If you think it’s hard to enjoy art-intensive cities with children, I promise Florence will change your mind.
Florence’s historic centre is an open-air museum, which you can fully explore on foot whilst entertaining the bambini with plenty of fun and interesting activities. Tuscany has something for the whole family, so let me let you in on what Florence and its surrounding area offers for the littl’uns.
Whether it’s a picnic on a children’s farm or an adrenaline-pumped day at a theme park, these ideas won’t fail to disappoint!
1. Lunch on the Fiesole hills: Fattoria di Maiano a few minutes from the city centre.
A must if you come to Florence with children, particularly in the spring and summer.
Fattoria di Maiano is something you really don’t expect to be a few minutes away from a large city. The farm stands in the middle of the green countryside, with free-range animals, a botanical garden, a pond and tower, trekking routes, learning activities, a swimming pool, and its own local products.
Escape from it all and explore the Botanical Garden. Picnic on the baskets sold on the farm. There are many free areas with tables and benches in the shade of the olive trees.
The farmhouse also provides accommodation options, with rooms and apartments for tourist stays, an outdoor swimming pool, and a renowned restaurant that offers excellent typical Florentine specialities.
Where: Via Benedetto da Maiano 11, Fiesole. About 15 minutes from central Florence by car. Tel: (+39) 05559432
2. IL Gigante Theme Park
The Il Gigante Theme Park, the largest in Tuscany, is about 20 minutes from Florence.
The park is in the middle of a forest on the Florence hills, which also has a bar offering sandwiches, drinks, coffee, and eating areas.
The park offers 18 routes for adventure-loving children (from the age of 3) and adults. All the equipment to complete the routes is provided on-site. There is a large free parking area in front of the entrance, and the beautiful Villa Demidoff park/museum is across the street. Entry to Villa Demidoff park is free.
There children can see the huge COLOSSO dell’APPENNINO statue, as well as other smaller statues scattered all over the park.
Where: Via Fiorentina, 276, 50036 Vaglia (FI)
3. Take a river trip down the Arno
If you are looking for a romantic activity different from the usual tours on foot, you will love this. Trips are made on small boats, similar to gondolas, and take about one hour. Italian and sometimes bilingual (usually Italian and English) are available.
The view from the boat is unique, and if you are an amateur photographer, you’ll be able to take some fantastic pictures, especially at sunset.
4. Climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo
Those 463 steps didn’t scare you away, did they? Challenge the children to climb up to the top: the view is spectacular! Tickets to the dome can be easily bought online or on-site. I recommend buying them well in advance, particularly in the high season (summer).
Where: Piazza del Duomo, Florence
5. Rose Garden below Piazzale Michelangelo
The beautiful Rose Garden is below the famous Piazzale Michelangelo. Entrance is free.
The garden is open throughout the year from 9 am to 8 pm, but the best time to go is when the roses are blooming. It’s a must for those taking Instagram shots in Florence. The views are breath-taking!
The garden is a 20-minute walk from the city centre (but bear in mind that it’s a rather steep slope). Driving is another option – the taxi fare is pretty cheap.
Where: Viale giuseppe Poggi 2, Florence.
6. Visiting the historic centre with PARTECIPART
Your children are not excited by the idea of so many monuments, statues, and museums? No problem. The all-women team at Partecipart will solve the problem.
Who are they? Eugenia, Francesca, Laura, and Marta, 4 young friends who are art historians and tourist guides, have created “experiences” and tours adapted to every family.
Quizzes, treasure hunts, DIY kits with pencils, maps, and competitions to do with the children, as well as guided visits to the main museums in Florence to learn about the works of art there in a fun way. The Partecipart speak Italian, Spanish, French, German, and English.
Contact: Eugenia (+39) 3204093941-Francesca (+39) 3387172178-LAURA (+39) 3661856259-MARTA (+39) 3337613187
7. Try your luck at the Fontana del Porcellino
When you are walking through the streets in the city centre, towards Mercato Nuovo, try your luck at Fontana del Porcellino.
The tradition is this: take a coin and pet the snout of the bronze boar after whom the fountain is named, then drop the coin. If it falls on the drain, Fortune will smile on you.
Where: Piazza del Mercato Nuovo
8. Try machines invented by Leonardo da Vinci
When I think about museums, the first thing that comes to mind is “Do not touch”, “No photographs”, and so many other “NO” signs. Not exactly suitable for children, is it?
For this reason, when I travel with my kid, I’m always on the lookout for interactive museums where he can do fun, age-appropriate activities. In Florence there are so many museums that offer family experiences – one of our favourites is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum.
Here you will find the reproductions of the most famous machines invented by the Florentine genius, and activate all the fully-functional mechanisms. Our favourite is the Large Tank.
The museum also has an interactive laboratory area where you can try to build Leonardo’s inventions, such as the Self-Supporting Dome or The Bridge. Will you succeed, or will it all come tumbling down?
Where: Via dei servi, 66/r. Tel: (+39) 055282966
9. Dinner in Piazza Santa Maria Novella- Ristorante LA BOTTEGA
In Florence you can eat well practically anywhere, but our favourite sport is romantic and welcoming, directly on piazza di Santa Maria Novella.
La Bottega is a historic restaurant in the Florence city centre, combining typical Tuscan dishes with the delicious Sardinian cooking, perfectly cooked using high-quality ingredients.
Their pizza is made using a slow-raising natural yeast dough, and is delicious. Grazziano, the owner, will be happy to give you his recommendations.
Where: P.za di Santa Maria Novella, Florence. Tel: (+39) 055282438
10. Write a tiny love letter at Dante and Beatrice’s church
We all know about Dante’s love story with Beatrice. But if you are not Florentine, you may overlook this little-known church where Dante first saw Beatrice for the first time as a boy.
Santa Margherita dei Cerchi is the church on via Santa Margherita which is also known as Dante and Beatrice’s church, because it is said that it is here that Dante first saw and fell madly in love with her, at the age of 9.
Interesting fact: inside the church there’s a pink basket where anyone can leave a slip stating their love or something nice. Bring paper and pen and ask the children to draw or write something. That will be a good excuse to go into the church ;).
Now that you know how to have fun with children in one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, all you have to do is find a cheap flight and explore the wonderful Tuscany!