Outside of Florence, there is no other city in the world where every great “father of” has lived, studied, created, and thrived. Visiting Florence with kids is such an educational experience that every worldschooling family should put it on their itinerary at least once. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance, modern science, and where the moons of Jupiter were found and calculated. This is the Florence of our textbooks and even the Florence of today has played host to many greats.
Though we have seen many pictures and studied the art, our expectations heading into a visit to Florence with kids were surpassed. It was so much better.
So much of today’s tourism is fake. Specific points of interest are well kept, appeasing tourists while the residents live in subpar areas. This did not appear to be the case in Florence. Each and every street was as stunning as the next. Around every corner was this year’s award-winning “best neighborhood in the world.” The world’s best gelato and granite are claimed far and wide—but only achieved by few. Luckily, all the gelato is superb, and you can enjoy it almost anywhere with a view of this fabulous city.
Finding the Hidden Treasures of Florence with Kids
Anytime you travel to a high tourism city, you risk getting lost in the crowds of people, overpaying for water, and missing the truly good parts. The tourist traps are real, very real unless you know where to go. Having the knowledge of a good friend who lives and works in Florence, we were able to see a part of the city that otherwise would not have been discovered. Our top things to see may be quite different than a travel guide.
- Ospedale degli Innocenti: This beautiful orphanage was home to Florence’s abandoned children for over 400 years. Though the idea of putting an orphanage on your must-see list while touring Florence with kids may seem strange, the building is beautiful and sits in the middle of a picturesque piazza in the heart of the city. The museum de Innocenti offers more insight into the orphanage’s history. There is also a rooftop terrace with the most spectacular view of the Duomo.
- Random musicians: Occasionally, you will stumble upon a musician playing for pocket change near the main attractions. These are not just people trying to make a buck, most of them are music students and their work is beautiful. This is a great time to be traveling Florence with kids. You have an excuse to grab a snack or enjoy your packed lunch and just sit and enjoy it.
- Michelangelo’s Graffiti: Tucked behind a statue on a corner of a building in Piazza della Signoria is a small carving that the myth says was created by Michelangelo. When Michelangelo returned to Florence in 1499 to begin work on ‘David,’ it is said that he witnessed a man being led through the streets to be publically executed and was so taken by the man’s face that he carved it into the stone wall where he stood. No proof that the piece is in fact done by Michelangelo has ever been found, but it is a very unique thing to see in the city. You can, easily, visualize what Michelangelo may have seen that day from his hiding place among the buildings.
- The Galileo Galilei Museum of Science: Significantly less frequented, but just as enchanting as the Uffizi and Accademia. The Galileo Museum is a combination of collections from the beginning of Florencia’s scientific discovery. If you are a fan of Galileo or the Medici family then this museum is a must-see. The Medici family funded and commissioned constant scientific research during their rule. Also on display are Galileo’s instruments used to discover the moons of Jupiter and the planet Venus. To be in the presence of such simple yet world-changing object is an opportunity you shouldn’t ignore.
Hidden Food Treasures in Florence
The food treasures in Florence are quite endless, but two places are really worth mentioning. The first place was Ara—a beautiful, tucked away Sicilian bakery—that makes their fresh strawberry granade (slushies) every morning. Divine. They are a local favorite and typically get passed over by tourists as they are not loud and in your face like the other vendors. When you leave the Accademia museum, take an immediate left and there is Ara.
The second place, Ristorante Accademia, which has a full menu of all things wonderful. We tried the truffle pasta, but the entire menu looked like absolute perfection. Sitting right in the heart of San Marco Piazza, you really can’t miss it. Try pairing your dish with great wine and exceptional company—even if you need to make new friends while eating dinner.
The Value of a Local Friend
With our military lifestyle, we frequently have friends in faraway places. When visiting their (new) hometown, let them play guide. We did this in Florence and it really made the visit better. Our friend’s knowledge of the city, the back streets, and the city’s history was truly an asset to us.
He was able to turn an otherwise stressful, big city stop into something magical. We got to see Florence just like the people who live there. We experienced the open spaces, the best the city had to offer. Having someone who can show you around, even if its a new friend that is your AirB&B host, is valuable.
Our adventure through Florence with kids was wonderful. We learned, we laughed, we ate well. Traveling with children throughout Europe has been a wonderful adventure, one that everyone should experience at least one
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Photo Credit: Lydia Bradbury, Pixabay