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Five Nights in Florence Italy with Kids

March 30, 2018

My husband and I were married in a civil ceremony in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy in fall of 2000. Needless to say, Florence has a special place in our hearts. Fast forward to 2015: We have two kids and a dog and live on a cul-de-sac in the suburbs. Our kids were 11 and 8, definitely old enough (in our minds) to handle an international trip, and since we hadn’t been abroad since before we had kids, we decided to visit Florence Italy with kids in honor of our 15th wedding anniversary. We also decided to bring our 15 year old niece. Why not? In the end, we ended up spending two weeks in Italy and France. (You can read about our whole two-week trip to Italy and France here.)

We kicked off our two-week adventure with five nights in Florence.

 

Lodging

While many people wing it when it comes to their lodging reservations, we decided not to roll the dice, knowing we needed to find lodging for five of us, three of whom are children. Our experience has been that hotel rooms in Europe are pretty small, and with five of us, one of whom was a teenager and only child, we were going to need more space. We also like the option of being able to do laundry while traveling, so we can pack lighter, and a kitchen so that not all of our meals were in restaurants. That led us to choosing a rental apartment.

Our apartment in Florence was located near the Mercado Nuovo. We ended up renting from a rental company directly, rather than through VRBO or another intermediary. It was spacious and had a great view onto Via Rossa. It’s only flaw was that it was about five floors up, so lots of stairs. (It also had a crazy neighbor across the alley who threw some lemon rinds at our patio after I ignored his pleas to pay attention to him, but I digress.)

Transportation

We flew in and out of Milan on this trip. From there we took the train to Florence and our other destinations. Within Florence, we walked. The main tourist sites in Florence that we visited were very walkable.

 

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Five Days in Florence, Italy

We arrived in Florence tired but excited. Mission #1: find gelato. This place, right by the Mercato del Porcellino, ended up being our favorite place. And we tried a LOT of places.

 

Adventures on Horseback

Our first full day there, first thing in the morning, we had a horse ride out in Tuscany booked via Italy on a Budget, a tour company. We didn’t want to save the ride until later in our stay in case there was bad weather that would have postponed or canceled our tour. The driver who picked us up was friendly and informative, and a terrifying driver. He dropped us off at a horse ranch, where we were taken on a trail ride led by a cantankerous gentleman who did not speak English. Throw in one really sloth-like horse that only wanted to eat + our jet lag, and the ride was a little lacking in romance and charm. (I’m being diplomatic here.) But the views were wonderful.

After the ride we spent a little time in Monteriggioni, a small walled community. This was a fun little jaunt. And we got this keeper of our son, which we will forever treasure.

 

Art and Architecture

That afternoon we had tickets to the Uffizi Museum. I’m not an art person, and I tend to only enjoy collections of a single artist (like the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or the Chagall Museum in Nice), but it was still fun, and our niece enjoyed it.

On the next day we climbed the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. Not for those with who have physical limitations or claustrophobia, but if you make it up to the top, the views of Florence are spectacular!

 

 Other things we did in Florence:

  • da Vinci Museums: There are two da Vinci museums in Florence (both are referenced in the link). Both are kind of interesting places to spend an hour or so, especially with kids our kids’ age at the time.
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa: This is a super touristy thing to do, but we couldn’t send the kids back to the US without being able to say we saw it. What is actually cool to see in Pisa is the Keith Haring mural. Definitely look that up.
  • Jewelry Shopping: I like buying jewelry as a keepsake on my international trips. Given Florence’s notoriety for jewelry, I couldn’t resist getting a pair of earrings. Also, our daughter and niece got silver charms for a charm bracelet at Walter, the same store from which I got mine 18 years before.
  • The Accademia: I finally saw the real statue of David! This museum is much smaller than the Uffizi, and again, I’m no artist, so I can’t give a fair assessment, but I’m glad we went.
  • Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace: This area was really interesting. We spent a couple hours wandering around, but admittedly we were pretty tired by then.

Takeaways:

  • I just love Florence. It’s very walkable, and there is so much to do and see.
  • June was a much busier time to visit Florence than our past trips in the fall. There were a lot more tourists this time around.
  • Eat the gelato every chance you get. Seriously.
  • I wish I had enforced a stricter mandate for the kids to sleep on the plane on the way over, since it was an overnight flight. They were completely enamored with the movie selections on the plane, so they hardly slept. I think our jet lag may have lingered a bit longer and been a little more dramatic as a result.
  • We ended up having burgers at least twice on the trip to curb withdrawal symptoms for a few of our pickier eaters. Do what you need to do on an international trip. Not every meal needs to be an adventurous meal.
  • If you are taking a teenager on the trip, do everything you can to ensure they have some space to themselves. That worked pretty well for us (though I should ask her how she felt about it).
  • We have officially created international travel addicts! Our kids can’t wait to travel abroad again.

 

If you found this post useful, check out World is Wide’s other destination posts:

http://worldiswide.com/destinations/

 

16 Comments

  • Reply
    Jenny - Local Goes Global
    April 7, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Wow! This was a great read, as my husband and I always contemplate and discuss what it will look like when we have kids. We love traveling but worry that we won’t be able to as parents. This post gave us hope and encouraged us in believing kids are just another part of the adventure! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 7, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      Thanks! Honestly, we only did road trips until they were older. Their first flight was when they were about 6 and 9. Now that they’re older (and more self-sufficient) it’s awesome to take them places!

  • Reply
    Followingtherivera
    April 8, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I love Florence too! I live between London and Veneto, and love taking road trips to Firenze! It’s so romantic too, and I bet your kids enjoyed it as much you!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 8, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      There’s so much to love about Florence, even besides the fact that we were married there. 🙂 And yes, the kids loved it, too…especially the gelato! They’ve got the travel bug, for sure.

  • Reply
    Adventuregirleliana
    April 8, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    We missed Florence on my last and so far only trip to Italy! But next time. Glad your kids are hooked on International traveling! I have been traveling with Eliana since she was 4 months, it is just amazing!! Is he enjoys traveling SO much!!! Also, we should do touristy things in lands where we are tourists!!!
    I am kind of curious about the story about the neighbor begging for attention LOL

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 8, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      I hope you get to Florence one day. It’s so amazing! Yeah, the neighbor was a little creepy. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lana
    April 8, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve yet to visit Florence and would love to visit this amazing city soon. I love the fact that this city is walkable to many sights. Gelato would be on the top of my list too – I would have gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Climbing the 463 steps to the top of Duomo was definitely worth it for the stunning views of Florence. It’s great that the kids enjoyed the trip! : )

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 8, 2018 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks, Lana. Yes, Florence really lives up to the hype, though I might be a little biased since we were married there. 🙂 I hope you’re able to enjoy it someday!

  • Reply
    Alexander Popkov
    April 8, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    Florence is one of the cities in Italy that I regret missing out. I have traveled around almost the whole country and it happened that it wasn’t on the way.
    I have to make it there again.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 8, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      Definitely do. It’s a photographer’s dream (though pretty crowded with tourists at times). I hope you’re able to make it in the future!

  • Reply
    Nives
    April 9, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I read so many post about Florence, I’m planning my trip there this summer. I think when you’re traveling with a family or with some bigger group of people, the best way is to rent an apartment like you did, you have more space and you can cook on your on – there is no better solution. And they all said when you’re in Italy, you must try real gelato. But the most I like the horse ride, it brings me to my childhood. When I was a child, we had a horse. I would like to repeat that experience. Florence seems like a nice destination for it. Only thing that I don’t like about Italy is exactly language – they don’t speak English or is extremely hard to find someone who speaks it. I like on the end where you mentioned other thing to do there it’s really useful. Thanks for amazing tips!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 9, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Thanks Nives! I hope you enjoy Florence. It really is a lovely experience. We found much more luck with English speakers here than France. And the gelato is great! You’ll have to try a lot of different ones, as some were more delicious than others. 🙂

  • Reply
    Epepa Travel Blog
    April 9, 2018 at 9:00 am

    For a long time I have been dreaming of a trip to the Tuscan region. I would like to see not only Florence and other beautiful cities, but above all, picturesque villages away from busy routes, olive groves, vineyards … I hope that someday I will go there 🙂

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 9, 2018 at 9:07 am

      I hope you go, too! I have not spent enough time in Tuscany, so I too would like to see more of it.

  • Reply
    Christina
    April 9, 2018 at 11:24 am

    We spent a few days in Florence and absolutely loved the city. We didn’t make it to the top of the Duomo but we stood in awe of it several times from different view points. The horseback ride seems very enjoyable. We loved the Boboli Gardens. Such a beautiful place. We are glad you were able to see it to. Congrats on 15 years.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      April 9, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Thanks Christina! Yes, it’s a beautiful city with so much to see and do.

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