Florence and Tuscany

Florence – For Toddlers

Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo – This incredible viewing area makes a fantastic  stop if you want to take in the beauty of Florence. The famous square offers stunning views of the city below, as well as an opportunity for little ones and enjoy a delicious gelato.

Ride an antique carousel at the Piazza della Repubblica – This square is right in the centre of Florence and is surrounded by restaurants and shops. The antique carousel in the square is a fine way for young travellers to take a break from sight-seeing.  Nearby is Bartolucci, the wooden toy workshop and shop where you can find  Pinocchio souvenirs made for generations by the Bartolucci family.

Eat Ice-Cream –  Italy is the birthplace of ice cream and Florence is stuffed full of Gelaterias. Locals love Gelateria la Carraia.

The Children’s Museum – The Museo dei Ragazzi  is a Children’s Museum in Palazzo Vecchio, with its wonderful mix of stories, lavish costumes and glimpses of the lives of the powerful Medici family. An option for older kids is the Museo Leonardo da Vinci which displays replicas of the artist’s inventions—the printing press, mortar cannon and gears.

Take a Cooking Lesson – A kids’ cooking lesson in making pizza, pasta, chocolate or ice-cream in the Hotel’s Il Palagio kitchen is a tremendous way to engage all ages—from toddlers to teens.

Take a Dip – Most hotels and apartments in Florence do not have swimming pools and visiting a public pool is a great way to cool off.  Piscina Goffredo Nannini is located at Lungarno Aldo Moro, 6, 50136 Firenze and Piscina Comunale Costoli is located at Viale Pasquale Paoli, 9, Firenze.  Picina Isolotto is located the outskirts of the city at Via Baccio Bandinelli, 61, Firenze and is accessible by car or bus. You wont find splash pools however there are shallower areas which are suitable for toddlers.

Florence – Sites for the Whole Family

Cathedrals – Every Tuscan city has a cathedral (duomo), each one prettier than the other.  The Duomo in Florence (Santa Maria Del Fiore) is probably the most famous and is well worth visiting. There are step up to the Cathedral and once inside it can get very busy so a baby carrier is advisable if possible. The Baptistry lies in the square just outside the main entrance and its ornate doors, designed by Pisano and Ghiberti are exquisite. Adjacent to the Duomo lies Ghiotto’s tower. You can climb the tower for a magnificent 360-degree view of the Duomo, Florence, and the surrounding area.€6 entrance fee (May 2011), and requires some tenacity to climb 414 steps, particularly with a baby or toddler in tow! The Cathedral in Sienna is also spectacular, and again there are plenty of steps so bring a baby carrier if you plan on exploring inside.

David Michelangelo’s masterpiece is in the Galleria dell’Accademia delle Bella Arti in Florence. There is a copy in Florence outside the Palazzo Vecchio on Piazza della Signoria.  

The Leaning Tower of Pisa The instantly recognizable landmark is in Pisa on the square of miracles, Piazza dei miracoli.

Santa Maria Novella (near the train station) – This is a beautiful church which contains great artwork, including a recently restored Trinity by Masaccio. Also, the Chiostro Verde, to your left when facing the front entrance of the church, contains frescoes by Paolo Uccello which are quite unusual in style and well worth seeing, if the separate entrance is open. Off of the church’s cloister is the wonderful Spanish Chapel which is covered in early Renaissance frescoes.

Ponte Vecchio – This is the oldest and most famous bridge over the Arno; the only Florentine bridge to survive WW2. The Ponte Vecchio (literally “old bridge”) is lined with shops, traditionally mostly jewellers since the days of the Medici. Vasari’s elevated walkway crosses the Arno over the Ponte Vecchio, connecting the Uffizi to the old Medici palace.

Boboli Gardens

The Piti Palace and the Boboli Gardens – The palace was home to the Medici family and tours are availoable daily. Make sure you bring your baby carrier if you plan to visit the apartments as there are plenty of steps. The gardens are  located behind the palace and are elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures, behind the Pitti Palace. Wonderful city views. Don’t miss the Bardini gardens. Entrance to that is included in the combination ticket price for the Boboli, and it’s a short walk from the Boboli Gardens. There are great views of the Duomo from the Bardini gardens. A single adult ticket to the gardens costs €7.

For those interested in fashion, The Gucci Museo is home to an extensive collection chronicling the heritage of the luxury fashion house, now offers CreaKids, four educational itineraries and hands-on workshops designed to help children ages 5–12 understand the evolution and importance of fashion through the ages.

Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo square) – This plaza is set on a hilltop with a great view of the city (go there by bus) or climb the stairs and paths from the Lungarno della Zecca.

Museo Galileo (formally named Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, Piazza dei Giudici,1) – Located in Florence the museum contains 5000 items from the Medici collection of apparatus and scientific instruments and the Lorenese collection of instruments and didactic and experimental devices.

Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, Castello dei Conti Guidi, 50053 VINCI – FI  (the Museum is open every day from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.) – Located in the medieval Castello Guidi (11-12 cen.), the Leonardo’s Museum dominates the small city of Vinci. View Da Vinci’s works, browse through the library, and more.

Explore Tuscany

The hill towns of Chianti are well worth exploring. Greve in Chianti is very picturesque.Most of these towns are comprised of a center  without cars, making exploration toddler-friendly. Bear in mind that many of the towns in Tuscany will have hills, steps and cobblestone streets so you may find yourself carrying your stroller at times. A baby carrier can come in handy while exploring.

Visiting Siena with children is  enjoyable. Much of the city is pedestrianized and you can visit the Piazza del Campo for a gelato or let the children run around or go exploring in the narrow streets around it. There are also plenty of parks and playgrounds in the city. There is also a children’s art museum located accross from the Duomo and a natural history museum.  Click here for more information  on the best parks and public pools to visit in Sienna.

The Leaning Tower has made Pisa famous all over the world, and in addition to the tower, the city offers many other interesting things to see worth at least an entire day. There is also a beach on the outskirts of the city and plenty of green areas for toddlers to run around.

San Gimignano, a small walled village about halfway between Florence and Siena, is famous for its fascinating medieval architecture and towers that rise above of all the other buildings offering an impressive view of the city from the surrounding valley. This stunning village is well worth a visit however, there are plenty of hills so be prepared.

Visit Lucca

Lucca is one of the cities most loved all of Tuscany and can be visited in a day. It is also a great base to explore central or north Tuscany. The city is located on a plain at the foot of the Apuan Alps and is less than half an hour from the coast of Versilia. Since it isn’t a hilltop village, it is ideal for strollers. The city is very easy to reach both by car as well as train from both Pisa and Florence.

The city of Pistoia is located in northern Tuscany, halfway between Florence and Lucca, about 40 km away from each.The area of Pistoia  is very well known for the cultivation of plants and flowers exported all over the world and it is also famous for its chocolate.

The Zoo of Pistoia and to the Pinocchio Park in Collodi (see parks and gardens, below), with its adjacent Garzoni Garden are perfect for toddlers. Another great option is the Fattoria di Celle, a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden with contemporary works of art that are part of its environment (book ahead of time if you are visiting).

Beaches in Tuscany

There are plenty of beaches on the Tuscan coastline and along the North West coast which are perfect for families. If you are looking for a good beach holiday, Forte dei Marmi is an upscale, beach town on the border between Tuscany and Liguria and has sandy beaches, perfect for toddlers to paddle.

The Versilia is the area right along the Tuscan coast in the northwestern edge of the province of Lucca. It is widely known and popular for the fashionable resorts along its Riviera. The coastal shelf along this part of the Tuscan coast is really sandy and gradually slops into the sea, making it safe and perfect for paddling toddlers. It is easy to get to the Versilia and its beaches, as both the rail line and A12 highway run parallel to the coast.

Talamone is a charming coastal village in Maremma, located on the southern border of the Uccellina mountain range. Characterized by its ancient fortress, it has recently become a renowned seaside destination and its sandy beaches are bordered by pine woods. The bay of Talamone is also famous for windsurfing, kite-surfing and sailing. Lagoon’s Aquarium lies close to the harbor.

The island of Elba, off the Tuscan coast is another great option for under 4s and offers stunning beaches and family friendly accommodation. Ferries to Elba depart from Piombino.

Public Pools

Many cities have public pools which are ideal for a break from the city or to cool down on warm summer days. These pools usually have cafes, restaurants and snack bars and plenty of green space to run around.

In Florence, the following swimming pools are open to the public –

  • Piscina Goffredo Nannini is located at Lungarno Aldo Moro, 6, 50136 Firenze 
  • Piscina Comunale Costoli is located at Viale Pasquale Paoli, 9, Firenze. 
  • Picina Isolotto is located the outskirts of the city at Via Baccio Bandinelli, 61, Firenze and is accessible by car or bus.

You wont find splash pools however there are shallower areas which are suitable for toddlers.

Parks & Gardens

The National Park of the Tusco-Emilian Apennines: extends lengthwise for about 60 km from the high valleys of the mountain torrents of Parma and Baganza up to the Passo delle Forbici, opening up to include on the Tuscan side the calcareous massif of the Pania di Corfino, and in Emilia the chain of the Alps of Succiso, of Monte Cusna, the valley of the river Secchia and the isolated range of the Pietra di Bismantova.

The National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago : the Park was established in 1996 and it covers an area of over 18,000 hectares in addition to 40,000 hectares of sea. It is managed by an organization with the same name, that has its headquarters in Portoferraio (on Elba Island).

The National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna: Following the Arno upstream you enter the district of Casentino surrounded by mountains to the north and the east. Here the National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna offers a uniquely moving and unforgettable experience: that of discovering one of the oldest forests in Europe.

The Montioni nature park:  managed by the Municipale Administrations of Grosseto and Livorno. The park extends over 7000 hectares and rises to 300m at Poggio al Checco, its highest point. The territory has a large artistic and culture heritage, from ancient archeological finds to Etruscan and Roman remains which have been found under medieval constructions such as the Pievaccia, the ruins of Montioni Vecchio Castle and Montioni Thermal Baths.

The Livorno Hills Park : the Livorno Hills Park encompasses a vast area between the districts of Livorno, Collesalvetti and Rosignano Marittimo. It’s nickname is ‘the lost island’ due to the fact that this stretch of land was an island until it attached itself to the mainland thousands of years ago. The park has not only areas of outstanding natural beauty but also but has also been subject to interesting archeological, artistic and cultural discoveries.

The Archaeological Park of Poggibonsi : the visit starts with a short documentary film that illustrates the results of twelve years of excavation and the most important archaeological, architectonical and naturalistic aspects of the Poggio Imperiale site.

The Zoological Park of European Fauna in Poppi: this is the first and only park dedicated to European Fauna open in the municipality of Poppi (Arezzo).

The Pinocchio’s Park: Pinocchio’s Park is located in Collodi, lovely ancient village that has remained virtually unchanged since the last century. Its charming collection of houses, nestled among the hills, leads the way to Villa Garzoni and its lovely 19th century garden, often considered among the most beautiful in Europe.