HomeAway travel expert
Italians love babies and adore kids. If you’re traveling with children, you’ll be smiled at all the time, offered pasta before you order for yourself, and get free sweets at the bakery. Do be prepared for three less kid-friendly aspects of this country, however: first, that dinner is served quite late, so pack snacks; second, that sidewalks in cities, especially in Florence, are narrow and not ideal for pushing strollers; and thirdly, that public washrooms are sometimes hard to find, so you should carry your own tissues and handwash and be ready to boldly ask to use washrooms at cafès.
Otherwise, you’re in for a treat: Tuscany offers tons of opportunities for family fun.
Five ideas for family fun in Tuscany
Pinocchio Park, Collodi
The author who created the wooden child whose nose betrayed lies, Carlo Lorenzini, spent most of his life in the town of Collodi, where a Pinocchio-themed park was built in the 1950s, within an 18th century garden behind a beautiful villa. This is not your typical theme park with cotton candy and hot dogs, however. Tasteful statues, mosaics and structures evoke episodes of the book that you can discover as you walk through (come prepared by reading the story in advance). Beyond the manicured lawns and formal flower beds, there’s a butterfly house that contains a tropical garden in which you can freely walk and experience these ephemeral insects.
Parco della Maremma
One of the largest protected nature zones in Tuscany is the Parco della Maremma, along the Western coastline of the region, below Grosseto (www.parco-maremma.it). Its symbol is the wild boar, typical of Maremma, but you’re unlikely to run into one while walking on one of the park’s many well-signed hiking paths! However, you’ll be sure to observe smaller animals from friendly bugs to singing birds, and nature from tall trees to a very windy beach. Start your day by parking and getting information at the visitor centre in Alberese, where you'll choose and be bussed to the itinerary of your choice. Although food, water and facilities are available, it's best to pack drinks and a picnic.
Go to the beach!
Being so famous for its art cities, it’s easy to forget that Tuscany has a long, sandy coastline full of family-friendly bathing establishments. From the super organized beaches of Viareggio, with their swimming pools and kids’ play areas, to the slightly wilder ones of the southern part of the region like at Castiglione della Pescaia, Tuscany offers beaches that are perfect for mum, dad and the kids. Reserve an umbrella at a full-service bathing establishment or stay at a resort that offers a private beach, and you’ll be able to take advantage of activities for kids, and the water fitness and card tournaments held by many in July and August. These places all have washrooms and restaurants that are ideal for families.
Swing from trees
If you’re visiting Florence, take a break from the city to swing from the trees in one of two adventure parks nearby. Parco Avventura Vincigliata (www.treeexperience.it) or Grande Parco Avventura il Gigante (www.parcoavventurailgigante.it) both offer rope courses amongst the trees of the park, developed so that people of different ages and levels (ages three and up) can enjoy nature from the safety of a harness. To reach either, a taxi is recommended.
Palazzo Vecchio historical tours for families
In Florence, there are tons of museums, but your child might not be patient enough to go through many or any of them. Palazzo Vecchio brings a historical place to life with tours specifically for children and families. An actor in Renaissance costume will greet you and take you back in time, and you have to interact with him by speaking politely in faux-historical language! Activities are available in English with prior booking at this page; they suggest booking online as far ahead as possible to guarantee your language choice.