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Christine Sarkis

7 Great Things to Do in Tuscany with Kids

SmarterTravel

The popular imagination frames Tuscany as a wonderland of wineries, villas, and quaint hilltop towns. And you know who doesn’t care about wineries, villas, and quaint hilltop towns? Ninety-five percent of kids. But there’s more to Tuscany, and much of it is kid-friendly.

Don’t Miss: Tuscany with Kids

Most Italians dote on children, and there are plenty of fun things to do in Tuscany with kids, making the region a welcoming destination for families who want to embrace the more relaxed side of Italy.

Festivals and Events

Year-round festivals and celebrations offer endless reasons to visit Tuscany with kids. Jousts, tournaments, and horse (and donkey) races all over Tuscany pay tribute to the region’s rich history. Food festivals celebrate chocolate, cherries, pasta, and other kid-pleasing local favorites. In late January and early February, Carnevale celebrations erupt everywhere—and some even include events specifically for kids. The warmer months bring more festivities, including the Notte dei Pirati pirate festival in Porto Ercole in May, and the Luminaria in Pisa in June.

Fireflies

In early summer, fireflies are out in full force in the more rural stretches of Tuscany. Ask a local for the preferred firefly watching spot, then head out after dark and discover these kid-dazzling lights dancing in the night. If your kids have never seen fireflies, it will be a properly impressive introduction. And even if they’re firefly pros already, there’s something particularly enchanting (and memorable) about topping off a Tuscan summer day with a parade of tiny forest lights.

Wildlife Spotting

Porcupine quills, wolf tracks, boar trails—there’s never a dull moment if you know how what to look for on the trails of Tuscany with kids. In the evenings, open your windows to listen to the starlit stylings of nightingales. During the day, picnic in fields dancing with butterflies or wade on the banks of the Tiber (Tevere) River. Much of Tuscany remains wild, and trails crisscross the landscape, offering chances to spot local and migrating wildlife in a pristine setting. Look for white and red arrow signs along the road that will give you approximate walking times to nearby towns and sights. But be sure to bring a map along as well; signage along trails isn’t always as thorough as you might expect.

Beaches

Tuscany claims a significant stretch of Ligurian Sea coastline along its western edge. Drive the coast and you’ll discover thriving ports and beach towns fringed by sand and dotted with Tuscany’s iconic umbrella trees. Castiglione della Pescaia, Marina di Grosseto, Portoferraio, and Bibbona are just a few of the many beach-town favorites here. Italian beach culture—in which you pay for a chair and an umbrella that are already in place and often get access to bathrooms and showers as well—is super kid-friendly.  Looking for something a bit more adventurous? Board a ferry to one of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. Elba is the largest and best known, but smaller islands including Giglio and Giannutri offer the chance to vacation like a true Italian.

Child swinging with a view of tuscan hill town
Christine Sarkis

Kid-Oriented Attractions

Tuscany has its share of family-focused attractions, including theme parks, zoos, and water parks. Discover the world of Pinocchio, who was created by a Tuscan writer, at Pinocchio Park in Collodi. Ride a roller coaster at Cavallino Matto amusement park. See animals from near and far at the Giardino Zoologico or the Zoo at Poppi. Zip down waterslides and play in pools at one of two Acqua Village water parks in the region. Being in Tuscany with kids can be a great excuse to hang out with local families at kid-centric attractions.

Museums

Visiting Tuscany with kids offers an abundance of ways to bring learning to life. Get hands-on with re-creations of Da Vinci’s machines at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence. Learn about Galileo’s instruments of discovery at the Galileo Museum, also in Florence. Head to the Paleontological Museum in Montevarchi for a treasure trove of Pliocene and Pleistocene fossils, including saber-toothed tigers and a mammoth. And in Siena, find the Museo d’Arte per Bambini, an art museum geared specifically to children within a larger arts complex.

Cities and Towns

For most kids from North America, the cities and towns of Tuscany are as novel as a trip to the moon. With city walls to explore, piazzas to play in, and ancient narrow lanes to discover, there’s excitement—and often gelato—around every corner. Try Lucca for its kid-friendly historical center, Pisa for its tower photo op, Siena for the chance to play in its massive central piazza with kids from around the world, or any of the hundreds of smaller cities and towns.

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Christine Sarkis recently spent a month in Tuscany with kids. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

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