One of the major decisions that comes with planning any trip is how many places you are willing to see in one vacation. How many attractions can you squeeze into one week? How much schlepping around can your kids handle? This decision is magnified when you visit Europe since countries are so close together and high speed trains whisk you from city to city in a manner of hours.
I’m in the final stages of solidifying my family’s trip to Europe this summer, and I’m trying to figure out places to hit and places to skip.
To Pisa, or Not to Pisa
I visited Italy in my late 20s with a tour group. We had a half-day stopover to the town of Pisa, and surprisingly, it was one of my favorite stops during my 2-week trip. It wasn’t just the tower that I loved. The cathedral was stunning, the whole town was beautiful, and it was just a really cute stop.
So naturally, I am looking at how to fit this into our current plans. The day before our cruise, we will going from Venice to Rome. Tourists often stop by Pisa on the journey between those two cities, but it does add a few hours to the journey.
Option 1: Skip Pisa
If we forget about seeing Pisa and save it for another trip, we could take a high-speed train from Venice to Rome. This train trip takes less than 4 hours. So, we could sleep in a bit, have a leisurely breakfast, hop on the train and still make it to Rome by mid-afternoon. Cost: $50/person for train. Time: ~4 hours.
Option 2: Add Pisa
If we left Venice earlier in the morning (we might be up early anyway due to the time change), we can take a train with one connection to Pisa (almost 4 hours on slower train). Then, after spending ~2 hours in Pisa, we can take a direct train to Rome (also ~4 hours), arriving in the early evening. Cost: $51/person for train (plus money to store our luggage at train station). Time: ~8 hours on trains + 2 hours in Pisa.
It’s just not just the cost and convenience we have to consider. Our time is valuable. We only have one night in Rome before we board our cruise, and one day for Rome after our cruise. I’ve already seen almost everything in Rome, but my family has never been there. Skipping Pisa will give us more precious time in Rome.
On the other hand, how many times will we visit Italy as a family? We have so many other trips on our wish list, so it may be a long time before we visit Italy again.
Readers, I’d love to know your thoughts on my two itineraries. Have you faced a similar dilemma? Do you prefer to squeeze in more sites/cities, or take a more leisurely approach?
Note: I’m currently traveling with limited internet access. My replies to your comments will be delayed.