Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Traveling to Tuscany with Kids: part 2

photo: Mus.e
Every parent’s nightmare when they are on vacation is to hear a whining voice say, “I am bored! When can we leave?!!” The idea of having to cater to your kids on a European vacation might be enough to stop you in your tracks, long before booking your trip. But the good news is that you don’t have to pass up a fantastic trip to Italy just because you’ll have your kids with you! 

We work with a lot of families, so that means lots of kids, too! That’s why we know how important it is to create itineraries that can keep the younger generation engaged. For adults, Tuscany is a sort of Disneyland: beautiful scenery, great food, extraordinary wine, art, history, etc… But if you are traveling with your children it might put a damper on your enjoyment - unless they have fun too! 

Our first recommendation for families is to rent a villa, since this is the best way to have loads of extra space for the kids (indoors and out) without having to compromise on the beauty and luxury of your accommodation. Next, you need to plan an itinerary that is FUN. That’s why we have a slew of family activities which will keep the kids busy and happy, but will also be interesting for the parents. In fact, some might already be on the adults’ bucket list! 

Here are a few suggestions we know work well (because we arrange them for our clients and have seen plenty of happy kids enjoy them!):

Take a Fresco Making Class 

Florence is full of churches and monuments whose walls and ceilings are decorated with stunning frescos. After seeing some of the impressive originals fist hand, you will go to an artisan’s workshop to learn how frescos are made and try your hand at producing your own using the same technique as the Renaissance masters. This is an activity for all ages, where families can work together to create their personalized souvenir to take back home.

Take a Cooking Class or a Pizza Making Lesson

Kids love to get their hands “dirty” - which means kneading dough is right up their ally! You’d be amazed at how much children enjoy cooking classes. Whether they are making pizza and foccaccia, homemade tagliatelle pasta or a tiramisù, you’ll see smiling faces as they do their best to prepare some of Italy’s signature dishes. With the right teacher, and the appropriate setting, a day in the kitchen can turn out to be one of the most memorable experiences of a family vacation. 

Visit a Working Farm 

In Tuscany, most farms are actually vineyards or olive estates. But there are some that also have animals. Besides the typical barn animals like sheep, goats, pigs and chickens you will also be able to see some of the local breeds: Chianina cattle (white cows!), wild boar and  Cinta Senese pigs, to name a few. You can visit the farm, taste the wine and enjoy an organic, home-grown, traditional Tuscan lunch in a beautiful setting - so it’s another fun day for the whole family!

Go on a Treasure Hunt

Children love playing this game, so why not do it in the historical center of the Renaissance capital?! The whole family can participate (and if you are a large group, you can split up into 2 teams to make it more of a challenge). It’s a great way to learn some history, explore the city and have fun with the kids. You will be given a list of clues to help you locate and identify some of the secret treasures in Florence. See who can find the most before your time expires!

Go on a Castle Wine Tour 

Just about all adult visitors want to go to at least one winery while they are in Tuscany. But if you are traveling with younger children you might think that it’s not such a great idea. Well, here is where being in Tuscany really lends a hand. Don’t visit just any winery, choose a castle! Kids will find an ancient castle wine cellar fascinating, especially since it’s the real thing (not an amusement park replica). Then, during the wine tasting that follows the cellar tour, the under-age crowd can run around in the gardens while you sit and sip your Chianti! Once again, everyone’s happy! 

Take a Guided Tour 

Whether it’s visiting a museum, a city or a hill town, don’t underestimate the benefits of taking a guided tour. 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 wonderful way for the whole family to have an enriching experience together. 

If you still need a few more ideas, you can refer to our previous posts on the topic: Traveling to Tuscany with Kids and 10 Great Things to Do in Florence with Kids.

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