Over the last 13 years my husband and I have lived and raised our 3 children in Italy and done our fair share of exploring this beautiful country as a family. When considering travelling to Italy, one traditionally thinks of the wealth of historical sites, the breathtaking art and architecture, and one of the best loved cuisines, all within the stunning natural beauty from the Alps to the Aegean – a perfect tourist destination.
But, one of the things I love most about Italy, is that it is a family centric culture. Here, in Italy, family has the highest priority and this shows in how they treat travellers to their country, especially families.
Inevitably, you will encounter kind and generous people who will go out of their way to make your small travellers happy and comfortable. Italians love the little ones and aren’t shy to show it – usually by squeezing cheeks and loudly proclaiming “che bel bambino!”. No worries, your kids will get used to it and will most likely return home with an amazing sense of self-confidence.
Living in Italy has given us the inside scoop on the best places to visit, most comfortable accommodations, favourite places to eat out and just about anything else you would need to know about traveling through Italy in famiglia.
Italy is world renown for its delectable cuisine and luckily it’s also one that most kids absolutely adore. On just about any menu your kids will find something they’ll love to eat (and recognise). Some favourites of local Italian kids are Pasta Rossa (pasta with tomato sauce), Riso Giallo (saffron risotto), Milanese con Patatine (breaded pork cutlet with french fries) and of course Pizza Margherita (pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella). And if you don’t see something your child likes on the menu don’t be afraid to ask – they are usually more than willing to whip up a simple pasta for the little ones. My kid’s favourite thing to order in a restaurant is a variety or antipasto plates. You can’t go wrong with sliced meats, cheeses, olives and fresh Italian bread.
Of course one of the main gastronomic attractions for kids in Italy (and adults actually) is the iconic Italian gelato. Gelaterias are found on just about every street corner and are usually made with fresh, high quality ingredients. A promised gelato will help kids get through the museum visits, the long hours of pavement pounding, the intense summer heat and the over exhaustion of traveling that can sometimes get too much for them. Look for signs that say Gelato Artigianale for the highest quality and home-made ice cream. And remember in the hot summer months it’s quite normal to visit a gelateria more than once a day!
When traveling with kids you can never go wrong with a beach visit. And Italy boasts both a myriad of coastlines and beautiful lakes to choose from. The world famous Costa Amalfitana (Unesco World Heritage Site), the Ligurian coast with it’s famous Cinque Terre villages, the Northern Lakes including Lago Como and Lago Maggiore and the pristine aquamarine waters of Sardinia will be appreciated by the whole family.
Italian beaches are very family friendly with chairs and umbrellas for rent, small beach playgrounds and restaurants just metres from the water’s edge. From here, parents can enjoy a plate of fresh Fritto Misto while watching the kids frolic in the warm waters. Warning: since one has to pay for a space, these beaches can end up being quite pricey but well worth it for a few days of relaxing family time.
Read on for more tips for traveling in Italy as a family…