I don’t have kids (actually, I try to avoid them as much as possible), so I may not be the number one authority on tips on what to do with children in Italy (or anywhere else for that matter), or what museums in Florence are kid-friendly. Luckily, I have a regular columnist – Laura de Benedetto – who, as a very active mom, does have a good idea of what to do with her now-4-year-old Francesco.

For the Italy Roundtable this month we’ve given ourselves the theme of “children” and I have opted to hold my tongue about why I have chosen not to have any in favour of simply culling my and Laura’s common knowledge, previously published on this blog, on activities for kids around Florence and beyond. I will update this post when other information or articles become available and hope that this is a useful and complete resource on the topic.

The beginning of didactic activities in the Uffizi – photo from official website polomuseale.firenze.it

Museums for kids in Florence

Start with these tips for approaching museums with kids based on art education theories and some personal observation.

Palazzo Vecchio Museo dei Ragazzi: this is not actually a separate museum but a live interpretation of a historical space for children and their parents. It’s for kids 8 and up.

Palazzo Davanzati: this is an early Renaissance palazzo that is furnished and decorated in a recreation of what real life would have been like in the past. At one point there was a special guide for kids (in Italian) that you might try to ask for at the front desk. This museum is really appealing to children if there’s someone to tell them stories and point out the interesting things, like the (basic) indoor toilet, the well, a crib, etc.

Palazzo Strozzi: While not specifically for children, Palazzo Strozzi is probably the most kid-friendly museum in the city. It has childrens’ labels in each exhibit, along with special cards (with pretty much the label text on them) to help you go through and ask good questions in the show. You can also ask for the family kit, which changes with each exhibit, and contains interactive prompts to involve kids with art. There are childrens’ tours (including a “stroller tour” for the littlest ones and their parents), as well as workshops for kids of various ages.

Museo Galileo: This science museum has recently been revamped with a new display, labeling and an interactive video-guide. The latter or a knowledgeable adult help to animate objects that have very interesting stories behind them, and that will appeal to kids perhaps 8 and up (especially those already with a penchant for science and math). There are weekend activities for children just about every weekend during the school year, including occasional English language things. These cost only 2 euros plus the entry ticket.

Laura’s Francesco at the Oblate Library, eating the free toys.

Childrens’ libraries and play areas

  • Biblioteca delle Oblate – historical center
    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. There is also free wifi with registration so mommy can surf the web while baby plays in the play area.
  • La tana dell’orso – quartiere 2 ludoteca (games library). Most of the areas (quartiere) of Florence have a little games area where kids can play for free
  • In Isolotto area there’s BiblioteCaNova with an ever-changing schedule of childrens’ readings and events, including “Reading Italian for foreigners” Mondays at 5pm – check with them to make sure it’s still on!
  • Inside St James’ Church there’s an english-language childrens’ lending library
School group in the Uffizi – photo from official website polomuseale.firenze.it

Workshops for kids

Workshops are held on select dates at the following locations, in addition to the ones mentioned inside museums above:

  • State museums including the Uffizi: a calendar of tours for kids and their families is released twice a year by the didactic services of the Uffizi and require reservation in advance. It is useful to sign up for the newsletter because these fill up quickly, especially the rare time there’s one in English (for 2012, there is no english tour despite the huge success in 2011).
  • Museo degli Innocenti’s bottega dei ragazzi – also available in English
  • Ferragamo Museum – very occasional, and with no updated website, but when they have them they’re very interesting (if you manage to find out about it)
  • Biblioteca delle Oblate

Theatres in Florence with childrens’ programming

These are mostly in Italian.

Francesco at the Teatrino del Gallo
  • Teatrino del Gallo, inside bookshop Libri Liberi in via San Gallo 25r, is a puppet group called Pupi de Stac that little ones seem to just love
  • Teatro Puccini and Teatro Cantiere Florida both have regular kids’ programming
  • Pass Teatri Family is an excellent deal for families: it allows 6 entrances for childrens’ shows in different theatres in Florence and environs for 25€.

Florence by season

January theatre and sales
A post from Jan 2012 gives a sense of the theatre programming for kids in this season and some useful suggestions for shopping at the sales for growing children.

Easter in Florence with kids
This one is pretty self-explanatory! Kids like exploding carts and chocolate. ‘Nuff said.

Summer Camps (for kids) in Florence
Camps, language classes and activities to do with kids during the long summers in Italy.
Worth a mention: there is a special camp for children living with serious or chronic illnesses in Tuscany, called Dynamo Camp. It is free for 7-16 year old Italian resident children and I have heard that it is a most wonderful place.

December and Christmas Holidays
This post is from December 2011 but mentions an annual fair called “Noel”

General Italy Travel with kids

Travel in Tuscia (Etruria) with kids
Great places to travel, dine and stay overnight in Tuscia with infants/kids.

Genova with kids weekend itinerary
A Winter weekend in Genova with activities and museums for kids, including what (and where) to eat! 

Useful resources

Florence Moms 4 Moms Network is an English-speaking group of moms in Florence, useful for the newly arrived expat mom. There are also groups in Siena, Perugia and Lucca.

Fiorentini si cresce is a website in Italian with an awful design but it has a very complete and up to date list of events for children in Florence that you won’t find anywhere else.

There are various useful books on travel in Italy with kids, including one fun workbook. Sometimes paper is the best solution:


Italy Roundtable

More resources on the topic of kids in Italy can be found in my roundtable friends’ reflections:

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