Updated Feb. 2018
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Places to visit in Italy with Kids
- 1.1 Best ways to travel around Italy with children
- 1.2 Below are some scenarios worth considering for a two-week itinerary for traveling Italy with kids:
- 1.3 Start your visit in Rome
- 1.4 Umbria – The Green Heart of Italy
- 1.4.1 Rent a car from Umbria Green Card to get around
- 1.4.2 Hire Francesca Dominici as a tour guide in Umbria
- 1.4.3 Hiking with the family at the Woods of Saint Francis of Assisi
- 1.4.4 Umbria has some of the best places in Italy for great food
- 1.4.5 Perugia – The Goretti Vineyard, a fantastic winery in Umbria
- 1.4.6 Enjoy nature at The Ferrovia Spoleto-Norcia
- 1.4.7 Ecobike and Green Card Umbria
- 1.4.8 Keep it environmentally-friendly in Umbria
- 1.5 Click Here to book our favorite HOTELS in Umbria
- 1.6 Tuscany with kids
- 1.7 Liguria – time for the beach
- 1.8 All roads lead back to Rome
Best Places to visit in Italy with Kids
We received an email from one of our food-loving readers, who asked our opinion on the best places to visit in Italy with kids. Upon writing her back, we realized that this may be a good template for those who want to travel to Italy as a family.
Traveling in Italy with kids is probably one of the most fruitful experiences, especially if you are a family that loves a bit of culture, nature, and of course, food. We’ve been visiting Italy with our daughter since she was 3 months old, totaling at least 10 times since. It’s one of our favorite countries for family travel.
Best ways to travel around Italy with children
Traveling to Italy with kids is easy, as there are many direct flights from most major cities to either Rome or Milan. We find that flying into Rome is a great starting point and the best way to find cheap flights is through Skyscanner. From there, one can choose from either using the rail system or to drive.
We found that the 1st Class 15-day continuous travel Global Pass from Eurail, and renting a car from Auto Europe Rental are the best options. Both provide the opportunity to be more spontaneous, which most kids, especially the kid in all of us, love.
Lastly, our partners at Gigi Guides has a FREE TRAIN GUIDE that you should definitely download, especially if it’s your first visit to Italy, it will explain them and help you maneuver the rail system in Italy and it’s free.
Below are some scenarios worth considering for a two-week itinerary for traveling Italy with kids:
Start your visit in Rome
Since you are already in Rome, stay two days. I don’t care if you’ve been there multiple times, there’s always so much more to see. It is simply one of the best places to visit in Italy with family.
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Hence, you can’t see it all in a day, or a hundred days for that matter, so take two for the sake of it. If you have more time, do consider staying in Rome for up to 5 days with kids, there’s so much to explore.
Start your day with a good espresso or cappuccino at the famed Caffe Greco on Via Condotti, and ask for a simple brioche as the locals do. No heavy waffles and bacon here.
Eating is an art in these parts, and sometimes slow and simple has its reasons. “Piano, piano”, as the Italians would say. Which translates to “slowly, slowly”, because there’s more to come throughout the day.
For a fun and insightful look at what Rome has to offer other than the better-known sites, consider booking a tour with Context Travel. There is one tour in specific named, Building Rome: Evolution of a City, which provides an in-depth appreciation for often overlooked wonders.
Context Travel Tours
This specific tour highlights some secondary locations that even frequent travelers to the city don’t often see, such as the Church of Sant’Ivo located on the campus of Sapienza College.
Watching the art students fawning over this Baroque masterpiece by Borromini, and sketching away on their pads, made our 12-year-old daughter, Bailey, inspired to be a college student abroad.
Still a kid, however, her favorite pit stop, was the one made at Giolitti, one of Rome’s traditional gelaterias. Truth be told, it may have been a favorite of the whole group.
Hotels to stay in Rome
As for accommodations, we’ve stayed at both Nerva Hotel in the Monti neighborhood and Splendor Suite in Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina and like both equally. They are both boutique hotels and within walking distance of all the main attractions and close to many local eateries, which make them a perfect choice for families visiting a city like Rome.
Where to eat in Rome
Lunch in Rome
For lunch, don’t get caught up with the rest of the tourist in sit down restaurants, instead eat with the Romans at places such as Trapizzino in the Testaccio neighborhood, where they serve what can only be called stuffed cone-shaped pizzas.
Some of the offerings include oxtail ragu and tongue with fennel. However, if you’re in the throws of sightseeing and Testaccio is too far to reach, visit Camp de’ Fiori and grab pizza cut to size for your appetite at Forno. We have an affinity for the one topped with potato.
Dinner in Rome
As for dinner, don’t be in such a rush. Participate in what Italians call Apperitivo. Go to the eclectic Monti neighborhood and find any eating or drinking establishment in the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti and they will be serving aperitivo.
It starts at about 4, but come around 6 and feel the energy of the people communing over drinks and gratuitous snacks right before dinner.
As for actual dinner, get to the end of this article and find our favorites. To read more about Rome, please read: Bon Appetour, Eating Like a Local in Rome.
Umbria – The Green Heart of Italy
After a few days in the “center of the world”, escape to the“Green Heart of Italy”, the region of Umbria. Yes, there is a ton of culture to be had in the towns that make up this region, but it’s called the “green heart” for a reason, and that is because of its natural surroundings.
This is the facet that should be appreciated and experienced most. There is no region more lush and stunning as this. A minimum of four days should be spent in Umbria.
RELATED POST Click >> to read what we did in Umbria as a family.
Rent a car from Umbria Green Card to get around
One of the best ways to take in this beauty is by renting a car from a company called, Umbria Green Card which provides environmentally conscious automobiles.
Their battery-powered cars, with special signage on the side, enables the driver to enter any town center. Entrance to the city center is usually reserved for government officials and employees. No other car rental offers this. There is a special spot just for these cars to charge and park without trouble.
Hire Francesca Dominici as a tour guide in Umbria
We also suggest finding a good guide as there are great finds scattered throughout the region. Francesca Dominici at Sistema Museo is such a guide.
We would have overlooked some of Italy’s greatest art treasures if it weren’t for her knowledge. More importantly, she’s fun and my kid certainly enjoyed the way she impressed upon us the beauty of this regions’ art, landscape, and gelato.
Hiking with the family at the Woods of Saint Francis of Assisi
Take the family on a hike along the Woods of Saint Francis of Assisi, and appreciate the nature spoken about earlier. After, visit the famous Basilica, then treat the family to a nice dinner at the Hosteria la Tradizione at the Hotel Dei Priori.
Umbria has some of the best places in Italy for great food
Have the kids get a taste of the best truffle-based pasta plates in the world. You may regret turning them on to such a luxurious item.
The adults should treat themselves to some of the famous Sagrantino wine from the region, which makes a perfect pairing for truffle dishes. It’s one of the best regions in Italy for great food that is of the earth.
Perugia – The Goretti Vineyard, a fantastic winery in Umbria
Speaking of Sagrantino, vineyards are some of the sites to visit in Italy. There are some great vineyards worth visiting in Umbria, and it’s never too early for the kids to appreciate what goes into wine-making.
The Goretti Vineyard, a short mini-metro ride ( a fun experience on its own) from Perugia offer great tours and tastings. There are also interactive cooking classes offered for all the family to join. Above all things, the Goretti family are wonderful and hospitable hosts. We didn’t want our day with them to end.
Enjoy nature at The Ferrovia Spoleto-Norcia
As for activities, another worth exploring is a hike through what was once the route of the old railroad that went up the hills of the town of Spoleto. You’ll walk over bridges and under tunnels where the tracks of the trains were once laid down.
Ecobike and Green Card Umbria
For hands down, sheer family enjoyment, bike tours offered by a company called, Ecobike, is a top choice. There are many routes that can be taken, but for families, we recommend the electric pedal assisted cycles through the towns of Spoleto, Bevagna, and Assisi. It’s hours of beautiful scenery and fun.
Keep it environmentally-friendly in Umbria
If biking isn’t your thing but you want to uphold being environmentally friendly, take a tour with Green Card Umbria. Yes, the same rental company referred to above.
If you had been driving all this time, take a break, and consider being driven around instead. Take in some of the best sites in one of their electric car. It’s not only a smooth ride, but the tour itself and the towns visited such as Orvieto and Todi, are some of the best cities for family vacations.
Tuscany with kids
Florence with kids
You can’t be this close and not go to Tuscany. Take three days in the region and take the kids to Florence. See the Duomo, Michelangelo’s David, but avoid all the lines and purchase your tickets to all the sites at the lesser-visited and overlooked Pitti Palace. This place is a gem and few crowds to deal with.
Don’t leave town without a meal at Cibreo, still one of the best Tuscan restaurants around. Looking for something a little more-on-the-go, try the Mercato Centrale. There you will find a food kiosk named, Nerbone, where you’ll have a choice of some hometown specialty sandwiches. Please keep an open mind, and you’ll find it all delicious.
For a wonderful, centrally located, family-run hotel, we chose to stay at Hotel Casci.
Pisa and Siena with kids
The other days, take a ride (train or car) to Pisa and Siena. Both places a must-see for the kids. However, if you’ve done this all before, think about doing it again, except skip the big sites.
Instead, walk amongst the locals and eat and drink your way through town as they do. Have the kids order their own gelato or drinks, wander into churches, not in the guidebooks, and try a tripe sandwich or two. Family time is best spent finding and doing new things together.
Pomaia with kids
There are lesser-known towns worth a visit. A couple of years ago, my wife Brenda and my daughter Bailey, spent some time in a small town named, Pomaia near the seaside and fell in love with the simple life that Tuscany has to offer. Stay at an agriturismo, as they did, and have the family appreciate life on an Italian farm. If you want a bonding experience with your son or daughter, travel Italy with them. My wife swears by it.
Liguria – time for the beach
Cinque Terre with kids
Need some real beach time? Head to the Liguria region, also known as the Italian Riviera and stay in one of the Cinque Terre Towns. Monterosso Al Mare is one of the best places to go in Italy for kids.
There are limited accommodations and Our choice of hotel was Marina Hotel, a family-run establishment on Via Buranco, which serves a great breakfast and light supper every day as part of your stay. They also provide beach towels and a tote filled with things you need for a beach day. We suggest staying at least three nights.
Monterosso Al Mare, in specific, has a wonderful beach scene and a quintessential seaside Italian vibe. It has the most to offer, and from my impression caters to families best. Other good towns to spend the day are obviously the other four.
However, with kids in tow, it’s going to be hard to peel them off the beach at Monterosso, so too see the other four may be a task. If you are able to, the second best town to spend a day would have to be Vernazza. It’s simply a storybook type of place. Probably the most beautiful of the five.
Hiking in the Cinque Terre with kids
With all of that said above, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that no visit to the Cinque Terre is complete without taking the famous hikes up and down the hills that connect the towns.
There’s bound to be a fight or two along the way, as some routes aren’t that easy to navigate. But it certainly brings the family together, and the views are breathtaking.
Best food and dishes in Cinque Terre
After a good hike, enjoy local favorites such as pesto pasta (Trofie al pesto), excellent seafood like Fritto Misto di Mari (lightly fried mixed seafood), and a treat favored by locals, farinata di Ceci. A chickpea flatbread, that is a hybrid of the best pizza and falafel you’d ever tasted, and it’s gluten-free.
Where to eat? Skip the beachfront properties and delve into the labyrinth of streets that make up the old parts of towns. Here you’ll find fewer signages and pictures in English, and you won’t hear electro-pop being played in high decibels. Just good food and great conversation.
All roads lead back to Rome
All roads lead back to Rome. On your last night, visit a neighborhood that is considered local, such as Monti or Trastevere. In Monti, eat at La Carbonara with the family and order the quintessential Roman dish, the restaurant’s namesake, and when you see everyone’s eyes widen from its goodness, promise to make it when you get home.
The other side of the Tiber River
If the other side of the Tiber is more to your liking, dine at Enoteca Ferrara, our favorite place in Rome and has been for many years. This gem of a restaurant offers the best dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients.
They have two venues, the formal restaurant, and an adjacent tavern. You can’t go wrong with either and gives you a good reason to go at least twice.
Start with some fried zucchini flowers, end with a dessert of panna cotta, and enjoy everything in between with some great family conversation. Order the rabbit if it’s offered that night. I still dream about it ’til this day.
I can’t wait to hear what our friend has to say. We’re pretty confident she’ll agree that these are the best places to visit in Italy with family. How about you?
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