Keeping kids entertained is never as easy as one would like to think. Especially now as schools will remain closed until September, I find myself scrambling to come up with child-friendly activities on a daily basis—or, rather, activities that will keep my kids busy and tire them out at the same time. The days are thankfully getting longer and warmer (and I’ve pretty much exhausted every indoor activity I could come up with), so why not take advantage of the beautiful parks that Florence has to offer. The wonderful aspect of the parks on this list is that parents will enjoy them too.
The Boboli Gardens have finally re-opened after two months of being closed, and they are currently tourist-free. I can’t remember a time when there was no line outside of Palazzo Pitti, as curious visitors moved one step closer to the ticket office under the blazing sun. Alas, there are no tourists in Florence right now, though the silver lining is that Florentines have Florence to themselves for a short while. I took my son to Boboli on a Wednesday afternoon, and there were approximately ten people visiting, including ourselves. This gave my son the chance to run up and down the tree-lined roads, roll around in the grass and enjoy being outside surrounded by so much beauty and nature. As parents keep one eye on their kids, they can use the other eye to take in the mesmerizing architecture, sculptures and lush vegetation that adorns the park. Entrance is free for Florentine residents and for kids under 18.
Villa il Ventaglio
The park of Villa Il Ventaglio is one of my absolute favorites. I might be biased since I grew up down the street and spent many a day there, but I highly recommend visiting and taking your children there, if you haven’t already. It is a private park (though it’s free), so there are some rules to be respected: mainly no bicycles, roller-skates, balls and picnics. Visitors can enjoy a romantic duck pond, large grassy areas where kids can play and a breathtaking view of Florence as you walk towards the park’s upper level. And if you’re interested in a little history, the park itself was designed by Giuseppe Poggi (the same Giuseppe Poggi who designed Florence’s boulevards and the viale dei Colli), who was also in charge of restructuring the villa found at the top of the park.
Villa Demidoff + Pratolino Park
Colosso dell’Appennino by Giambologna @auto_psy via IG
If you’re searching for a park a little outside of Florence, then I suggest visiting the beautiful Villa Demidoff and Park of Pratolino, located approximately 20 minutes from the city center by car and about 50 minutes by bus. Not only is it great for hiking and animal watching, it is also a fun place to visit with kids, as they can be immersed in nature and enjoy themselves at the same time. Parents can also make the outing an informative one, as there is a great deal of history and culture engulfed in the park. The Medici, the Lorraine and the Russian family of the Demidoff all owned and lived in the villa at some point, transforming it into the splendor it is today. Perhaps the most famous attraction is the Colosso dell’Appennino by Giambologna (restored and placed back in its original location in 2014), although there are many other points of interest, such as the grottoes and the Scuderie del Buontalenti, which were re-opened to the public in 2017. As we go to press, Pratolino remained close with the intention to welcome visitors back in early June. Keep an eye on www.cittametropolitana.fi.it/parco-mediceo-di-pratolino for details.
Villa Favard and the surrounding gardens are located in the Rovezzano area, east of the city center, and easily reachable by car or bus. The villa, once the residence of Baroness Favard, is now the headquarters of the Music Conservatory of Florence, Luigi Cherubini. The park is publicly owned and can be visited and enjoyed by everyone, free of charge. As in the case of Villa il Ventaglio, Villa Favard and the grounds were designed and renovated by Giuseppe Poggi. Today, the park is a delightful green area on the outskirts of Florence, which comes equipped with a jungle-gym, hiking paths, dog-friendly areas and lots of grassy spots for kids to run free. It is also a favorite spot for children’s birthday parties, should you be looking for an outdoor space to throw a socially distanced party!