11 Best Tips for Traveling to Italy with Kids
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
A lot of planning (and money) is put into a trip to Italy with Kids. You want to make sure you make the most out of your vacation, your family’s expectations are met, and whining is kept to a minimum.
Good news! You have already made a great decision by choosing Italy for a family vacation with kids! Italy is a child-friendly country accommodating to tourists. Your kids will be happy with the food (can you say pizza, pasta, and gelato). Together, your family can enjoy the fascinating history and beautiful scenery.
Follow these eleven tips for traveling to Italy with kids to help with the planning, get everyone excited for the trip and, ensure your family enjoys your time together!
Keep Travel to a Minimum & Don’t Over Schedule
When planning your itinerary, minimize the amount of traveling you do by not going to a lot of different cities. Italy is more than its tourist sights. Enjoy the atmosphere, people, food, and see each place you visit up close. Pending how long you are traveling, choose one to three “home bases” to explore from, so you do not spend your precious vacation time schlepping your luggage and kids from one hotel to the other.
Schedule your tours and big sightseeing adventures earlier in the day and no more than one tour a day. Have a general plan for the rest of the day but be flexible. Leave time for downtime, exploring, gelato breaks, and play!
Let Kids Help with the Planning
During the planning process, let your kids pick some of the sites they would like to visit and the tours they would like to go on. Letting your kids help with the planning of your trip to Italy will give them ownership and should help build excitement and reduce whining. In the case of anxious kids, knowing what to expect will help to ease their anxiety.
Prepare Your Kids
To help your kids get excited about your trip to Italy and help them to put the sites they will see in context, try fun ways of educating them leading up to the trip. Some ideas are:
Books. Check out my list of books inspired by what Italian city you are traveling to and age range here.
Art activities. Enjoy art activities at home with your kids to give them an appreciation for the different techniques like mosaics or creating pottery with clay. Try my Italian Renaissance Fresco Painting for Children.
Cooking. Talk to your kids about the foods you may be eating in Italy. Look up traditional recipes for pizza, pasta, gelato or granita and try to make them at home. How might the traditional recipes be different from what you are used to eating?
Movies & Shows. Check out this list of eleven movies and TV series set in Italy. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what is appropriate for your kid.
Il Postino (This movie is in Italian)
Cinema Paradiso (This movie is in Italian with English subtitles and my favorite movie on the list)
Subscription Box. A subscription box like WompleMail encourages a love of reading and sparks your kid's curiosity about the world and different cultures. Fun storytelling and engaging activities about new and unique destinations are delivered to your mailbox twice a month. While you do not get to choose which country you will receive each month, the activities inspire appreciation of other cultures and builds a sense of global citizenship through stories and hands-on learning. (However, I do happen to know that Italy is a favorite country of theirs over at Womple Studios and a location they do cover). Click here to learn more.
Learn Key Italian Phrases
Practice with your kids a few key Italian phrases like the following.
Yes – Si
No – No
Please – Per Favore
Thank you – Grazie
You’re Welcome – Prego
Excuse me – Mi scusi
Good morning – Buon giorno
Good evening – Buona sera
Goodnight – Buona note
Read my article, Important Italian Phrases for Traveling with Kids, especially if you or anyone in your family has any food allergies.
Consider enhancing your family’s experience in Italy by studying the Italian Language before going. The Cultured Kid,is the #1 online foreign language program for kids with new lesson plans each week containing a wide variety of play-based activities designed to engage kids through fun and play! Click here and try it out for free for 7 days.
Get Off the Beaten Track
Some of the best experiences in Italy are often overlooked by tourists. You will frequently hear me say if you are only visiting the big cities in Italy, you are missing half the magic. Along with the famous sights such as the Colosseum, the Vatican and Pompeii also come long lines and crowds. Keep in mind children often have even less patience than we do for waiting in line. You should see these famous sites but schedule time to view the lesser-known small towns and sites as well.
For example, if you are in Rome, instead of making the two hours plus train ride to Pompeii consider the magnificently preserved ruins of Ostia Antica (only a 25-minute train ride away), bike the Appian Way, take a day trip to Lake Bracciano, or visit a local farm and learn about the food they produce there. The options are endless not only near Rome but throughout Italy.
You will be able to have these experiences almost all to yourself. With room to breathe and less stress, you will be able to enjoy time with your family discovering new experiences in a beautiful setting. Isn’t that why you are planning a trip to Italy in the first place?
Take a Kid-Friendly Cooking class
One of the things Italy is best known for is its food. Taking a kid-friendly cooking class is a wonderful way to spend time interacting with a local and learn about Italian culture. Kids can learn about the history of Italian food, learn cooking tips and the proper preparation of some of their favorite foods. Enjoy watching your kids take pride in making their own Italian dishes. Maybe they will be inspired to start cooking at home too! The best part of a cooking class is getting to eat what you make! Find kid-friendly cooking classes in Italy through cookly.com or view my kid-friendly directory by region.
Book a Kid-Friendly Tour or Art Workshop
Bring the history and art in Italy to life with a kid-centered tour or workshop. Find a family tour company tailored to kids like Arte Al Sole with tours and workshops in Rome, Florence, Venice, Lucca, Umbria, and Sicily. These tours are geared toward getting kids excited about the history, places, and the culture of Italy with interactive experiences such as an archaeological dig right in the Roman Forum, viewing masterpieces at the Florence Uffizi museum through a kid’s perspective, and hunting for medieval beasts in Lucca. View more options in my kid-friendly directory by region here.
Push Back Bedtime
If you are somewhere in the US, Italy’s time zone is 6 to 9 hours ahead of you. If your child's bedtime is 7 pm don't push to put them down at 7. Take advantage of the time difference and stay up later and sleeping in later than your schedule at home.
For us, at home in the US, our daughter's bedtime is 7 pm. Our family in Italy thinks we are crazy; kids there stay up late! Many restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 7:30 pm, so plan accordingly.
This being said, do prioritize sleep. A well-rested child is usually a happy one. All the hotels and apartments I’ve stayed in Italy have had blackout curtains or heavy shutters that do a great job of blocking out the sun in the morning. Great for sleeping in or taking an afternoon nap.
Wait Until Kids Can Carry Their Own Luggage for Train Travel
Train travel in Italy is different than plane travel. You do not check your luggage, and you are responsible for carrying all of your luggage on and off the steps of the train and storing it on board.
Unless your family is very good at packing extremely light, wait until your kids are old enough and capable of carrying their own luggage before traveling throughout Italy by Train.
No Need to Ask for a Kid’s Menu
Most restaurants in Italy do not have kids’ menus. This doesn’t mean they are not kid-friendly, especially the casual trattorias and osterie. Most restaurants will custom make items like pasta on request for kids. When our daughter was going through a tomato faze, every restaurant we went to was happy to serve her a plate of freshly cut tomatoes drizzled with just a little olive oil.
Turn Sightseeing into a Game
Always remember kids learn when they are having fun! Create a scavenger hunt while walking around Italian cities, for example, who will be the first person to spot a gelateria? How many Vespas can you find? Can you find laundry hanging from a window? You can get more specific by city.
In Rome: Throughout Rome, you will find the acronym SPQR. The Latin Phrase means “Senatus Populusque Romanus” (The Senate and People of Rome). This acronym refers to the ancient Roman Republic and was first used in 80 BC. See how many you can count and search for it throughout Rome on utility holes, coats of arms, coins, plaques, and many more places.
For kids ages six and up, purchase the book Mission Rome: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure.
If visiting the Villa Borghese Gallery, download my scavenger hunt here.
In Florence: Search for the Medici family balls. The Medici were a political dynasty in Florence during the Renaissance. Their coat of arms consists of six balls on a gold shield. This emblem decorates many buildings all over Florence and Tuscany. Search the Palazzos, churches, and monuments for this symbol, indicating Medici had connections to, or that they were financed with Medici money.
In Venice: You will find images of a lion with wings everywhere. The winged lion represents the patron Saint Mark of Venice. Centuries ago, the nobility in Venice used to keep captive lions to represent their power and strength. How many lions can you find?
Your next step in planning your trip to Italy with kids is downloading my Free Travel Planner! Included in the planner is:
Travel Planner Timeline
Suggested Travel Gear
Carry-on Checklist by Age
Packing Checklist by Age
Discount Codes for Tours, Rentals, Babysitters & More!
Sign up to download the planner here:
I promise not to spam you and only use this information to send you updates from the blog and information relevant to traveling to Italy with kids.
Once you hit subscribe, look for the email in your inbox. If you don't find it, check your junk or spam mail.
Pin this article for later:
This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links helps me keep Piccolo Italiano running at no cost to you. I only recommend products and services I think you will love!