If you’ve been hanging out around here for the past month or so, you’ve been inundated with posts describing our adventures in Tuscany. Perhaps you’ve been inspired to make your own Italian memories in the near future. But, wait – will the little ones even like it?
Is Tuscany kid-friendly? The simple answer is yes.. and, at the same time, no.
This region of Italy offers many exciting things for kids – castles, knights, bikes, and hikes – in addition to the awesome food. What kid doesn’t like pasta, pizza, and gelato? And, to be fair, there are a few attractions aimed at kids (here’s a handy list).
- Pushing a pram here is utter insanity. Streets are incredibly steep, sidewalks nonexistent, and often a set of stairs is the only way up or down to an attraction.
- Safety. Streets, even “pedestrianized” ones, can be dangerous for little ones. Vehicles zoom by, and often leave you with only a few inches of room to tiptoe along.
- Bathrooms. Facilities are hard to come by, and often cost money (up to 1 euro per visit!). Some towns only have squatty potties… which are super fun when your child needs to go #2 and there’s no other toilet around… not that I know what that is like or anything…
- Changing tables. I only remember two places that had such a luxury; both were in Firenze (Coin on Via dei Calzaiuoli and the former Prenatal store on Via De Brunelleschi if you’re interested).
- Diapers, wipes, and baby food. Expect to pay premium prices on a very limited selection of products.
- Kids meals. What are those? You’ll only find these novelties at overpriced touristy restaurants that usually don’t offer authentic cuisine. The same goes for high chairs.
- Museums. Tuscany is FULL of no-touch art and history.
Are you welcome to bring your kids along almost anywhere you go in Tuscany? Yes! Italians are not annoyed by or hostile toward children. You won’t be shooed or shunned. After all, their culture places a high emphasis on family.
However, you will have your work cut out for you. Just because you can bring your kids, doesn’t mean they’ll want to go everywhere you do. Plan your itinerary carefully (check out my tips here), and give lengthy consideration to the personalities, needs, and interests of your particular children, even more than usual.
If you need help, ask lots of questions on TripAdvisor, and mine the Frommer’s Tuscany, Umbria, & Florence With Your Family guidebook for helpful hints.Here are three things that helped to keep my boys happy in the humdrum and make our travels more interactive:
- Binoculars. Thanks an obscure comment in the Frommer’s guidebook, I purchased inexpensive binoculars from Amazon.de in advance. I presented them to the boys during the long car ride from Germany; the newness and fascination held their interest for hours. I then encouraged the boys to use their trusty field glasses inside churches, at museums, and when surveying the landscape at various panoramic points.
- Digital Cameras. We have an old, somewhat-busted Canon Elph that has become the kids’ camera. It still takes pictures, but it’s not reliable enough for me to use anymore. Just giving the young ‘uns something to do while you walk through yet another hill town is priceless. Arrows Sent Forth has a great post on turning your kids loose with an old digital camera.
- Journaling. Almost every evening, we asked the boys to tell us their highlights from the days’ activities. I made notes, and I also asked them to use Travel Turtle’s Free Printable Journal Page. They really enjoyed being part of our nightly discussion and making something to preserve their memories of Italy. Also check out Travel Turtle’s journaling prompts for kiddos and adults as well as how to make your own journal.
For an insider perspective on the question of whether or not Tuscany is kid-friendly, check out what At Home in Tuscany has to say.