Florence might not be the first destination that springs to mind to take young children to however there are a number of activities to keep them amused during your stay.
One great place for children is the Museo dei Ragazzi (Children’s Museum) located in the Palazzo Vecchio. Set up in 2000, the museum includes two small theatres. The first, named ‘Bia and Garcia’s story telling room’ is aimed at children aged 3 upwards. The other, with the more grown up name, ‘Renaissance and Civilisation in Florence’ is aimed at anyone from 8 to 88! The museum also has a large multimedia room and art studio for it’s visitors to enjoy some painting. Children have the chance to make their own fresco, among other things, which they can then take away with them. The museum hosts a number of activities and educational workshops with activities ranging from building a model of the Palazzo Vecchio to getting the chance to peer through a replica of Michaelangelo’s binoculars. The interactive tours that the museum sets up are also excellent. Actors will dress up as famous characters from history such as Galileo or Vasari, literally bringing history to life in front of you. Most tours are aimed at children aged 8 or 10 or over, but there are a few for those aged 3 and upwards. Some of these do start in the early evening though so it requires your youngster to have some stamina to keep going this late in the day! Tours must be booked in advance and may occur in different venues. Please see the website for more details and to view the latest calendar of events. www.museoragazzi.it
There are plenty of other museums on offer to entertain them however, it’s best to choose carefully which ones you visit to ensure you don’t overload them! One popular one amongst youngsters is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum – www.mostredileonardo.com – which brings the drawings of Leonardo to life. Children can play with the models as much as they like, turning wheels and watching the gears and mechanisms work on anything from a machine gun to a crane.
For those interested in Leonardo da Vinci, you might also like the Museo Leonardiano in Vinci which is just outside Florence, which is packed full of inventions by the great artist.
Also just outside Florence is Fiesole. In the hills above the city, there is plenty to occupy children here, including the Etruscan tombs. Believe it or not, their size is actually perfect for little ones who are small enough to climb in and out. Whilst you’re here, why not also take the opportunity to bring to life what they have learned about Romans at school. You’ll find a Roman amphitheatre here as well as the remains of a Roman temple and baths.
For those museums inside the city, do make sure you buy your tickets in advance where possible in order to avoid queuing which no child will enjoy! If you want to try and bring some of the less interactive museums to life a bit for them, then there are companies specialising in family tours. Familes visiting the Uffizi Gallery could book a tour with an art historian, for example, who is trained in bringing the art on the walls to life and making what is often a child’s first trip to an art gallery both fun and interactive.
Similar tours can be arranged outdoors too. Guides can take you on walking tours around the city streets, introducing you and your children to some of the stories and legends that surround this amazing city.
For those whose children who prefer not to walk, how about taking a tour on one of the ‘hop on, hop off’ buses. Free headsets are provided so that you can enjoy a running commentary along the 16km route. With 15 stops en route, you can choose where to get on and off.
Of course, also outdoors, there are plenty of gardens for them to explore and run around in. Whilst they may not appreciate the beauty and elegance of the Boboli gardens, they should enjoy exploring the 111 acres of gardens crammed with forests, lawns, mazes, grottoes, paths and fountains, whilst the grown-ups can admire it’s design.
For those parents whose youngsters just aren’t old enough to appreciate the sights and sounds of Florence, why not think about enrolling them on a cookery course for the day whilst you explore the city in peace? Bookings For You are proud to work with Laura, a trained chef with a young daughter of her own. She would be delighted to entertain your children for an afternoon or a day, teaching them how to make delicious pizzas, bread or Italian cakes. She will also help them to set the table for your return so that you can enjoy afternoon tea or an early evening meal together, sampling what they have created during the day. Please ask for more information.
Of course, talking of food, what visit to Italy would be complete without a thorough sampling of the gelato on offer! Supposedly created for the Medici’s, Florence lays claim to its invention which is sure to keep any child going through the day! Head to the Piazza Repubblica to eat them so that the children can enjoy a ride on the traditional carousel there too.