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Italy With Kids: A Complete Guide

Restaurants, activities, tips, dos and don'ts to give kids a dose of la dolce vita in Italy.
Italy With Kids: A Complete Guide
Alicia M. Butler

Italians value family time above all else. You’ll see parents all over the Italian countryside toting their children along to adult activities and attractions. Kids eat what the adults do and are often entertained by restaurant waitstaff. If you’re visiting Italy with kids, you won’t have a hard time finding activities that’ll entertain the whole family. Here at Journy, we've planned our fair share of family-friendly Italy itineraries. And because every Journy itinerary is customized, we've done everything from plan around 3pm nap time (which is easier than you'd think in Italy...more on that below) to make sure every restaurant and activity has room for a stroller.

Our go-to tips for general international travel with kids can be found here, with Italy-specific recommendations below.

When to Visit Italy With Kids

Like most tourist-heavy destinations, Italian cities can get super crowded during the summer months. Not only will you see other foreigners on vacation, but you’ll also run into plenty of Italians enjoying their summer holidays too.

We recommend visiting in May, September or October if you want to spend plenty of time outside. Or, head to Italy in December for the holiday season and the 12 Days of Christmas.

Tips for Traveling to Italy With Kids

  • Get ready to walk a lot—and often on uneven, cobblestone surfaces.
  • Enjoy adult activities (like wine tasting) by hiring a local babysitter (which your personal Journy trip designer can take care of!).
  • Ask if the winery you’re visiting offers activities for kids.
  • Bring your own travel booster seat or highchair to restaurants.
  • Be prepared to change dirty diapers in a stroller as many public places don’t have changing tables.
  • Don't be afraid to breastfeed in public—it's widely accepted.
  • Don’t pigeonhole yourself to just kid-friendly attractions, as most museums and attractions offer activities for little ones.

Movies to Watch With Kids Before Traveling to Italy

We recommend watching a few movies that were set and filmed in Italy before heading overseas. That way, your kids will have a better idea of what they’re in for on vacation.

Most of the movies on this list are rated PG-13, but a few have PG and G ratings, making them ideal for little ones.

When in Rome (G)
Pinocchio (G)
Only You (PG)
Italian Job (PG-13)
Cinema Paradiso (PG-13)
Roman Holiday (PG-13)
Angels & Demons (PG-13)
Letters to Juliet (PG)
Twilight New Moon (PG-13)
Much Ado About Nothing (PG-13)

Dos and Don’ts of Traveling To Italy With Kids

DO:

  • Encourage your kids to order kid-friendly meals off the regular menu.
  • Bring your own changing mat for little ones.
  • Plan on napping in the afternoon when businesses close for lunch.
  • Use the trains to get from city to city in Italy; unlike local public transportation, they’re extremely reliable.

DON'T:

  • Don’t expect to see a kids’ menu at every restaurant.
  • Don’t expect to find changing tables and highchairs in most restaurants.
  • Don’t worry about your kids disturbing others too much; kids are omnipresent even at adult activities in Italy.
  • Don’t rely on public transportation alone; trains and buses aren’t as reliable as in many major cities.

Best Regions to Travel in Italy With Kids

When it comes to traveling with kids in tow, both big cities and sprawling countrysides are appealing.

If you’re staying in a centrally located hotel or apartment in a city, you can get pretty much anywhere on foot. Yet, if you’re planning on renting a car or hiring a driver, staying in the country is a great way to avoid traffic. Those coveted car rides can also give tired feet a much-needed break.

Big Cities

You could realistically spend your entire vacation traveling from city to city in Italy—and never step foot in a rural area.

The most popular cities in Italy for tourism are:

Does that mean you need to stick to these cities? Definitely not! Many travelers love smaller, less-traveled cities, like Bologna, Verona, Siena, Lucca and Pompeii. These are all worth visit, too.

Not sure what cities to visit and how long to stay in each? Give us a call! We'd be happy to help you decide.

Wine Country With Kids

We get it, the idea of taking your kids to wine country probably seems impossible. How are you going to entertain them during an activity they can’t participate in?

If you have teenagers over the age of 16, you might want to consider allowing them to taste a few wines. The legal drinking age in Italy is only 16, so it’s completely legal. (Imagine if your first foray into drinking taught you how to slowly savor a glass of Montepulciano?)

However, if you’re not into a hands-on wine experience with your kids, you have two options:

  1. Book a babysitter for the day
  2. Book a kid-friendly wine tour

Of course, there are plenty of other activities in wine country that appeal to both adults and kids, too, including:

Smaller Towns With Kids

We recommend checking out a few small towns in Italy to give your kids an idea of what ‘real life’ looks like in the countryside. There’s plenty to do in these areas, and you’ll get a little break from running around the big cities all day.

Popular activities in the smaller villages and towns include:

  1. Hiking
  2. Picnicking
  3. Swimming
  4. Touring medieval castles
  5. Playing in town squares
  6. Visiting local festivals and markets

READ MORE: How To Plan Your Multi-City Dream Trip To Italy

Eating Out With Kids in Italy

When it comes to eating out, you might want to do a little recon before getting on the airplane. Not all restaurants are kid-friendly and practically no restaurants offer kids menus. Luckily, if your kids love pasta, they shouldn’t have a hard time finding something to eat.

Tips For Eating Out With Kids

  • Check restaurant hours beforehand—many close for lunch, and dinner doesn’t start until around 7 p.m. in many small towns.
  • Book a cooking class for an ‘easy’ meal that teaches kids the basics of Italian cuisine.
  • Make reservations for as many meals as possible; many restaurants book up for lunch and dinner. (Don't have time to research restaurants, make sure there's kid-friendly options AND make reservations? Journy can help.)
  • Don’t assume restaurant staff will all understand English; get ready to try out your Italian or bring a translator!
  • Head to the supermarket in the morning for healthy snacks to dole out during the day.
  • Stop by local markets for healthy snacks and cool souvenirs.
  • Italian bakeries are breakfast and dessert paradises for kids; look for pistachio-cream-filled croissants, hazelnut baked goods and chocolate bread.
  • Talk to the baker if your child is allergic to nuts, tree nuts and/or eggs.

READ MORE: The Founder Of Puglia's Most Respected Cooking School Wants You To Stop Thinking Of All Italian Food As The Same

Kid-Friendly Activities in Italy

When it comes to attractions in Italy, you need to be prepared for plenty of walking. Most of the historical attractions require hoofing it around uneven surfaces that aren’t ideal for strollers.

The good news is that Italians put so much emphasis on the importance of family that there are tons of activities geared toward kids.

Even attractions that aren’t kid-specific feature activities for little ones.

We recommend taking your kids on kid-friendly tours and enjoying recreational activities your family loves back home, like relaxing at the beach or a lake. Other popular attractions include:


Looking for more family-friendly travel guides? Discover the best of Tokyo, Kyoto, Barcelona and Napa with kids.

inspiration
3 October 2019
6 min read

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