Family tours to Italy
A family affair: Taking the kids to Italy
• What is family travel in Italy like?
• Family travel resources
• Family tours of Italy
• Italy family travel books
Bookending the teenage years, the author (aged 13) and his favorite uncle (aged 19) camping in the Italian Dolomites. Not pictured: the parents/aunt and uncle who manged to put up with these two for the summer. (Hi, Mom and Dad!)Yes, you can take the kids! Trips to Italy can often have a much more profound impact on the children than the adults, opening their young eyes and minds to the diversity of the world's cultures and peoples.
I mean, look at me: my parents took me to live in Rome when I was 11, and now I make my living by traveling around the world.
Italians expect to see families together, because it's how they travel. You're likely to encounter entire clans, from grandmothers to babes in arms, caravanning around. Italians tend to love kids. You'll often find that a child guarantees you an even warmer reception from hotels and restaurants than you'd normally receive.
Most Italians will coo over an infant or toddler, and an adolescent or teenager struggling to order her meal in the local lingo will receive loads of encouragement and attention.
(Honest. This is embarrassing, but, as a 12-year-old living in Italy, I was often responsible for garnering my family extra attention at restaurants, whether it was the owner deciding to oversee our meal personally or a free round of grappa at the end of the meal; they just thought it was so darn cute that this little American kid could speak some rudimentary Italian. It's a wonder I haven't needed therapy.)
Ask waiters for a mezza porzione (MET-zah port-zee-OH-nay; half-portion) to fit junior's appetite.
If you absolutely feel the need for a romantic dinner alone one night, your hotel can undoubtedly rustle up a baby-sitter for you.
Be prepared to take things a bit more slowly. Don't go into full-bore sightseeing mode. In between heavy-duty cultural sights, do some stuff just for fun—which is actually good advice for any traveler, regardless of whether he or she has kids in tow.
Save on train rides!
Kids under four ride for free on all Italian trains.
Children between 4 and 12 ride for 50% off. The cut-off date is the day after one's birthday.As an added plus, traveling with a pint-sized person usually entails pint-sized rates. An extra cot in the hotel room ranges from free to, at most, 30% tacked onto the room rate.
Most museums and sights offer reduced-price or free admission for children under a certain age (which might range anywhere from six to 18, but usually the latter).
Family Travel Network (www.familytravelnetwork.com)
Family Travel Forum (www.familytravelforum.com)
Family Vacation Critic (www.familyvacationcritic.com)
Single Parent Travel (www.singleparenttravel.net)
VacationKids (www.vacationkids.com) - As a travel agency,
deals almost exclusively with Mexico and the Caribbean, but it also
has a "Travel School" section loaded with scads of general
tips for families that apply for travel anywhere.
Destinations: Rome, Florence, Venice
Select Italy's Amazing Family Tours are a bonding experience for the whole family, with a pizza-making class in Rome, mask-making workshop in Venice, museum tickets, walkign tours, and more. We have created them by teaming up with Alphabet Kids, the go-to source for multicultural educational activities and adventures. The trip starts in Venice, and when you arrive a gondola ride will introduce you to the city's canals and to mesmerizing views of its ancient palazzo. The following day, explore Venice with a private guide in...
- Included activities: Private Arrival Transfer, Full-Day Family Friendly Private Walking Tour (Venice), Private Gondola Ride (Venice), hands-on mask making workshop (Venice), Half-Day Family Friendly Private Walking Tour (Florence), Reservations and Tickets to the Accademia Gallery (Florence), Hands-on cooking class (Florence), Half-Day Family Friendly Private Walking Tour (Rome), Reservations and Tickets to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums, pizza making class (Rome), Private Departure Transfer
- Accommodation: Family Suite at Locanda al Leon, Venice, Family Sutie at Hotel Relais Uffizi, Florence (2 nts), Quad room at Hotel Fontanella Borghese, Rome (2 nts)
- Meals: 2 lunches (part of cooking classes)
- Transport: Train, Private car
- Group size: Private
Destinations: Naples, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, Amalfi, Ravello, Furore
Eager to expose the kids to Italian cuisine that doesn’t come in a cardboard box in 30 minutes or less? Take ‘em to the Amalfi Coast. Long a secluded hideaway for adults, the Coast has the most for the younger set as well. Based in smaller towns amidst truly breathtaking scenery, there's a huge variety of activities for your family. Try a delicious cooking class, see the ruins of the doomed city of Pompeii, hike the hills of Tre Calli, explore Capri and more, all in a breezy and affordable seven days. This is pizza’s ancestral home, after all. Deliver yourself to its doorstep. ...
- Included activities: Guied daytrip to Pompeii; lodging in family agriturismo/farmstay, short day hikes on the Amalfi Coast
- Accommodation: Agriturismo/farmstay (7 nts)
- Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 dinner; budget €150-200 for other meals
- Transport: Local transport, walking, ferry
- Group size: Max 20, avg 12
Destinations: Naples, Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento, Capri,
Visit the atmospheric Roman ruins of Herculaneum and of Pompeii preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Explore Naples, the home of Pizza and relax in Sorrento, surrounded by lemon trees and Olive groves. Take a day trip to Capri and discover the Blue Grotto in a small boat. Climb the infamous Mt Vesuvius. Explore the Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Make pizza and pasta with the help of Italian chefs...
- Included activities: Blue Grotto, Herculaneum Ruins, Old Pompeii entrance
- Accommodation: Hotel (7 nts)
- Meals: 7 breakfasts, 2 dinners; budget €250 for other meals
- Transport: Bus, Train, Ferry
- Group size: Min 5
Destinations: Pisa, Lucignano, Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza, Borgo Vignoni, Florence, Assisi, Cortona
Immerse the family in the cultural charms of one of Italy’s most famous regions for a holiday that’s as enjoyable as it is educational. Explore the treasure-trove of historic art cities, with awe-inspiring architecture at every corner. Delve deep into underground wine cellars, tuck into Tuscany’s famous dishes and learn how to make pasta in an authentic cooking class. Unwind in hot springs or by the apartment pool to ensure all the family return home relaxed after a fantastic family break...
- Included activities: Cooking class with dinner, Day trip to Assisi and Cortona, Day trip to Montepulciano, Pienza Bagno Vignoni, Florence Day trip including orientation walk and food market, Siena Day tour
- Accommodation: Private apartment (7 nts)
- Meals: 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners; budget €220 for other meals
- Transport: Private Bus
- Group size: Max 16
Intrepid Travel (www.intrepidtravel.com) - This fantastic Australian company marries an independent travel style (staying in cheap guesthouses, traveling by public transport) with the expertise of truly knowledgeable guides and a focus on cultural experiences. Intrepid has a larger than usual commitment to sustainable tourism, and travels in tiny groups, often limited to 8-12. It currently offers two family-themed Italy trips—Around the Bay of Naples and Treasures of Tuscany—both detailed above.
InfoHub.com (www.infohub.com) - Hundreds of family tours and travel opportunities from dozens of different operators.
Rascals in Paradise (www.rascalsinparadise.com) - Essentially a private tour for your family on a set 14-day Italian itinerary, with private cars and drivers and guides everywhere you go. Itinerary can be customized.
Smithsonian Journeys (smithsonianjourneys.org) - The Smithsonian run highly regarded, rather expensive educational and adventure trips specifically designed for the whole clan. No Italy programs currently in its "Family" section, but check back.
Grandtravel (www.grandtravel.com) - Tours designed to bridge the generations of the family, aimed specifically at grandparents and grand kids traveling together (the parental generation in between is not allowed—they might get in the way of all that unconditional grandparental love; however, aunts, uncles, and close family friends are welcome as grandparent substitutes). I love how the website, in the "For Grandparents" section, explains such things as texting and Twitter to prepare the older generation to interact with their grand kids. A couple of summer Italy trips on tap.
Italy with Kids (2006) - An indispensable resource for family travel to Italy. Featured destinations are Rome, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Siena, hill towns of Tuscany, Naples and Amalfi Coast, Milan and Lake Region. Everything is written from the parents' perspective: are the hotels family-friendly? Which restaurants are appropriate for kids? How do you say "I need a babysitter tonight?" What are the best gelato shops in each city and town? What books should my kids read before we leave? 'Fun Facts' sidebars are sprinkled throughout for the kids to ponder, and great activities are planned with the kids (and parents too!) especially in mind...
Rome with Kids (2007) - Scrambling around ruins; exploring underground excavations; searching for gladiators, secret passageways, and creepy skeletons; feasting on pizza and gelato-Rome with kids is a dream. Revel in the glory of Roman Civilization without hearing "I'm bored!" as an insider guides you through Rome with field-tested tours that tell you what to see and how to see it with children. Former Rome resident, J. M. Pasquesi, has been visiting and living in the Eternal City with her own children for over a decade. With a background in travel editing and classical studies, she shares her insider's know-how and passion for Rome to make a trip you and your children will treasure...
Other books on family travelTake Your Kids to Europe, How to Travel Safely (and Sanely) in Europe With your Children by Cynthia Harriman (2003)
Lonely Planet's Travel with Children by Cathy Lanigan (2002)
Adventuring With Children by Nan Jeffrey (1996)
Travel Wise with Children: 101 Educational Travel Tips for Families by Mary Rodgers Bundren (2004)
Fodor's FYI: Travel with Your Baby: Experts Share Their Secrets Ed. by Fodor's (2001)
Travelers' Tales Family Travel: The Farther You Go, the Closer You Get Ed. by Laura Manske (1999)
Gutsy Mamas: Travel Tips and Wisdom for Mothers on the Road by Marybeth Bond (1997)
Safe and Sound: Healthy Travel with Children by Marlene Coleman (2003)
- Tours FAQ (what questions to ask, are tours right for you, etc.)
- Vacation packages (air-hotel, air-car, untours)
- Escorted group tours
- Active vacations (bike, hike, horse)
- Educational tours (cooking, language, art/history/cultural, study)
- Special interest & niche tours (seniors, student, women, gay/lesbian, religious, handicapped, singles)
- Design your own group tour
- Private guides
This material was last updated February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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