Visiting Italy as a family with kids can be a wonderful adventure.
The country of good food, centuries-old history, and stunning nature is a great playground where both kids and their parents can have lots of fun and create memories to last a lifetime. From exploring some of the best museums for kids in Europe to spending time in nature surrounded by animals, from playing on some of the world’s sunniest beaches to learning to cook with fresh, seasonal products, in Italy, there is something for everyone who is young at heart.
Not to mention that family life is at the basis of everything in Italy. From long family lunches to traditional evening walks (called passeggiata), Italian families spend time together and the lifestyle reflects this.
Add to this free (up to 4 years of age) or discounted (up to 11-14 years of age depending on the train company) railway travel, as well as free or half-price access for kids to hundreds of museums and other attractions and Italy really starts to appeal to you as a parent who likes to travel abroad.
If you are starting to research potential family vacations in Italy or are in the final stages of planning a family trip to the bel paese, here are 17 types of fun and fabulous things to do in Italy for kids and parents.
I have provided lots of details and personal recommendations for things that I have tried and tested together with my own family and paid for with my own money during our four years of living in Italy. There are no affiliate links in this post and I am not in cahoots with any of the mentioned places. My recommendations are truly personal and aim to give you some good ideas so that your family has a great time in Italy just like mine.
So, let’s start!
Italy with Kids – 17 Fun and Fabulous Things to Do in Italy for Kids and Parents
1. Spend Hours in Italy’s Kids-Orientated Museums
There are many museums in Italy which are specifically targetted to children and aim to develop their thirst for science, history and nature. One of the most famous ones is MUSE – Science Museum in Trento in the north of the country. From a dinosaur exhibition to a model of a real-life glacier, there is lots to see and learn there.
Aim to visit MUSE on one of their thematic days when stalls and booths are set up all over the many floors of the museum so that children can take part in experiments, hear talks, and freely converse with scientists. We visited MUSE on the museum’s Darwin Day and it was a really enriching experience.
Galileo Museum in Florence will appeal to older children interested in science and its evolution through the centuries. Then there are – an environmental museum in Turin and the Science and Technology Museum in Milan which is the biggest of its kind in Italy.
On the other hand, a child interested in painting, drawing and crafts, will be in heaven in Italy as there is a proliferation of museums dedicated to the arts. Italy is the perfect place to introduce kids to some of the world’s greatest sculptors and painters and to lay a solid foundation for art appreciation later on in life.
Add to the mix the hundreds of smaller museums which explore in depth a particular topic and you will have a never-ending list with options what to see each day. Three of my favourite small thematic museums in Italy are:
- Museum of Rural Life in Grancona, Berici Hills – with an incredibly rich collection of anything and everything connected to rural life in Northern Italy. There is a huge selection of machines, a sprawling basement filled with tractors, a real-size classroom, as well as meticulously recreated craftsmen’s workshops. A must-see!
- Museum of the Roman Centuriation in Borgoricco, Province of Padua – a small but interesting museum exploring the history of the Roman grid – a method of land measurement used by the Romans.
- Eyewear Museum in Pieve di Cadore, Province of Belluno – who would have thought that glasses can make such a fascinating topic. You will find this exciting and very modern museum in the town where the renowned painter Titian was born. As it happens, Pieve di Cadore is also the birthplace of modern eyewear as the town and the area around it house several historical eyewear brands.
Even if a museum in Italy is not strictly aimed at children, often effort has been made to make it as child-friendly as possible. For example, at the Oriental Art Museum in Venice kids get a tablet to help them explore the museum collections in a fun and interactive way.
Read and See More:
- How to Visit Italy’s State Museums for Free – #DomenicalMuseo
- 13 Tips for Taking a Small Child to Art and History Museums – first and second parts
- The Natural History Museum in Venice
- Exploring Venice: The Museum of Music
- MUSE – Science Museum – Day 3 – Trentino, Italy – Castles, Hikes and Alpacas – The Perfect 4-Day Itinerary
- Video of the Museum of Rural Life in Grancona, Berici Hills
2. Take a Hike with Your Kids in Italy’s Gorgeous Nature
Don’t limit your exploration of Italy with kids to visiting just the main cities (stunning as they are). Venture further afield and take your children to see and experience the beauty of Italian nature first hand.
Blessed with a varied landscape and some of the most magnificent views you will ever see, Italy is home to many mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, valleys, gorges and all sorts of gorgeous and unique natural features.
Hey, there are even volcanoes in Italy. Both extinct (like the Euganean Hills near Padua) and active (like Mount Vesuvius near Naples which happens to be the only active volcano in mainland Europe).
Plus there are many caves and the Frasassi Grottos in the province of Ancona are one of the largest cave systems in Europe.
Hiking paths criss-cross pristine beauty spots, thick forests and alpine meadows. Spending even half a day breathing fresh air in the bosom of Italian nature will clear up your head and will make you appreciate Italy even more. Plus, it will allow your kids to burn lots and lots of energy for a great night sleep.
Here are four of my most favourite hikes that we have taken as a family in Northern Italy:
- Excalibur Didactic Naturalistic Path – perfect for small children, families, and people who are brand new to hiking this trail takes you through forests and meadows and it is a great introduction to the beauty of Italian nature.
- Painted Caves of Rubbio – four abandoned limestone quarries which have been turned into an open-air art installation by the artist Tony Zarpellon. The project took him almost three decades.
- Molina Waterfalls Park – a nature park with 18 waterfalls in the province of Verona. You can follow three different trails with a varying degree of difficulty and then end the day in the nearby village of Molina to see its old watermills.
- Archaeological site on Mount San Martino – explore the archaeological digs on top of a high hill in the province of Trentino. The combination of beautiful views and multilayered history makes for a great day out.
Click on the links below for more information about the above and more hiking trails and easy walks you can do with your kids in Italy.
Read and See More:
- Excalibur Didactic Naturalistic Path:
- Painted Caves of Rubbio:
- Parco delle Cascate and Molina – A Great Day Out in the Province of Verona
- Archaeological site on Mount San Martino: Day 2 – Trentino, Italy – Castles, Hikes and Alpacas – The Perfect 4-Day Itinerary
- Laghi – a picturesque tiny village in the Province of Vicenza:
- Video of Parco del Sojo, Lusiana – an open-air contemporary art museum with 70 works of art populating a lush forest and green meadows.
- 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – First Part
- 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – Second Part
- 3 Ideas for a Great Day Out in the Euganean Hills
3. Go Island-Hopping with Your Kids in Italy
Of course, you know all about Sicily and Sardinia but did you know that Italy has so many other islands and archipelagos that 1/6 of its territory is insular?!
Italy doesn’t just have islands in the seas which surround it but also islands in the many lakes dotted all over its territory. Plus, Venice is built on over 118 islands connected with over 400 bridges and separated by around 170 canals.
Italian islands (both sea- and lake-based) will surprise you with their beautiful nature and unique local traditions. A quick and easy way to explore as many islands in Italy as possible is to spend a few days in Venice with your kids and tick off San Giorgio Maggiore, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Pellestrina, Lido and several other islets off your list. You can also visit nearby Chioggia – a picturesque town on a small island at the southern end of the Venetian lagoon.
Or, you can travel up to Lake Garda or Lake Iseo which are so big that they have their own islands, too. In fact, Monte Isola – Iseo’s own island – is the largest lake island not just in Italy but in South and Central Europe, too.
I loved visiting Monte Isola two years ago when the artist Christo had his installation The Floating Piers there. It was a great experience to walk on the bright orange walkways across the lake all the way to the Monte Isola island which, otherwise, is only reachable by ferry.
Read and See More:
- Monte Isola, Lake Iseo:
- Chioggia, Northern Italy
4. Let Your Kids Get Close to Animals (Both Wild and Domestic)
It is important for children to have contact with animals. Experts state that cuddling and taking care of pets reduces anxiety, feelings of loneliness and makes us more responsible.
Luckily, the good people of Italy are crazy about pets themselves. Everywhere you go, you will see locals accompanied by their dogs and, most of the times, they are only too happy to let your kids pet them. In fact, they may even say ‘Vuoi accarezzarlo?’ (Do you want to pet him?) when seeing your little one staring lovingly at their dog.
There is more to Italy than just pets though. The country is peppered with independent farms many of which regularly organise open days and learning activities so that people and their kids can get close to the farm animals and learn about them. At such events, kids are encouraged to pet sheep and bunnies, get close to ponies, donkeys and horses, and may even be shown how to milk a goat.
Plus, several farms in Italy now look after growing herds of llamas and alpacas. At such places, you can go for a walk in the woods leading a llama or an alpaca on a lead while bonding with the animal and learning a bit about its character.
In Italy, you will also find some excellent aquariums. The one in Genoa (Aquario di Genova) on Italy’s Ligurian coast is the largest exhibition of biodiversity and ecosystems in Europe. But even the smaller ones, like Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium, make for a great destination on a day out.
In Italy, there are several butterfly houses, too. These are big covered places where you and your kids can go for a walk surrounded by tropical vegetation while beautiful butterflies flutter around you.
From birds of prey demonstrations to kid-friendly workshops on beekeeping, Italy offers some great opportunities for your kids to get close to both wild and domestic animals. Learning how to treat them, feed them, and take care of them is an enriching experience for both grown-ups and little ones.
Read and See More:
- Hiking with llamas and alpacas – Day 4 – Trentino, Italy – Castles, Hikes, and Alpacas – The Perfect 4-Day Itinerary (With or Without Kids)
- A visit to a butterfly house – Check the first and the sixth entries in 9 Gorgeous Gardens and Parks in the Veneto to Enjoy This Season
- A visit to a museum with living insects – Esapolis – Adventure with Bugs on a Rainy Day
- Photos from a kid-friendly beekeeping workshop we attended at an independent farm less than an hour away from Vicenza, Northern Italy
5. Encourage Your Kids to Conquer an Italian Castle or Ten (and Several Medieval Walled Towns, Too)
One thing that Italy has for sure is castles.
There are, literally, thousands of them all over the country. From humble ruins to fully preserved huge fortified buildings surrounded by impenetrable walls and deep moats, your kids will be spoiled for choice if they love castles and the history behind them.
Even better! Italy has dozens and dozens of medieval walled towns – picturesque places where you will feel like you are in the Middle Ages. Especially during one of the many medieval fairs which are regularly held there and during which people dress in medieval garb, cook medieval food and entertain themselves with medieval games and sword-fights.
The Northern Italian regions of Veneto and Piedmont and the Northern Italian province of Trentino are especially rich in castles. But you will easily find at least a dozen within an easy reach anywhere you are in Italy.
Some of our very favourite castles and medieval walled towns that we explored together as a family and keep revisiting are:
- Monselice – a really pretty medieval walled town in the province of Padua. It has one of the best castles I have had the chance to see. Its armoury is only second to the one in the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
- Cittadella – a gorgeous medieval walled town in the province of Padua where you will find ‘Europe’s best medieval parapet walkway’. In simple English, this means that you can circumnavigate the whole town by walking on its medieval defensive wall. Plus, in September, there is a town-wide medieval fair.
- Asolo – a picture-perfect medieval walled town in the foothills of the Dolomites. There is both a castle and a fort there. Known as the City of the Hundred Horizons and the Pearl of the Province of Treviso, its beauty has attracted artists, writers, and royals for centuries.
Click on the links below for more information about the above and more castles and medieval walled towns you can explore with your kids in Italy.
Read and See More:
- Monselice – Point 11 – 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – Second Part
- Cittadella, Independence, and Frittella
- Asolo, Italy – The Soul Asylum of Artists and Royals
- Castelfranco Veneto:
- Feltre, Italy – A Fabulous Find in the Dolomites
- The Great Wall of Marostica
- Noale – A Relaxing Sunday in the Bosom of Veneto
- Exploring Veneto – Beautiful Borghetto
- Runkelstein or Roncolo – The Castle with Two Names in Bolzano, Italy
- Castelvecchio – A Must-See in Verona
- Keeping Alive the Old Italian Crafts
6. Go on an Urban Adventure with Your Kids in Italy
Italian cities are like a treasure box. You can spend hours upon hours of exploring them and still there will be hundreds of treasures and secrets left for you and your kids to discover.
One of the best ways to find out all there is to know about a particular Italian city or a certain part of it, is to hire a professional guide. Italy has stringent training programs for its tourist guides. They not only need to know several languages but they also must have an incredibly deep knowledge of local history, art, and culture.
So, make sure that you join a group led by a tourist guide or contract one for a tailored personal city tour just for you and your kids in Italy. It will be money well spent.
For example, in February this year, our family joined a guided tour of Venice. The tour was specifically tailored to children and introduced them to the secrets and stories of the Venetian Carnival. Led by Arlecchino we walked all over the city stopping at iconic Carnival spots along the way to find out the stories behind them.
The children had a lot of fun and were active participants in the exploration. The tour was in Italian and it was organised by a local company called Park View Viaggi. Otherwise, for Venice, I can also recommend the English-speaking guides Luisella Romeo from See Venice and Erika Cornali from When in Venice. If they are busy, have a look at Best Venice Guides.
7. Let Your Kids Run Around a Historical Italian Square
The piazza (meaning ‘square’ in English) is at the centre of life in Italy. Surrounded by the most beautiful buildings in town as well as some lovely cafes, bars, gelaterias and patisseries, this is where people flock to in the evenings for their traditional family walk called passegiatta.
At any other point during the day, the piazza will also be brimming with life, as this is where the weekly market is held and large local events are centred.
Italian kids love running and playing on these large historical squares. While their parents sit in the nearest cafe sipping a cold caffè crema or aperitivo, their kids have fun running around, chasing a ball, and making friends with other children.
Let your kids partake in this centuries-old ritual of kids coming together to be free under the watchful eye of their parents and to be able to run and have fun surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful historic architecture.
In Vicenza, don’t miss Piazza dei Signori which is a stunning sight any time of the day but it really comes to life in the early evening. In Venice, kids play football and run around on the smaller squares which are out of the main tourist thoroughfares.
8. Learn About Authentic Italian Food and Then Cook Some With Your Kids
The world is crazy for Italian food and visiting Italy is a great opportunity to taste and learn about the local food in its most authentic form.
In fact, there is no Italian food as such in Italy, as each of the country’s 20 regions has its own cuisine that has been adapted and improved through the centuries to reflect the local weather conditions, seasonal produce, and personal tastes.
Obviously, pizza is available everywhere (such is the popularity of this, originally, Neapolitan dish). Yet, avoid having pizza in Venice. You may find a place there where they prepare their pizzas fresh (instead of serving reheated frozen pies). Still, their pizza will not be baked in wood-burning ovens (for a maximum flavour) as these ovens are traditionally not allowed in Venice for being considered a fire hazard.
From the North to the South of Italy focus on each region’s specialties – polenta, bigolli, risi e bisi, and baccala’ alla vicentina in the Veneto, truffles and gianduja in Piedmont, burrata and focaccia in Puglia, and so on.
Pop into local fruit and veg shops, explore food markets like the 800-years old market in front of Palazzo della Ragione in Padua. Notice that usually 95% of all produce (bananas excluded) is produced in Italy and is in season. Taste fresh strawberries from Matera, white asparagus from Bassano del Grappa, red radicchio from Treviso, and juicy blood oranges from Sicily.
Visit Bologna, Mantua and Parma – three Italian cities (out of dozens) which are particularly known for their local food traditions.
Have a brioche and cakes for breakfast, freshly prepared tramezzini (triangular sandwiches made of soft crustless bread and with different fillings) for a light lunch on the go, and a dinner of several courses. Do an olive oil tasting and find out with surprise that olive oil is just like wine – with dozens of different flavours and tastes depending on the region and the local olives.
The beauty of Italy is that you don’t have to break the bank to have exceedingly good food. Take your children to a sagra – an event dedicated to a particular foodstuff. Contact local farms (called agriturismo in Italian) and ask if you can attend an olive-picking or a grape-stomping day. Book a cooking lesson for your kids so that they can learn how to cook an authentic Italian meal.
In Vicenza, we love the cooking workshops for children organised by Il Mondo di Bu. There are many cooking schools all over Italy and it pays off to take a class with them so as to feel connected to Italian food in the most authentic way.
Read and See More:
- Bologna, Italy – 10 Stories to Introduce You to the Fat Lady of the Italian Cities
- Padua’s 800-Years Old Market:
- Video of the display of a traditional Italian patisserie in Verona
- Arrosticini – The King of All Shish Kebabs
- Mandorlato Veneto – The Taste of Italian Christmas
- Marostica, Italy – The Juicy Season of Cherries
- The Prosciutto Festival in Montagnana
- How Prosciutto is Made
- The Tortellini of Valleggio sul Mincio
- Italy for Foodies: White Asparagus
- Italy for foodies: Cioccomenta
- Caperberries or What You Should Be Nibbling On When in Italy
- Lumignano Truffle Festival – Luxury Food at Popular Prices
- Pistachio Spread – Comfort Food from Italian Foodie Heaven
- My Italian Breakfast – The Sweetest Start to a Rainy Day
- Truffle Crisps – Made Since 1938 for a Tiny Deli in Verona
- The Italian Food Bloggers I Can’t Cook Without
- Frittella – The Taste of the Venetian Carnival
- Coal for Breakfast
- Cremino – Three-Layered Chocolate Happiness
- Frittelle del Luna Park – An Italian Piece of Fried Sugary Heaven
- Cherry Festivals in Italy – Where and When
- Fried Frogs
9. With Your Kids Peel the Layers off Italy’s Ancient History and See What’s Underneath
Italy’s history is so rich that it can easily take you a lifetime to peel off its many layers. Just walking through an Italian city gives you a chance to show your children literally how deep local history goes by pointing to them the historical excavations and buildings all around them.
In the Museum of the Venetian Age in Bergamo, there is a Roman archaeological area helping you see how buildings were built on top of the ruins of others through the centuries.
In modern-day Verona, you can see the layers of the Roman civilisation both under- and overground. From Arena di Verona – one of the world’s largest preserved Roman amphitheatres – to the Roman gates dotted around the city as well as the Roman excavations just past Juliet’s House, you can imagine what the city looked like two thousand years ago.
Italy’s ancient history doesn’t stop with the Roman Empire though.
On the territory of the country, there are vestiges of dozens of civilisations. Etruscans, Venetics, and Illyrians lived here, too. Not to mention the many Neolithic, Copper Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age cultures which flourished here.
Visiting museums, pre-historic villages and archaeological excavations peppered all over Italy will help you stoke your children’s interest in ancient history. Often these places offer exciting learning activities so that children can see how people who lived millennia before us hunted, worked the ground and developed different types of tools and crafts to make their daily lives a tiny bit easier.
We had a great experience hiking to the Pre-Historic Village on Mount Corgnon just above Lusiana in the Veneto. If you can’t make it this far, head to the nearest archaeological museum. They abound in Italy.
10. Introduce Your Kids to Italy’s Historical Figures
The most amazing thing about Italy is that it brings you unmeasurably closer to people and events that have shaped our world.
From Petrarch to Titian, from Galileo to Leonardo, all over Italy you can visit the places where some of the giants of the world’s science and art lived and worked.
Take your kids to visit places significantly connected to people the names of whom everyone has heard of. From the University of Padua where Galileo Galilei taught to Titian’s birth house in Pieve di Cadore, from Petrarch’s house and tomb in Arqua Petrarca to Canova’s birth house in Possagno, it will be like a lesson in greatness.
In a world where our children need authentic role models more than ever, learning first hand about the achievements of Italian artists and scientists and seeing how their work influenced and even changed the course of human thought can be a deeply inspiring experience for your kids
Read and See More:
- The Sunset That Petrarch Enjoyed
- Cornaro Loggia and Odeon in Padua – History, Architecture and Art
- Michelangelo’s Handwriting
- Discovering Canova – Italy’s Neoclassical Sculptor
- Giorgione’s Madonna – A Masterpiece You Mustn’t Miss in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy
- The War on Art or the Loss and the Reconstruction of the Mantegna Frescoes
- Video of Dante’s Mausoleum in Ravenna
11. Set Life Goals for Your Kids at Italy’s Historic Universities
Now, you want to go to Italy with your kids in order to relax and have a nice time, right?!
Still (and if you have a Type A personality) finding yourself in Italy with your kids is the perfect opportunity to set some life goals for them and give them an idea what they can achieve if they apply themselves at school.
Obviously, I don’t imply that you should tell them: ‘If you study hard enough and you get into a good University then you can have an exchange year in Italy and eat as much gelato as you like!’
Even though this is a good enough life goal (at least in my books!).
Instead, what I mean is that you can take your kids (no matter how small they are, start them young, right?!) on a visit to one of Italy’s historic Universities. Like the one in Bologna (which is also the oldest University in continuous operation in the world) and the one in Padua (the second oldest University in Italy and the fifth still in operation today University in the world).
Seeing their splendid historic seats and being able to literally touch the places that inspired the development of the arts and sciences in Europe can have a galvanising effect on children (and parents!). You never know!
Read and See More:
- Three Universities in Italy You Need to Put on Your Travel Wish List Now
- Video showing the Archiginnasio – the historic seat of the University of Bologna
- Video showing the Stabat Mater Hall in the Archiginnasio – the historic seat of the University of Bologna
12. Spend a Day with Your Kids on Italy’s Beaches and in Italy’s Aquaparks
From beautiful beaches to some of the best aquaparks this side of Europe, Italy is a great place to travel to if your kids love water.
In terms of beaches, you will be spoiled for choice. From:
- huge sandy beaches with all modern amenities like large playgrounds for the kids, gelato kiosks and restaurants to
- little pebbly beaches so far from civilisation that you may feel like the only people in the world,
there are lots of options for beach fun in Italy.
Don’t narrow your search for great Italian beaches just to Italy’s seaside areas though. Italians love camping on the shores of local lakes and rivers and, if the conditions permit it, they love wild swimming in them, too.
Aquaparks are plentiful in Italy, too. They are fun places with all sorts of water-related things to do. Slides, kiddie pools, even large hot tubs with dozens of jets. On a hot day, you will not want to leave. Just take plenty of sun cream with you as the sun can get burning hot.
Some Italian aquaparks have historical swimming pools, too. For example, in Terme di Giunone – an aquapark in the province of Verona – there are two pools with thermal water which have been used since Roman times. One is perfectly round and its bottom is covered with fine sand whilst the other is shaped like a half-circle and its bottom is covered with large stone slabs and small pebbles. Swimming there is really cool as you imagine the ancient Romans relaxing in the water over two thousand years ago.
In and around Vicenza, where we currently live, there are easily half-dozen aquaparks. We usually head to one around 4 or 5 pm on a hot summer workday. Aquaparks tend to close at 7.30 so this gives us enough time to cool off in the water and have fun after a productive day.
Read and See More:
- See point 6 in 10 Reasons to Visit Chioggia on Italy’s Adriatic Coast
- See points 7 and 8 in Summer in Italy – 16 Ways to Cool Off in Italy When It’s Baking Hot Outside
13. Let Your Kids Have Fun in Italy’s Adventure and Amusement Parks
Talking of parks, let me tell you that in addition to aquaparks, Italy has some really great adventure and amusement parks which are able to keep a child of any age entertained for hours if not for days.
One of Italy’s most unusual and original amusement parks is Parco ai Pioppi. Built over 40 years by the owner of the adjacent osteria and restaurant, the park is great for both kids and parents. Plus, it is absolutely free to use as long as you are a client of the osteria or the restaurant.
Some of the largest and most well-known amusement parks in Italy for kids are Gardaland, Leoland, and Movieland Studios in the North of the country. In Rimini, you can see Italia in Miniatura – a theme park with Italy’s most famous sights reduced to a fraction of their original size.
You don’t have to go just to the largest and most expensive amusement parks in Italy though in order to have bags of fun with your kids.
The country is dotted with small adventure parks where you can test yourself by walking on rope bridges between tall trees and ziplining from platform to platform set up high above the ground. Italian adventure parks usually offer different trails for the different age groups and both kids and parents can have a go at being Tarzan for a day.
I loved the time we spent at the Le Fiorine Adventure Park in the Euganean Hills. I have to admit that the vertical net was scary and difficult to hang on to but the zip lines were an amazing experience. Full-on adrenaline!
Read and See More:
- The second idea in 3 Ideas for a Great Day Out in the Euganean Hills
14. Take Your Kids to See Italian Craftsmen and Artisans at Work
In a world where we are used to buying mass-produced stuff, Italy offers you the fantastic opportunity to introduce your kids to the work of real craftsmen and artisans.
Home to centuries-old craft traditions, Italy is a fertile ground to discover beautiful one-off items and to learn the intriguing history behind them. From the glass island Murano and the lace island Burano in the Venetian lagoon to the pottery towns of the Veneto, Tuscany, Umbria, and Sicily, you can find anything and everything handmade in between.
Italy is also worldwide famous for its jewellery. Cities like Vicenza, Valenza and Arezzo preserve jewellery-making traditions going back centuries. Volterra in Tuscany is known as heaven for lovers of hand-carved cameos. Naples is the city where the best Nativity scenes are made. Florence is notable for its leather goods and handmade paper. In Venice, you will find lavish masks allowing you to take home with you a piece of the spirit of Carnival.
Anywhere you go in Italy with your kids, make sure that you visit the shops and the workshops of the local artisans. These are people who take pride in their work and whose hands create real beauty. Some may hold open days giving you access to their studios and working areas thus allowing you to learn first hand about their craft. Others may organise workshops for kids and parents so that you can too learn how to make something with your own hands.
One of my personal (not even guilty) pleasures here in Italy is to explore the shops of local artisans in the towns and cities we visit as well the stalls they set during events and craft fairs. Only recently we spent a couple of inspiring hours at a large craft event in one of Italy’s most beautiful small towns – Cison di Valmarino.
Craftsmen and artisans had set up stalls and shops all through the town. There was a festival atmosphere coupled with lively music. Plus lots of workshops for children to try their hand at working with clay and other materials.
Another event I always visit with my child is Abilmente in Vicenza, Northern Italy. This is a large fair where hobby craftsmen (and -ladies) from all over Italy meet. There are lots of workshops and a chance to see some fab crafting work to inspire your own little projects that you do with your kids at home. Read more about Abilmente by clicking on the link below.
Ask the local tourist office at the place you travel to in Italy for similar events and for directions to the best artisan and craft shops in the area. Your kids and you will have a lot of fun.
Read and See More:
- Keeping Alive the Old Italian Crafts
- Abilmente, Vicenza – Where Crafters in Italy Meet
- Video of a lacemaker from Chioggia, Italy
15. Practise Sports with Your Kids in Italy
Italy is a great place to be active and to practice sports. From hikes through beautiful natural surroundings to cycling, from skiing to paragliding and horse riding, there is something for everyone to try their hand at.
Cycling, for example, is very popular in our corner of Northern Italy. Everywhere you go you will see people on bicycles. Kids start learning to cycle really early and keep up with the sport as they grow up.
Gym and yoga classes are also very popular both for little ones and grown-ups. Often you will find a historical site, such as a Venetian villa, for example, holding a sports event on its grounds like an al fresco yoga class.
Marathons, half-marathons and other running events are held regularly in all Italian cities and larger towns. On weekends, there are walks and walks combined with non-competitive running that the whole family can take part in.
In winter skiing, tobogganing and snowboarding are the order of the day.
16. Have an Agricultural Experience with Your Kids in Italy
In a world where our food reaches us in packs, tins and glass jars, there is a real need for kids to learn how food grows and what steps it goes through before we can put it on the table.
In this respect, Italy is a great learning ground.
There are hundreds of farms all over the country which can be visited during open days and specially organised events. Kids can take part in such activities as olive picking, pea shelling and even grape stomping. They can also learn how to plant vegetables and how to take care of them. It is a fun, hands-on way to learn about food.
Often, you don’t even need to travel to a farm in order to have an agricultural experience with your kids in Italy. Local farmers’ markets and even garden centres in Italy sometimes also organise events on weekends aiming to teach kids and parents about seasonal fruits and veg, and the tasty things that can be done with them.
Many cities in Italy also organise children and family fairs with hundreds of exhibitors. Often, there are several agricultural farms taking part, too. For example, at the Children and Family Fair in Vicenza last year a farm had set up an agricultural space for kids to plant lettuce and take care of it. Another farm also at the same event had set up an area with old agricultural equipment so that the kids could try their hand at corn shelling and other such activities. It was a lot of fun!
17. Let Your Kids Experiment with Modern and Contemporary Art in Italy
Think Italy and, most probably, the first thing that will pop in your mind will be a reference to its ancient and classical art. Yet Italy has an incredibly rich modern and contemporary art scene which can be a lot of fun to explore with kids.
Traipsing round museums stuffed with masterpieces by ancient and classical masters may be your idea of heaven. In the meantime, kids can easily get bored with all those endless paintings with Biblical scenes. Instead, modern and contemporary sculptures, drawings and paintings may speak just your child’s language with their bright colours and imaginative shapes.
Take your kids to large modern and contemporary art museums in Italy. MART with branches in Rovereto and Trento and The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice are just two great examples. Check online their websites for kid-friendly events and workshops. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection has a free workshop for kids every Sunday.
Another option is to explore nature parks dotted with abstract pieces of art. This way you will be combining two good things in one:
- a nice and relaxed hike with your kids so that they can run and play burning lots of energy; and
- a large dose of art appreciation as they come across different installations and works of art nestled between large trees and in sun-lit clearings.
There are three such places that I can wholeheartedly recommend:
- Parco del Sojo in the Veneto – a natural park with 70 pieces of contemporary art installed in a forest;
- Parco Arte Sella in Trentino – another natural park with large sculptural pieces of contemporary art; and
- Cave Dipinte in the Veneto – a group of abandoned quarries which have been turned into an open-air art installation by the artist Tony Zarpellon.
In order to introduce your kids to the joys of modern and contemporary art, you can also take them to see such large and worldwide famous events like the Biennale in Venice. Creative workshops for children and families are regularly organised at such happenings.
One last idea is to play a game of ‘spot the graffiti’ as you and your kids travel across Italy. There are lots of naff graffiti all over the country, yet it also hosts some of the best graffiti artists you will have a chance to see. Padua, for example, is the playing ground of a fabulous graffiti master called Kenny Random. Try to spot as many of his works when you are in the city. Sometimes, there are even guided tours introducing people to the art of graffiti in Padua.
Read and See More:
- The Painted Caves of Rubbio, Italy – Where Art Meets Nature
- Video from Parco del Sojo
- Video of the Gaetano Pesce exhibition in Palazzo della Ragione in Padua
- Video of the Painted Caves just outside Rubbio
Italy is a great country with much to offer to both parents and kids eager to explore history, nature and art and to have some wonderful adventures.
From learning about and getting to cook authentic Italian food to visiting castles and artisan workshops, from having fun by stomping grapes and splashing in sprawling aquaparks to practising a myriad of sports and testing one’s strength in adventure parks, there are so many exciting things for kids to do in Italy.
I hope that the above personally tried and tested ideas and recommendations for places to visit in Italy with kids and things to do in Italy with kids will give you lots of information to make planning your family trip to Italy a total breeze.
Have a great time! And let me know in a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions to add to my list.
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