Monday, April 3, 2017

10 Great Things to Do in Florence with Kids

Florence is known throughout the world for its museums, and no visit to the Renaissance capital would be complete without a tour of the Uffizi and Accademia galleries. For adults, the choices of  where to see fabulous art and learn about history are many. However, most people don’t know that Florence also offers its younger visitors a great array of cultural enrichment, which is geared specifically to them, making it fun. This is good news for families travelling with their kids. Coming to Florence can be a wonderful experience for everyone, and if you include some of the following museums and activities in your itinerary, your children will surely appreciate it.

1. Museo dei Ragazzi
The name says it all: The Children’s Museum. This is a fantastic way to show your kids Florence. In the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio (in Piazza della Signoria) there is  a world to be discovered by the whole family. Tour the Palace with a guide in period costume who impersonates a historical figure and tells you (and your children) the fascinating secrets of its history while showing you the art, rooms and hidden chambers of the Palazzo.
Walk high above the Great Hall through the trusses that support the roof of the beautiful Sala del Cinquecento and admire the impressive gilt coffering of its ceiling. This is truly a memorable experience for all. Then enter the cellars of the Palace to discover the remains of the ancient Roman theater that lies beneath the building’s foundations.
There are also possibilities for hands-on activities that include an introduction to Renaissance painting and other special workshops organized throughout the year. Reservations are required.

2. Museo di Storia Naturale “La Specola

The Museum of Natural History is located near the Pitti Palace. It is the oldest scientific museum in Europe, dating back to the time of the Medici family. The museum is famous not only for its zoological collection but especially for the realistic wax anatomical models developed in the 17th century for teaching medicine. On display are also fossils, scientific and medical instruments, precious stones, and more.

3. Il Museo Galileo

This museum, located near the Ponte Vecchio, is dedicated to the great genius Galileo Galilei. Recently completely renovated, it has received international acclaim and prestigious awards for its contribution to promoting the sciences. Besides the many objects on display, there are new and exciting multimedia exhibits and interactive installations. The extraordinary architectural beauty of the museum enhances the experience.

4. The Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower

Something that is a must with kids is to visit the Duomo (Florence’s cathedral) and climb up to the top of the dome. The experience of the climb brings to life the enormity of the structure and even children can understand the scope of this architectural achievement. Once you reach the top you can view the church from above and then go outside to the terrace to enjoy the most amazing aerial views of the city. As your kids will agree, it’s just plain cool! Visiting Giotto’s Bell Tower is another good idea. The 414 step climb to the top offers great close up views of the Cathedral’s dome as well as of the city. 

5. The Stibbert  Museum

This museum, formerly a private villa (which in itself is worth the visit), has a vast collection of art and artifacts from around the world.  It houses the most extensive collection of arms and armor in Europe, representing both the west and the orient. The impressive cavalcade room is filled with knights on model horses and soldiers wearing armor. Also worth mention are the costume gallery and the collections of tapestries, porcelains, antique furniture and paintings that decorate the mansion.

6. A Guided City Tour

Don’t underestimate the benefits of taking a guided tour of the city. When you have children in tow this is even more useful, because a good guide knows how to involve the kids, telling them stories and pointing out interesting things that will entertain them and rouse their curiosity. It's a way for the whole family to have an enriching experience together. 

7. Museo Archeologico di Firenze

The Archeological Museum of Florence houses a vast collection of Etruscan, Roman and Greek artifacts. There is an Egyptian gallery, with the second largest collection in Italy of over 14,000 artifacts – including mummies, sarcophagi, tombs and architectural ruins.
8. Museo Davanzati

Also worth mentioning is a visit to  Museo Davanzati “The Antique Florentine Home” – which spurs the imagination by providing an interesting journey into the past where you can see (even if only in part) the home of  a wealthy Florentine family from the early Renaissance. Seeing how people lived over 500 years ago is interesting for everyone, and helps to bring history to life.

9. Visit the City’s Gardens and Parks:

The famous Boboli Gardens offer plenty of space for kids to run and play – there are also grottos, hedge mazes, statues and ponds. Everyone can enjoy the beauty of the park and its impressive views of Florence.
Near the city center, The Cascine Park is huge and has play areas with swings and slides for the kids.

10. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

This is last on the list only because it's the newest addition to Florence's fabulous array of museums. Kids and adults will both find it fascinating - for its magnificent collection of art and its outstanding contemporary architecture. From the great hall which houses a life-size replica of the medieval facade of the cathedral, as well as Ghiberti's original bronze doors from the baptistery, to an incredible collection of sculptures and artifacts, the scope of this museum is impressive. The "Gallery of the Cupola" (featuring models of Brunelleschi's dome) and the wonderful view of the real dome from the upper terrace, are only a few reasons this has become an attraction not to missed. The museum ticket also includes entrance to the Baptistery, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Crypt of Santa Reparata beneath the Duomo, and the climb to the top of the dome - and it's valid for 48 hours from the first entrance. 

After your stay in Florence, don't be afraid to leave the city to explore the Tuscan countryside; there is definitely no shortage of things to do with the whole family! 

Read our other posts about:
Traveling to Tuscany with Kids
Traveling to Tuscany with Kids - part 2

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