A Family Guide to Florence
02 February 2016
With its striking historical architecture and fascinating cultural museums, Florence is not only beautiful; it has abundance of family-friendly activities to enjoy as well. From interactive exhibits to antique carousel rides, this Renaissance city has plenty to offer both young explorers and their more mature companions. If you’re planning a family holiday, follow our insider’s guide to the most exciting child-friendly attractions in Florence.
Explore Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio, meaning ‘old palace’ in Italian, is a family museum that invites visitors to walk in the footsteps of the Medici family, who called the palace home during the Renaissance. It’s a striking building with a fascinating history and, best of all, there’s a whole afternoon’s worth of activities to keep children, and adults, entertained. Book a tour to get the most out of the experience and enjoy dramatic and insightful stories of the palace’s intriguing past. A highlight is the ‘Life at Court’ exhibition in the Sala Grande, where guests of all ages can get dressed up in costumes from the sixteenth century – an experience that makes for some entertaining holiday photos.
Step back in time at Museo Horne
The nearby Museo Horne offers another excellent opportunity to delve into the lives of noble Renaissance families in Florence – this time through the Corsi family. Explore the Renaissance palace with an experienced educator and discover paintings, sculptures and furniture dating back to the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Excursions are tailor-made to suit the age of the audience, and tours can be broken up with interactive workshops such as wood craftsmanship and role-playing banquet games.
Ride the Antique Carousel
Merry-go-rounds are always a sure-fire way to grasp a child’s attention, but what makes Antique Carousel even more special is its history. The carousel, located in the beautiful Piazza della Repubblica, dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and has been run by the same family (the Piccis) for five generations. Riders have a choice of 20 brightly-painted horses and two gilded King’s carriages, which are even more striking at night, when the sun sets and the multi-coloured lights shine.
Sample authentic gelato
If energy levels dip, give them a boost with some traditional Italian gelato. The authentic Italian ice cream available across Florence is some of the best in the world and, luckily for visitors, there’s a gelateria on virtually every street corner. Must-visit locations include the city’s oldest gelato shop, Vivoli on Via dell’Isola delle Stinche, and La Carraia, the birthplace of gelato, located on Piazza Nazario Sauro.
Roam the Boboli Gardens
Just over the river from Hotel Savoy is the beautiful Boboli Gardens. The largest monumental green space in Florence, the gardens’ history dates back over four centuries. Spend a sunny afternoon exploring the grounds and discover focal points such as the fascinating Buontalenti's Grotto, which was built in the 1580’s; Neptune's Fishpond; Parigi's Fountain of the Ocean; and a Roman amphitheatre that features an Egyptian obelisk at its centre.
Get creative at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
If creativity flows in your family’s veins, make time to visit the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum. The museum offers an excellent selection of family-themed tours and activities, such as art classes, entertaining games where children can test working models of Da Vinci’s inventions, and walks through the picturesque Tuscan countryside to the birthplace of the esteemed Italian polymath.
Reach new heights at Vincigliata Adventure Park
Put yourself and your family to the test at Vincigliata Adventure Park in Fiesole. The Tree Experience is a particularly popular activity for youngsters and involves a challenging, but safe, course through the trees via a series of raised bridges, nets, jumps and suspended pathways. Just don’t look down.
Image credits: cover image © AleksanderNakic/iStock. Gelato © HüseyinHarmandağ/iStock. Boboli Gardens © nito100/iStock. Gallery at Leonardo di Vinci Museum © Museo Leonardiano in Vinci.