When my son and I moved to Florence last autumn I naively dismissed the tales of the cold, wet Florentine winters with a cynical wave of my hand. “I’m from England,” I replied. “I’m sure I can handle it.” Having spent a long, hot summer here darting between the shady spots of the many piazzas I couldn’t envision us roaming the streets of Florence in big coats and woolly hats. So you can imagine my surprise when winter hit, the heavens opened and the city became awash with tourists in waterproof ponchos as the Arno river gushed and swelled. Fortunately, the resourcefulness we acquire as mums has led me to discover some charming activities for kids here, come rain or shine.
1. La Specola
Located near the Pitti Palace, La Specola Museum is a wondrous treasure trove of artefacts and animals that amaze and delight children, especially those with a keen interest in science. One of the oldest scientific museums in Europe, its collection features everything from exotic beetles and butterflies to strange puffer fish, reptiles and, of course, lions, tigers and bears. Bring along a sketch book and the outing can double up as an art trip, entertaining even the shortest of attention spans.
Via Romana 17, Florence
2. Mondo Bimbo, Parterre
Sometimes children just need to let off some steam. Fortunately, Mondo Bimbo is a little gold mine located near piazza Libertà and it’s the perfect place for them to do it. Boasting a wide range of equipment to play, jump, bounce and generally be hyperactive on, it’s the ideal spot to giocare all day long. My son—and I—particularly enjoy the bouncy castles, trampolines and air hockey tables. Not only will your kids have fun but it is a great workout for you too if you decide to join them in a game of tag!
Via Madonna delle Tosse, Florence
A mini paradise of entertainment, sometimes you just cannot beat the classic family fun that a good game of bowling can provide. Situated next to a huge UCI cinema and surrounded by family-friendly restaurants, JoyVillage is sure to become a favourite spot for your little minions. One word of advice though: put up the lane barriers and watch out for those competitive young spirits.
Via del Cavallaccio 3, Florence
4. The Harold Acton Library at The British Institute
In this day and age we sometimes forget the importance of books and get easily caught up in the instant entertainment accessible to children in the form of video games. But the magic within the pages of a book is still alive and should never be underestimated. Take your little ones to the Harold Acton Library, let them search for whatever ignites their imaginations, followed by a group storytime. A charming way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Lungarno Guicciardini 9, Florence
5. Fosso Bandito
A popular place with Florentines, Sundays are especially atmospheric at Fosso Bandito, a pizzeria on the outskirts of the Cascine park. The restaurant is one of the few places in Florence with a good children’s menu and in between spouts of rain your kids can play in the park or on one of the foosball tables. Try to plan your trip to coincide with some of the events here, including the resident clown who you can regularly find unicycling his way round the grounds and children’s shows.
Via del Fosso Macinante 4, Florence
6. Palazzo Vecchio, Art Classes For Families
We are surrounded by art in Florence and there is nothing more satisfying for a parent than to see their children creating their own little masterpieces. The City of Florence runs regular art classes for residents and tourists; everything from creating sculptures to painting frescoes. Gather with a group of children of all ages and watch as your little ones get immersed in their own little world of creativity. Classes start from only 4 euro a session. Next sessions: February 19 and March 12, 2017.