The Florentine says a massive thank-you to everyone who contributed to this article, including Firenze Moms4Moms and Baby Bottega.
Florence does not have the best reputation when it comes to children’s activities. Maybe it’s because of the haute culture, the myriad museums and churches, or perhaps it’s simply the getting around that sometimes causes negativity among parents: after all, pushing a buggy over medieval cobblestones is not high on the list of anybody’s fun things to do. Climbing the Cupola with toddlers is a no go, as is the hike up to the Piazzale. But Florence can be fun for kids and adults alike. Here’s the proof: 12 things to do with kids in Florence.
# 1/ A day at the farm
Make new furry and feathered friends out at Fattoria di Maiano (via Cave di Maiano, 2): ducks, geese, kid goats, ostriches, donkeys and cows will delight your kids. Stroll through the olive groves and circle the calming lake, set in a former pietra serena quarry. Don’t miss the recently reopened Parco Romantica della Regina, a botanic garden taking its name from Queen Victoria’s 1893 visit. Jump in a Jeep for a family farm safari or relax with a picnic. A fun fact for film buffs: James Ivory shot scenes for A Room with a View in the villa. Entrance costs 7 euro for adults and is free for children under the age of 4. Open every day from 9.30am to 6.30pm.
fattoriadimaiano.com / 055 599600
# 2/ Park life
Isolotto’s Villa Vogel (via delle Torri, 23, with a separate entrance on via Canova) park is a city favourite: much more than just a standard playground with swings, it has trampolines, go-karts, a duck pond, carousel and picnic benches. Grab a gelato at the bar or plan a birthday party in the room next door. Got budding bikers in the family? The wide, well-paved paths are the ideal place to finally ditch the training wheels. For more information on all the children’s activities organized in the park, check out the posters regularly displayed there. An added bonus: the park offers free Wi-Fi for busy parents. Open every day from 8am to 8pm in May, from 8 am to midnight from June to September. q4.comune.fi.it / 055 5122026
# 3/ Dabble in experiments
Amazing instruments, globes and anatomic models: at the Galileo Museum (piazza dei Giudici 1), children can touch replicas of the museum’s vast collection of objects. Tour guides explain the functions and historical importance behind the objects, and there’s also a demonstration of how electricity works. Children can carry on enjoying their visit afterwards thanks to the online science games on the Galileo Museum website. Open every day from 9.30am to 6pm; 9.30am to 1pm on Tuesdays. Tickets cost 9 euro for adults; 6-18 years 5.50 euro; free under 6 years. museogalileo.it / 055 265311
# 4/ Old palace, new tricks
The Palazzo Vecchio has its own children’s museum; well, actually it’s just a live interpretation of a historical space for kids and parents alike. Interactive theatre workshops introduce the idea that museums are not merely containers of old things but rather a place where stories are told, like a contemporary fairytale. Pay for a ‘turtle’ family kit (5 euro) for children aged +6 years: it includes a map, binoculars, a Medici family album, feather hats and crowns as well as pencils to draw a memory of your family day out. Open every day from 9am to 6pm. musefirenze.it / 055 2768224
# 5/ Go swing
Go airborne! Swing through tree tops, balance on trunks, zoom down a zip line: adventure awaits at Parco Avventura Il Gigante (via Fiorentina, 276, Vaglia). Conquer 10 high ropes course elements, all with certified safety equipment and a briefing available in English. Open every day from 10am to sunset; closed on rainy or windy days. Tickets cost 18 euro for adults and are age-based for kids. parcoavventurailgigante.it / 320 3261243
# 6/ Bike + eat
If the cobblestones have worn you and your little ones out, rent a bike or stroller from Baby Bottega (via il Prato 53-55R). The specially designed two-wheelers give you freedom and comfort to sightsee, exercise and discover Florence in an eco-friendly way. Nearby, indulge in Mexican food at Tijuana (via il Prato 57R + via Ghibellina 156R), while your kids can live it up with a special children’s kit complete with masks and comics. Babybottega.com / 055 286091 Ristorantetijuana.it / 055 2341330
# 7/ Play, dance, sing
In the Coverciano area, Il Vivaio del Malcantone is a space worth discovering for children and parents. Every Tuesday, little ones can express themselves at Giocomusica, a fun-filled workshop that celebrates movement and rhythm. To encourage personal growth, check out the children’s gardening workshops, promoting green values at an early age. Also offering dance classes, Amber Bell explores different music genres every Tuesday at via Guelfa 116 (Radici Yoga) for children aged between 6 and 9. Classes 10 euro each or 4 for 34 euro. ilvivaiodelmalcantone.com / 3393043656 / FB page Amber Bell Dance Firenze / 380 2689288
# 8/ Dog days
At Accademia Cinofila Fiorentina (via Vicinale di Golena), check out the fun activities like ‘Baby Reporter,’ whereby kids have an introduction to photography and video making, and ‘Baby Farmer,’ planting seeds, looking after them and taking the fruits of their labours home with them at the end of the month-long program. Plus, parents can benefit from a free course aimed at instructing about the importance of household pets in the family home. Children can meet the animals who live on the farm and learn how to speak ‘dog’ and teach canine obedience. Prices begin at 10 euro.
accademiacinofilafiorentina.it / 338 1241514
# 9/ Saddle up!
If your child is a horse lover, saddle him/her up at Centro Ippico Toscano (via de’ Vespucci 5) at the western end of the Cascine park. The centre welcomes new riders for their first equine experience with professional instructors always on hand to guide kids and adults alike. More than 140 horses and 100 years of history ensure a great day out on four hooves for the whole family. centroippicotoscano.it / 055 315621
# 10/ Meeting moms
Looking for other like-minded moms in Tuscany? Firenze Moms4Moms is a group of English-speaking mothers that meets regularly in various child-friendly places around Florence. The network is as active online as it is in the flesh: the blog and Facebook page are kept up to date with useful information for expat families in Florence and Tuscany. Founded in 2004, becoming a member costs nothing; you just sign up on the website.
# 11/ Make waves
When the city’s most popular pools become packed, head for Florence’s smaller wetlands such as Micropiscina Isolotto (via Baccio Bandinelli 61), where children can learn how to swim or play water polo all year round, or FLOG Poggetto (via Michele Mercati 24B) in the Rifredi neighbourhoods, which was recently renovated and offers synchronized swimming, water polo and normal swimming lessons from late May. piscinaisolotto.com / 055 719073 FB page PiscinaPoggetto / 335 5867009
# 12/ Kick it
If your child has a dream of becoming the next Batistuta or Beckham, ACF Fiorentina has taken a step in helping them realize their potential. From June 15, Fiorentina summer camps will be held in 23 locations in Italy and abroad, including Serbia, Switzerland and Croatia. Aimed at boys and girls from the ages of six to fifteen, the camp will focus on shared values, such as commitment, discipline and respect. There are two options for Fiorentina Camp: daily or weekly. Prices begin at 280 euro. fiorentinacamp.it / 331 3177510
More ‘Kidbits’*From April 17 to 19, the second edition of Festival dei Bambini proved a huge success in Florence. Thousands of children and their parents enjoyed Galileo puppet shows at La Specola, free gelato and yoga, baby reporter workshops, storytelling at Caffè Letterario delle Murate, learning morse code and 3-D printing, among other cool activities.
*Festival d’Europa will be held in Florence from May 6 to 10, with its focus on tomorrow’s Europe. Thousands of students are expected to take part in the busy five-day schedule of exhibitions, concerts, debates, workshops and installations in Florence’s city centre as well as at Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the University of Florence and countless other venues including local schools.
*In 2011, Florence shot to the top of the children’s charts, rating higher than any other European city for its kids’ activities in the Travelers’ Choice Family Awards, based on independent reviews and opinions.
*On average, 7,500 kids ride on the historic carousel in piazza della Repubblica every month.