Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Florence for Children: December 2011 and holiday events

Here’s the second post from ArtTrav’s colomnist who will be contributing seasonal articles about what to do in Florence with children.

Laura, mother of three-year-old Francesco (in the photo!), is also the energetic founder of ToscanaIN and is involved in the new social network for women, WithAndWithin.

Three-year-old Francesco is the protagonist of Florence for children. He’s very curious and gets bored very easily. This is our selection of the best things to do in Florence over the Christmas 2011 holidays… with kids. I’ve selected activities appropriate for Francesco’s age group, so this is not a comprehensive listing. At the end you will also find some tips about stores and services that visitors to the city might not know. There are some gift ideas here too!

A fair: Firenze Noel (7-11 December 2011 at Leopolda Station)

This Fair is called “The big Christmas Party” and take place at Leopolda Station (viale Fratelli Rosselli, 6r in Florence) from Wednesday 7 December (h.16-21.30) until Sunday 11 December 2011 (10-21.30) – if you arrive there by bus show the ATAF ticket to have a discount (tickets cost 7,50€ for adults and 5,00€ for 6 to 12 years old children).

What can you find there? Animated readings, circus laboratories (with people and with puppets), kitchen – drawing and dance lessons, gospels concerts, etc. Children will learn everything about circus secrets while adults will try and buy typical food and drink (good for your Christmas meals or as a present).

TEATRO PUCCINI “Per grandi e Puccini” season (untranslatable ;-))

For children from 4 to 99 years old, the show “Canto di Natale” powered by Centrale Produzioni full of humour, warmth and suspence, from Charles Dickens novel in Friday 7 December at 18.00 at Teatro Puccini (via delle Cascine 41 in Florence). A show with shadows and lights, phantoms of our past, with songs and choreographies in a space that always change. Tickets 7,00€. On Saturday 7 January at 21.00 a show for 0 to 100 years old people “Il piccolo principe” by Compagnia Mannini Dall’Orto Teatro from Antoine de Saint-Exupery poetic novel. 400 shows around Italy, often sold-out, make this show a cult of the Italian theatre.

A show for fundraising and another by children

On Thursday 15 December a show held by the Scuola Giotto parents to enjoy their children (3-6 years old) and collect money for their school. Two shows with Santa Claus as guest star, full of fun and music, at 16.30 and 17.30 (free offer) at Sala Esse (via del Ghirlandaio, 38 in Florence). Join and tell other families/children!

FESTA English Theatre in Florence has a childrens’ theatre group that is putting on the classic Hansel and Gretel in English on December 17 at the Chiesa Evangelica Metodista – Via De’ Benci 9 at 5:30pm (it’s free). Performed by kids, for kids.

Caffè Letterario Le Murate book reading for trilingual children!

The new Caffè Letterario Le Murate (Piazza delle Murate in Florence) will be hosting the famous children’s writer Arianna Papini on Saturday 17 December at 17.00 to promote her new book, What would you like to be? (Chi Vorresti Essere in Italian) that will be read in Italian, English and Spanish simultaneously (admission free).  There will be a small workshop afterwards with crafts, singing and dancing. A very cute book for early readers (age 3) – if you miss the reading you could buy the book on amazon: Papini – Chi vorresti essere

UNIQUE: a creativity workshop at FERRAGAMO MUSEUM

The special workshop “Creare la moda” (Create fashion) for 4 to 10 years old children at Museo Ferragamo (Palazzo Spini Feroni piazza Santa Trinità 5r in City Center of Florence) with the aim to explain and teach children what a made-in-Italy object should be. The first workshop is on Sunday 18th December at 15.30 / 16.30 / 17.30 booking in advance. Children will learn about the Ferragamo tradition with a cartoon and, following the instruction of an expert artisan, creating a shoe with their own hands starting with the choice of the right raw materials.

BIBLIOTECA delle OBLATE – spazio BAMBINI e RAGAZZI

There is a lot to do during the Christmas / New Years Eve and Epiphany days in the Children and Youth section of Biblioteca delle Oblate (the Oblate Library) via dell’Oriuolo, 26 in Florence!

Saturday 17th December, Thursday 22nd and Thursday 29th December at 16.30 by Associazione Culturale Allibratori the animated readings “Notte Nero Pece” (Deep Black Night), “Immaginarie Storie” through Japanese Kamishibai and “Le stagioni di Pallina” (Pallina seasons) while in January 2012 the program will start on Thursday 5th at 16.30 with the animated reading “Storie a colori” and Saturday 7th at 16.30 with the puppet show “La Befana e la gallina Bianca

A place to eat… during your Christmas shopping

TheClubHouse in via de’ Ginori 6r in Florence

A perfect stop in the city center close to San Lorenzo market, where you can order anything you want from pizza to pasta and fish and chips (brunch on Sundays). Children can sit in the comfortable chairs with cushions and waiters are very nice with them. If you are a ToscanaIN member (business networking no-profit association) you can get a 15% of discount on a la carte menu and special offers.

A shop for kids’ presents

Imaginarium in via Gioberti 41r (Le Nove Botteghe): via Gioberti is my favourite shopping street in Florence, and Imaginarium is my favourite toy shop. Every child loves it first for its double entrance (a small door for children like Francesco – see picture of him trying to open the little door by himself) and then for its great puppets, colours, animals, etc.! If you join the Imaginarium Club, you’ll receive a card that gives you discounts and special offers (a different gift every month so you are forced to go and spend there). And now you can download the free app “Imaginarium Natale” (for Apple and Android) to write a letter adding your favourite toys and, after sending it via smartphone, Santa Claus in person will call you up: don’t miss it!

A solidarity gift on behalf of Fondazione Meyer

If you are looking for presents with a different purpose, check in the Fondazione Meyer catalogue. You’ll find unique sweaters, T-shirts, mugs, hats, pencils, books, cards, etc. and you’ll help one of the best children’s hospital in Italy (and sick children will thank you!).

Last but not least an idea to spend some time at home

And if it’s too cold or rainy to go out, why don’t you spend your time making something to eat with your child? You can start from the classic North American Gingerbread biscuits (also a nice way to decorate your Christmas tree or for a Christmas present to your neighbours). And a trick: if you fill this form you’ll receive a Christmas recipe a day until December 24 taken for you and your child from “The secret Santa Claus cookbook”. In fact in 2011 Piccolo Cuoco (a project of the non-profit association Piccolo Artista) has been named Santa Claus’ personal assistant and shares with all of you his secret recipes…

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By: Laura

Laura is the founder and CEO of MakeTank. She is the mother of Francesco, and for arttrav writes about travel with children.