to go back, I don’t think it’s somewhere we’d rush to take the kids – aside from the general fear of them falling in a canal, it just didn’t seem the most child friendly of places. Knowing what a reputation Italy has for being a family friendly country, I was surprised at how few children we saw in Venice however on reflection I think this was mainly to do with the high level of tourism and the fact that people are more likely to be there on romantic city breaks than a family holiday. (If nothing else all the steps and bridges would be a terrible place to have to take a pushchair!) And of course, being as how we were there without the kids ourselves, I was far more interested in exploring the city and long leisurely lunches than I was in finding out what was on offer for children. We had a wonderful time in Venice pottering around the shops, getting ourselves a bit lost and of course taking a ride on a gondola, however the things which we took the most pleasure in would probably have been thoroughly boring to our little team of three! (That said, nobody is going to turn their nose up at freshly made pizzas and daily gelato are they . . . )
Dave and I would definitely like to return to Italy on a city break (or three) to explore Rome (ticking off key sights such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain or the Vatican), Florence, Milan or Naples, but for a family holiday with the children I think I’d be more inclined to check out the beautiful Italian Lakes or coastal towns such as Puglia and Amalfi – I mean is it really a holiday without hot sunny days on the beach and eating your own body weight in gelato? Of course it’s entirely possible that we would forgo flying in favour of a bit of an extended road trip allowing us to explore more of Italy along the way, before eventually meeting up with my parents in a villa for a week or two! (Can you tell I’m already there in my mind’s eye?!)
Although there are obviously a variety of options for holidaying in Italy including a cruise or perhaps an all inclusive hotel break these wouldn’t be my first choice. Aside from the fact that I think I personally would find them restrictive for this sort of trip, increasingly we are finding that self-catering holiday homes are the best solution for our larger family. Hotel rooms rarely cater for five and so the additional expense of another room can be quite limiting and also makes it tricky in terms of spending time together if Dave and I have to sleep in separate rooms with the kids! Renting a villa in Italy for our next family holiday really appeals to me at the moment – it would give us a base from which to explore whilst providing us with the space to spread out and relax without feeling like we are on top of one another. Of course it also makes it much easier to put the children to bed at a reasonable hour whilst we stay up enjoying a glass of wine or two (for Dave anyway – I’m not really a wine drinker!). I’m definitely going to start researching our options for an Italian break next summer, and I’m rather hoping we can convince Granny, Grandad and Aunty Nic to come with us too!
Does Italy feature highly on your travel wish list or is it somewhere you’ve already been? I’d love to know if you have any recommendations for us!