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Seeking Inspiration - Italy with kids

#1
The kids have a school break during the last week in October and we are feeling the need for an Italian adventure. We played with the idea of the Italian Riviera, but it is the wrong season. We are thinking about Venice, but is it too touristy?

We need some inspiration. Where should we take the kids for their first taste of Italy? Our trips tend to revolve around art, culture, history, and nature. We are travelling down from Geneva, so air and train travel is no problem.

Any thoughts out there?
 
#2
Not necessarily the worst time to go to the Italian Riviera, but I'll put in a strong word for the Amalfi Coast. We've been in October before and it's been very comfortable weather-wise. The sea (or a pool) will interest most kids. There is much to explore on the vast network of under used paths, though a stern lecture on safe footing would be a useful pre-cursor. Boat trips, Pompeii/Vesuvius, great pizza (but IMO better seafood and fine fruit/veg) should be another strong draw.

If you enjoy something a little more chilled, then Ravello is special, and the kids should easily make friends in the pedestrianised main square in the evening. If more energetic/adventurous then a logistically easier location such as Amalfi or Sorrento might appeal.
 
#5
Look for Agriturismo's whenever you can. We've stayed at many. Many are very kid friendly with pools, horses, animals and other farm activities. Many also have restaurants, that are usually very good, so you can have breakfast, leave for the day's activities, return to relax and explore the farm activies, then have dinner there. Very family friendly.
 
#7
Kids love Venice. Not so crowded in October as in the summer.
More info?
But... is Venice real, or a Disney like tourist attraction that will gladly empty your pockets for a good time? More info is always welcome.

Look for Agriturismo's whenever you can. We've stayed at many. Many are very kid friendly with pools, horses, animals and other farm activities. Many also have restaurants, that are usually very good, so you can have breakfast, leave for the day's activities, return to relax and explore the farm activies, then have dinner there. Very family friendly.
Agriturismo does sound like a lot of fun. We stayed at a farm in Vermont (Fat Sheep Farms... free plug) and had a great time. My only concern is that late October will probably be after the growing season. Will much be happening on the farm?
 

ellen

100+ Posts
#8
The big ones are 6 and 8. There one year old is along for the ride.
We took our then 7-year old to Rome and Venice. She was learning bible stories in Sunday school so it was fun to see the Sistine chapel with her as she spotted stories she knew on the ceiling. She also enjoyed Castel Sant'Angelo although I didn't realize until we'd climbed through the entire place and out onto the roof deck how Disney-addled her little brain was. She'd patiently made it through the entire tour but was disappointed at the end and asked me where was the princess - in her mind every castle must have a princess. She was fascinated by the ruins at the Forum (in those days it was free so we walked through every day), especially by ongoing excavation works. I think her favorite thing about Rome was finding and keeping track of all of the stone animals in fountains and statues around town, there is a veritable zoo in stone.

In Venice she loved putting on boots and walking through the acqua alta (we were there the first week of November) and the Guggenheim museum (at that point in her life she wanted to become an artist). She was a little put off by the secret itineraries tour of the Doge's palace because of the discussions of prisoners in the attic, we heard about that for weeks afterward.
 
#9
We took our 10 year old to Orvieto and since he wanted a town experience half the time and a country experience the other 1/2 we stayed 5 days in Orvieto proper which is not very busy in October. We did day trips to Bomarzo where the estate is such fun to roam or run around and see all the amazing oversized rock "monster" sculptures. We also picnicked there. We went to Lake Bolsena where there is a beach and also rented bikes to ride partway around the lake. We stayed in house in the country, with a yard for throwing the baseball around; took a cooking class with a sweet man who made my grandson's day by showing him how to make pasta. We sat in cafe's and had gelato and he wrote and sketched in his journal. We picked olives at a friend's farm and then went with them to watch the oil being pressed at the frontoia. He loved the 10 days we spend there, loved the ruins we took him to see and the Orvieto Underground tour. He was rarely bored! If this sort of trip/place interests you, lmk and I'll give you some websites.

Ciao,
Cheryl
www.italianexcursion.com
 

jan

100+ Posts
#10
"But... is Venice real, or a Disney like tourist attraction that will gladly empty your pockets for a good time? More info is always welcome. "

Yes, Venice it totally real and wonderful.
All depends on what you are really after. The art, history and culture are real. There is not much in the way of nature except the lagoon.

Let them hunt for lions all over Venice.
Go to the Naval museum to see all the historical boats.
You could enjoy a rowing lesson iwth rowvenice.org with them (not the 1 yr. old, obviously)
Shop at the Rialto Market where they can see all different kinds of fish and shelfish.
In October there should still be lots of free Biennale (contemporary art) exhibits you can just happen to pass and enter. Short and sweet, perfect for kids.
Gelato--goes without saying almost.
Climb to the upstairs of the Basilica San Marco for the 4 huge horses and the views.
Take them to Campo San Giacomo del orio or the Gesuiti Campo to see local kids playing.

So much to do and to love in Venice!
 
#11
"But... is Venice real, or a Disney like tourist attraction that will gladly empty your pockets for a good time? More info is always welcome. "

Yes, Venice it totally real and wonderful.
All depends on what you are really after. The art, history and culture are real. There is not much in the way of nature except the lagoon.

Let them hunt for lions all over Venice.
Go to the Naval museum to see all the historical boats.
You could enjoy a rowing lesson iwth rowvenice.org with them (not the 1 yr. old, obviously)
Shop at the Rialto Market where they can see all different kinds of fish and shelfish.
In October there should still be lots of free Biennale (contemporary art) exhibits you can just happen to pass and enter. Short and sweet, perfect for kids.
Gelato--goes without saying almost.
Climb to the upstairs of the Basilica San Marco for the 4 huge horses and the views.
Take them to Campo San Giacomo del orio or the Gesuiti Campo to see local kids playing.

So much to do and to love in Venice!

Thanks for the response. The rowing lesson looks like fun. I'll have to email them to see if they will offer a class for my kids. It never hurts to ask... We did a cheese tasting class for the older kid when she was 6 and had a blast. Right now I'm looking at this boat company for a 6 hour cruise. it is expensive, but will be the highlight of the trip. http://www.ilbragozzo.it/itineraries/north-lagoon/?lang=en

We would rent an apartment, so a daily stop at the rialto market and neighboring fish market for dinner ingredients will be part of the trip.

We took our then 7-year old to Rome and Venice. She was learning bible stories in Sunday school so it was fun to see the Sistine chapel with her as she spotted stories she knew on the ceiling. She also enjoyed Castel Sant'Angelo although I didn't realize until we'd climbed through the entire place and out onto the roof deck how Disney-addled her little brain was. She'd patiently made it through the entire tour but was disappointed at the end and asked me where was the princess - in her mind every castle must have a princess. She was fascinated by the ruins at the Forum (in those days it was free so we walked through every day), especially by ongoing excavation works. I think her favorite thing about Rome was finding and keeping track of all of the stone animals in fountains and statues around town, there is a veritable zoo in stone.

In Venice she loved putting on boots and walking through the acqua alta (we were there the first week of November) and the Guggenheim museum (at that point in her life she wanted to become an artist). She was a little put off by the secret itineraries tour of the Doge's palace because of the discussions of prisoners in the attic, we heard about that for weeks afterward.
Rome... one day! The kids lack the common sense at their age for a big city trip like that. ;)
 
Last edited:

GailS

100+ Posts
#12
#13
I might have another trip to plan one day... a pizza tour where I will take the kids to various cities with different pizza styles and have the kids compare and contrast them. I can claim that as culinary education, right?
 
#14
Look for something like "eatwith" - I'm sure someone here has info on an Italian site that invites you to share a homemade meal with a local in their home. Eatwith.com has cities around the world, and the idea always intrigues me. I haven't ever use them, but will one day when our travel dates coincide with a listed city and host. (It reminds me of the now defunct "Hidden Kitchen" in Paris, which was awesome!).
 
#15
Sicily is the best to visit with the kids - they have mount Etna, Etnaland, adventure park with ziplines, everything about it makes kids interested about the whole culture:)
 
#16
Agriturismo does sound like a lot of fun. We stayed at a farm in Vermont (Fat Sheep Farms... free plug) and had a great time. My only concern is that late October will probably be after the growing season. Will much be happening on the farm?[/QUOTE]

I would think that those with animals would still be up and active. Horse riding etc. It's also fun to see things like parmesan cheese or prosciutto being made. We've done that in Emilia Romagna. Those with olive crops might be busy harvesting for oil production. Porcini farms may still be harvesting, depending upon where you are. And, often there are cooking lessons to be had. So, it's just a matter of researching and contacting the farms to find out ahead of time. :)
 
#17
There will be still produce coming in, plus the produce that takes a little prep e.g. olive oil, jams etc. The colours can also be wonderful. I'd say November tends to be the time where it all starts feeling a noticeably colder, and we've enjoyed fine weather in mid-late October before.
 

NWL

New Member
#18
Italy with kids is the BEST! Venice is touristy yes, and magical YES. It is also very manageable with kids with the bonus that there are no cars to protect them from! You don't need much time there to get what is special about it. Besides the boats and bridges, they (you all) may enjoy a glass blowing tour - again touristy but there are probably some that are less so.
From there, you really can get a great taste of Italy even with (some may argue because) staying large cities. Somewhere like Verona is lovely and easy from Venice. Florence is a bit bigger but easy to get around. One can no longer wander in and out of churches for the artistic treasures housed in them, but as the Futurists rightly claimed, the whole city s a museum, so just wandering is a feast for the eyes. My kids loved doing cooking classes in our apartments in various locations (there are many agencies for that in Florence) and there was a tour at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence that was fantastic. http://musefirenze.it/en/musei/museo-palazzo-vecchio/
 
#19
Thanks everyone. I have started a thread about a trip this October in Venice. I have ideas for potential trips in the future to Emilia Romana, Rome, Naples/Pompei, and Sicily.... I am also looking for Agroturismos in Piedmont for potential long weekends.
 
#20
I might have another trip to plan one day... a pizza tour where I will take the kids to various cities with different pizza styles and have the kids compare and contrast them. I can claim that as culinary education, right?
Apologies for missing this first time round.
Although there will be subtle differences, it really is a Napolitana tradition, and many all over Italy were set up by people who had settled from there. Now pasta, that can be compared and contrasted, as there are regional specialities in the pasta, and in what goes with it.

We've stayed in a few agriturismi in Piemonte, so if the Langhe region, Santa Vittoria, Cuneo, Ghemme or Bubbio appeal, then just ask.
 

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