Taking kids to Italy may seem like a daunting task – fortunately we are here to help! Our next two award-winning newsletter issues are special reports on taking kids to Italy. The April 2016 issue of Dream of Italy covers how to plan you trip around the rhythm of an Italian day and profiles 30 great experiences for kids of all ages (adults too) – cooking classes, art lessons – in Italy’s 5 major cities. The May 2016 issue details where to stay and more than 30 experiences in the rest of Italy like Tuscany, the Lakes, the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. Article updated 2018.
Shannon Kenny, the founder of ItaliaKids.com, graciously provided us with five EXCELLENT bonus tips on the initial planning for a trip to Italy with children:
1. Purchase air travel itineraries that have you arriving and departing at convenient times as close to your destination as possible. It might be tempting to save a few hundred dollars by compromising on this and arriving somewhere less convenient, however, in the end this is likely to cost you just as much if not more in ground transfer costs and logistics.
2. When purchasing train tickets from the official Trenitalia website during high seasons for family travel such as spring and summer, kids can travel at no cost on Bimbi Gratis fares. Select fast trains (such as the Frecciarosa line), allow children under the age of 15 to travel for free when accompanied by an adult paying at the base fare. Be sure to select the “Bimbi Gratis” option when purchasing your fare.
3. When purchasing skip-the-line tickets for the Colosseum/Forum on the official state site, I like to advise families to spend the extra money to buy all full-rate tickets (rather than adult and child tickets), because this will give you the “print at home” option of receiving your tickets and allow you to enter the Colosseum avoiding lines altogether, whereas if you purchase any child tickets, you must go to the reservation window first to confirm your child’s age with identity documents. (Prefer to get a tour guide? One of our favorite tour companies offers child-friendly guides to the major sites in Italy’s five cities.)
4. Restaurants in Italy typically do not have “children’s menus,” however, waiters are usually very happy to accommodate special requests for children, such as a reduced portion of pasta or a simple pasta with no sauce (pasta bianca) or a small plate of pollo Milanese (fried chicken breast) with potatoes.
5. Young kids can get a lot more out of museum visits that focus on appreciating a few pieces of art work that they can relate to, rather than trying to check off a list and see every room. I suggest viewing the museum websites as a family in advance, getting an idea of what interests your children, and making a specific list of art to focus on during your visit. Kids will then be anticipating the masterpieces they will see at the museum, like a type of a treasure hunt! (A number of museums also offer special kids programs, including Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.)
Be sure to become a member of Dream of Italy to access our April and May 2016 special issues devoted to incredible ideas for travel to Italy with kids.
Need more hands on help planning a trip with the kids? Let us match you with a travel planner who specializes in family vacations!
Photo by Rome4Kids