Creating shows for preschoolers is my “thing”. I dare say that I have a “secret sauce” that I put forth in all my shows. This enables me to immerse myself in this age group and create something they will not only LOVE but learn from. Well, I met my match when it comes to creating travel experiences that kids LOVE and learn from – – Meet Kate, my wickedly smart friend from Firenze.
Kate Collins-Manetti had formed Buongiorno Principessa
so that “we can all experience Italy with the feeling that we are each someone’s special princess”.
To say Kate knows the best restaurants, hot spots, guides and secret itineraries throughout Italy is just the beginning.
This Colorado native has been living in the heart of Tuscany for almost 20 years and has certainly done her homework on the subject.
Those who know me have heard about our incredible family trips to Italy and I really can’t take the credit. It all belongs to Kate. So I asked the Queen of Italian travel to share her Top 6 Tips for traveling with kids 10 and under in Italy.
1) Plan to do LESS!
Kids can’t tour like adults. You’ll all have more fun if you back off the touring and leave time to relax at a nice park, stop for gelato breaks etc.
2) Please and Thank you
Teach your child (regardless of how little they are) a few words of Italian before they come. Italians love children..and having your child say buongiorno, per favore & grazie, will make people smile & bend over backwards to help you (not to mention, getting your kids excited about another language).
3) Museums – Do your research!
If you want to hit some of the bigger museums (i.e.. the Uffizi in Florence), consider getting a guide who is specialized in working with kids & families – you will get so much more out of the experience! If you want to go on your own, try and choose a handful of artworks (possibly based on your child’s interests) that you can look at more in-depth with your child so that the experience is not just a blur. Also consider smaller museums where there will be much smaller crowds & possibly more kid-friendly exhibits – places like Natural History or Science Museums.
4) Gardens and Piazze
Make sure to allow time for kids to be kids & get out the wiggles. Italy has some amazing gardens which are fabulous places to explore as a family. The many piazzas are also great for kids to run around, kick a soccer ball with some Italian bambini, see a market, etc.
While Italians love kids, restaurants do not usually cater to children (no colouring books & kiddy menus). So consider bringing your own colouring books or activities (you can usually find great kids’ activity books on specific cities), & you can always order pasta in bianco (pasta with butter or oil) or milanese (fried chicken – but sometimes veal) for pickier eaters. That said, a new place can be a great opportunity to get kids to try new foods. And remember, when ordering pizza, if you want it sliced you will have to ask (they will happily do this for kids).
6) More Practical Tips/Concerns
Changing Tables are few & far between in Italy, as are hand sanitizers – so bring lots of wipes for smaller children. If travelling in summer, be sure to bring sunscreen and bug spray. Make sure kids (& adults) wear very comfortable shoes as it is likely you will be walking more than you are used to. Consider bringing a small & inexpensive umbrella stroller which is more portable than the large city strollers many people travel with (& you won’t stress if it gets lost or damaged during air travel which is relatively common).
Grazie Mille Kate!!
Photography: Claire Zurek