Let me start with the bottom line, it was such amazing two weeks (!) being with our intimate little family, yet I won’t deny, it was also challenging. Looking back, I would do it all over again.
When we decided to take a family vacation we were looking for a country that would have a positive attitude and welcome babies, the obvious choice was Italy of course, the land of bambinos. Italians L-O-V-E children! and the country is pretty convenient for a family trip with babies.
On this first post I will elaborate mainly on logistics when traveling with a baby, and on the next 2 posts I will tell you more about our itinerary for each day. So stay tuned 🙂
I have specific essentials I’d like to share that totally made a difference:
- Car seat, a must! you cannot guarantee which car seat you’ll be given at the rental company and what its condition. Car seats considered as baby luggage so it will be free of charge. I strongly recommend taking the car seat with you, that would be the most convenient and familiar to your baby.
- Comfy stroller and a baby carrier. We used the baby jogger city mini light 80% of the time, smooth ride on the streets, allies and brick roads. The Ergo baby air 360 was great for places we could not enter a stroller but there were not many places like these. Most site seeing in Italy are stroller friendly.
- Disposable bibs this had made my life so much easier, zero cleaning, zero mess, just toss when you are done.
- Sterile wipes for surfaces like a high chair, toys etc. Literally, saved my life and eased my inner worried mama.
- Inflatable chair for bath time , luggage space saver and super useful for bath time, we used it every day.
- Picnic blanket. At every town there was a play ground and a garden. This was a great opportunity to take a break, relax and enjoy the view.
- 2 sheets and a stuffed animal from home to have a familiar surroundings for your baby.
Surviving a flight with a baby/toddler:
- Bring a TON of snacks, different types and flavors. It will keep him/her busy for a decent 10-15 minutes at a time.
- Download on your tablet several videos you know your baby likes and use a case he/she can hold with his hands. This one really worked for us.
- Exhaust your baby before departure! playing, running around the airport, exploring etc. That might sound a bit funny but so important. My baby was not tired throughout the whole flight and it was super challenging to entertain her for 4 hours straight.
We were traveling during the busiest time of year, mid August. Though it was not feeling so hectic in the airport. Landing in Verona was pretty smooth, we claimed our baggage (make sure you have a 1 euro coin, you will need it for the baggage carts), went out of the main building and headed to the rental agencies building. We chose Hertz since we had positive past experience with them.
We could not find any store to buy a sim card in the airport and that was a bit disappointing because we had to manage for 2 whole days with the car GPS until we found a cellular shop. A Vodafone SIM with 18 Gb cost us around 26 euros. We ended up using less than 8 Gb for the whole 2 weeks (using waze, tripadvisor and whatsapp constantly), so take that into consideration.
Driving and navigation in Italy
Talking about a challenge! This country is packed with speed traps! some are real, some are not. I recommend driving safely and according to the signs, even when they do not make any sense. There are roads where max limit can go from 80 km/h to 30 km/h just like that so be aware.
Entrance to most city/town centers by car are prohibited, those areas are called ZTL. Download the app that runs on top of google maps or waze and warns you once you reach those areas. Waze worked really well for us in Garda lake and Tuscany.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT leave any bag or suitcase in the car during the day. There are so many robbery and theft aimed mainly on tourists.
The food in Italy is amazing, delicious and can suit your baby if he/she already started eating solids. Pasta, Lasagne, Pizza and Ice cream of course. This is heaven on earth for foodies.
In case you are staying in an apartment with a fully equipped kitchen I recommend having most of your meals (breakfast and dinner) at your lodging. Coop.fi supermarkets are spread throughout Italy in which you can find delicious fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese and meat to cook your meal.
The first week was spent in Certaldo Tuscany at a place called La Certaldina.
It’s a beautiful villa, surrounded by vineyards and greens, just outside of Certaldo. Quiet, friendly and welcoming. It has many types of rooms. We booked an apartment with fully equipped kitchen, ready for cooking. The place has a swimming pool and many activities to offer. The owners were very helpful and we were pleased overall.
The second week was spent in Lake Garda at a place called Corta Attilea. A farm which was converted into a lodging place.
OMG I can’t stress enough how amazing this lace was!!! Let’s start with Alessandro the owner, what a lovely man. He did everything he could to make us feel comfortable and cosy, just like home. The apartment was beautiful, clean and well equipped with groceries for the next morning breakfast, on the house!! There was even a baby bathtub and a wood baby cob bed for personal use.
There is a spa area, barbecue, game room and a Lobby for gathering. A washing machine, bikes (with baby chair) for exploring around the nearby river, a garden, a small pool, playground and parking lot. It is super close to Gardaland and all main attractions in the area. Seriously, the perfect Aguriturismo!
Our first week in Tuscany, coming up next….