Meet ArtTrav’s new 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.

My three-year-old Francesco is the protagonist of Florence for children. He’s very curious and gets bored very easily. So I’m starting to gather information on activities to keep children busy and parents happy in Florence on the weekends. And guess what? For parents and children living in Florence, there are loads of opportunities, from kids’ areas in libraries to theatre and music! Here is my list of the best kids’ events in November and December 2011.

In libraries and bookstores

Biblioteca delle oblate – spazio bambini e ragazzi

We can start with the Biblioteca delle Oblate (the Oblate Library), via dell’Oriuolo 26, in the city center (200m from the Duomo) that has a Children and Youth section on the second floor (see photo above). The service offers books in Italian and foreign languages, musical CDs, films and cartoons. With a free library card, children can bring home 8 books per month, 2 CDs+2 DVDs+2 cartoons for a week.

From November 6 until December 18 it will be open also every Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00 (good to spend there some time during the winter rainy and cold days!). And not only! There is an interesting program of interactive readings, literary games, laboratories, workshops and puppet shows during the weekends for children of any age.

Here are a few examples for smaller children (3/6 years old):

Saturdays November 19 at 16.30 the animated readings by Associazione Culturale Allibratori “Il sapore della luna” (The flavour of the moon) is a journey in the African nights together with savanna and jungle animals; and November 26 at the same time, “Un viaggio da leoni” (A lion journey) in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe: Paris.

Saturday December 3 in the morning at 11.00 “Le letture di Sara” animated readings: “Il guerriero e il saggio” and “Yasmin e le mele d’oro”; and then in the afternoon at 16.30 a puppet show “Storie allegre di Carlo Collodi” (Happy stories of Carlo Collodi) with fantastic people of the visionary Florentine writer and creator of Pinocchio by Associazione culturale Altolà.

Libreria libri liberi & Teatrino del gallo

Another wonderful place to introduce smaller children to theatre is Teatrino del Gallo in the limonaia and garden of the bookshop “Libri Liberi” in via San Gallo 25r in Florence (see photo), which specializes in babies’ and childrens’ books and is now celebrating its eighth year of activities with a two-day party on Sunday November 27 and Monday November 28from 17.00 to 20.00. The party will launch a new green line, a green room, and workshop and shows focused on nature, recycling and bio breaks.

The shows (at 15.30 or at 17.00) for 3-10 years olds held at Teatrino del Gallo in November will be “Cappuccetto cambia colore” by Teatrosfera on Saturday November 19, an interactive show based on the Bruno Munari storyl “Il meraviglioso mondo di Oz” on Sunday November 20 by Teatrosfera and musicians of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; and “Stanza di Fiaba: Hansel e Gretel” a multisensorial journey in the places of the tale on Sunday the 27th by Miriam Bardini and Roberta Socci.

Theatre for kids

Pass Teatri Family is an excellent deal for families: it allows 6 entrances for childrens’ shows in different theatres in Florence and nearby for 25€. It means that you can go twice mom+dad+child or three times mom+child and any possible combination. And with Pass Teatri Family you can also have discounts to Museums and Exhibitions around Florence!

Here are the shows on the agenda for November 2011:

Sunday November 27th you can choose between “All’opera… il lupo e i sette capretti” at Teatro delle Arti (via Matteotti 8, Lastra a Signa (FI)) at 15.30, from the Grimm brothers’ tale powered by Teatrino dei Fondi; or “Boxville – Ballata di Cartone” at Teatro Cantiere Florida (via Pisana 111r ang. Via di Soffiano, Florence) at 16.00, by Compagnia Simona Bucci, appropriate for all ages. An imaginary world made of boxes: big, small, full, empty, a boxcity and its inhabitants to have a different point of view of ourselves and the way we interact in our surroundings. The week before at Teatro Cantiere Florida you can book for “Vita da gatti” (not in the Pass Teatri Family program) at 16.00 by Compagnia Ferruccio Filippazzi (ticket 7,00€ for adult and children 3-7 years old)

Sunday December 4 there is “Hansel e Gretel” at Teatro Giotto in Vicchio (FI) at 16.00. Gino Balestrino and sweet puppets made by Natale Panaro follow on Sunday December 11in“Raperonzolo” at Teatro Comunale Corsini (viale della Repubblica 3, Barberino del Mugello (FI)), Pupi di Stac’s puppet version of the famous tale written by the Grimm brothers, contaminated with Tuscan words and music and the active participation and emotion of the public. Without the Family Pass Teatri card, tickets cost 5,00€ for adults and children.

Child-friendly restaurants and shops

I must say that in Florence (and in Italy in general) it’s really difficult to find a restaurant or a bar with a high chair and a changing table for children (public toilets don’t exist), even if it’s one of the most touristic cities / countries in the world! But things are changing: for a restaurant to be eligible for outside seating on public property, Mayor Matteo Renzi obliges them to have those two baby-friendly objects. There’s hope! But I give you two important tricks in the center of Florence in case of urgent need.

A place to eat: Mc Donald’s has two fast-food restaurants in Florence city center, one in piazza della Stazione 25r (in front of Santa Maria Novella train station) and the second via Cavour 61r (steps from the Duomo). You can dislike or love its hamburger and menu (now you can try McItaly hamburgers created by Gualtiero Marchesi) but once in a while it’s better than many other places especially if you are in a foreign country and need a kitchen that’s always open. Children have their menu with a nice present in it. And they always have baby changing tables in their toilets, so if you need to clean your baby at least you can do so in a comfortable way!

A shop: Prenatal is located in via Brunelleschi 22 beside piazza delle Repubblica in Florence. It’s a must for future moms, as the store carries anything you need for body and birth. But it’s also the first choice for newborns to find anything you need from strollers to linens made for baby-size beds, all kind of clothes, toys and cosmetics. And they know how to create return customers with pre-birth courses, a birth-list, and the Prenatal card that enable you to gain wonderful prizes and discounts. And if you need a 10 minute stop in your shopping session to clean or feed your baby in a quiet place, they have a nursing corner.

Stay tuned on arttrav for more child-friendly posts from Laura! Thanks Laura for the great job… didn’t she do a great job, in English, too?! Laura is open to suggestions for the next kid post, so please add your kid-friendly Florence tips in the comments, or write to her at And while you’re at it, why not join withandwithin and see what it’s all about?

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