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Even though Jordyn had already been on about 10 flights by the time we were heading to Italy I was still a bit worried as this would be her longest flight to date and at an age where she was extremely active. Not to mention after booking I found out I was expecting and would be 3 months pregnant on the trip. With the tons of walking that comes with Europe and knowing Jordyn's want to be constantly picked up I was getting worried how I would make it.
The Flight We flew Delta non-stop from JFK into Venice. I booked the overnight flight so we could sleep the whole way and avoid jet-lag as when we arrived it would be morning. I got the bulkhead seat so we would have more space and so Jordyn couldn't kick seats in front of us and then the flight attendant pops up and asks "How much does she weigh?." I got a little nervous/annoyed thinking why does this matter but when I said 20lbs a miracle happened. She goes, "Great, I will get you a bassinet for her" (Delta's limit is 20lbs and 26 inches). I never knew about these before or that you could actually request them when you book your flight so even if the bulkhead seat is taken they can move people around for you. It was a Godsend; I could now be hands free the entire flight and much more comfortable.
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How We Got From the Airport We took the ATVO coach bus from the airport (mainland Venice) to Venice Island. These coaches have storage for your luggage and take you to the island where you can then take the water taxi to the stop you need to. You can buy your ticket inside of the airport near baggage claim and follow the signs outside to the waiting area for the bus, they come every 15mins.
Where We Stayed Since there were 16 of us, we booked Airbnb in each city: Venice, Florence, & Rome. For reviews of the Airbnbs we stayed in click here. Sign up for Airbnb here and receive a $40 credit towards your first stay.
What We Did
Day 1: Rialto Bridge and Market, Gondola Ride
We landed around 9AM checked into our Airbnb and then got lunch. We still had most of the day and since the weather had rain in the forecast for our next two days but wasn't raining now we figured it was the perfect time for the obligatory Gondola ride. Gondola rides are very expensive, expect to pay about $80 Euros for a short 40 minute ride. Since we were a group of 16, we got 3 and split the cost so it wasn't as expensive.
If you wait until after 7PM, the ride goes up to $100 Euros. You can check the current price of Gondola Rides here. If you are traveling alone with an infant you might want to consider a shared Gondola Ride from Viator where kids under 1 are free and you only pay about $38 per person.
Afterwards we walked around Rialto Bridge where they have vendors selling souvenirs. They also have a market with vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Day 2: St. Marks Square: Campanile, Basilica, Doge's Palace & Secret Itineraries Tour
On our second day in Venice we explored all of St. Marks Square. We started with the day exploring Doge's Palace which was included in our Venice Museum Pass. Next we went on the Secret Itineraries Tour which covers the inaccessible rooms and chambers where the delicate work of some of the most important bodies in the Venetian administration was carried out. Children under 6 are not allowed on this tour so Jordyn did not go with me, my Aunt who was traveling with us was not interested and kindly watched her for me. The tour lasts 1 hour and 15 mins.
Next we visited the Campanile for breathtaking views of Venice 324 feet in the air. The cost is 8 Euros but the views are gorgeous (children under 5 are free). In July and August it's open for 9AM to 9PM, in April-June and September-October it's open from 9AM-7PM and in the winter from November to March it's only open 9:30AM-3:45PM. The last elevator goes up 1 hour before closing. To avoid the long lines unless you arrive early you can purchase a skip the line ticket online here when traveling between April 1st and November 2nd, all other times everyone must stand on line.
During the same time of the year you can purchase a skip the line ticket for St. Mark's Bascilica to avoid that line. Monday-Friday it is open from 9:30AM-5:00PM and weekends from 2:00PM-4:30PM. It only takes about 10 mins to go through the church. You are not allowed to take pictures inside of the church. Your clothing must also be appropriate for a place of worship, meaning no above the knees short/dresses/skirts and shoulders must be covered.
Day 3: Island of Burano and Island of Murano
Our last day in Venice was spent exploring the nearby islands of Burano and Murano. Half of our group decided to take a group tour while the other half including myself decided we would go at our own pace and take the ferry to save money. We caught the ferry to Murano from St. Marks Square. Before getting on we stopped to admire the infamous Bridge of Sighs pictured below.
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We took a vaporetto to our first stop, Murano Island, which is famous for glass blowing. From St. Marks Square we took a vaporetto to the Fondamente Nove stop and then transferred to line 12. We got off at Colonna since we wanted to see a live demonstration of glassblowing but you can get off at any stop in Murano. In Murano we also visited the Glass Museum, included in our Museum Pass, and walked around exploring the various shops
Next we headed to Burano, a 30min ride from Murano. You can take the same vaporetto, line 12 to get from Muarno to Burano. There is only one stop in Burano so you can't miss it. Burano is known for it's lace and gorgeous brightly colored homes.
The homes were originally painted so colorfully to prevent the boats from missing them and wrecking.
Stroller, Car seat and/or Carrier
In Venice there are no roadways so you either walk to your destination or take a water-taxi. I bought a super cheap umbrella stroller from Tagret for the trip but after 30mins in Venice I realized the city was not made for strollers and used the carrier the rest of the time. The walkways are cobble stone and there are just so many stairs in Venice the stroller was inconvenient. We saw so many people struggling to carry the stroller up the stairs with their child in out or have to take the kid out have them walk up and down while holding their hand and the stroller, just leave the stroller in your place.
Next we headed to Florence to spend two days there. We traveled by train, taking the Trenitalia. It was very easy to take, only cost $37 per person and took 2hrs. Children under 4 ride for free and children 4-14 get a 50% discount.
The Venice Airbnb was in a great location, the host made it very easy for us to find the place as they met us at the boat taxi stop and walked us over. We had 4 apartments in the building, two with 2 bedrooms (3 beds), a pull out couch, and 1.5 bath and 2 with 1 bedroom (1 bed), 1 pull out couch and one bath. The apartments were on the 2nd and 3rd floor and there is no elevator in the building.
In Florence we had 3 apartments but they were not all in the same building and we were not told this ahead of time. Two were right next to each other and the 3rd was a 10 min drive. The two together were 5 min walk from the train station and the 3rd was a 5-10min walk to the Duomo. Both locations were great and luckily for us part of the group being further away wasn't a huge problem but it would of been nice to know this ahead of time. The apartments were on the 3rd floor with no elevator.
The Rome Airbnb's location was amazing: it was right in the middle of the square, a short walk from the train station and had plenty of restaurants and stores at its doorstep. There were 5 bedrooms in total with great views from 4 and had 3.5 bathrooms. The host provided breakfast items which was great to start off without having run to the grocery store immediately. The downfall to this place was it definitely wasn't big enough for 15 people like advertised. Four of the bedrooms had a queen sized bed and then they added a cot and one bedroom had a queen size bed and a pull out couch. This place should of been for 12 people max. It was on the 5th or 6th floor and although extremely tiny, it did have an elevator which was a Godsend after Venice and Florence.