Where Would You Travel in Italy?

Family Summer Travel in Italy

We’ve been brainstorming a family vacation this summer and are daydreaming about going to Italy. I’m so excited about the possibility!

We’d love to figure out an itinerary that would be good with two little rascals in tow. So far, we’ve been imagining three parts: flying into Rome (Anton is fully obsessed with Romans and the Colosseum) and then driving to Tuscany for a few days, and then visiting a friend who lives in Venice. But we’re flexible and could change all that!

I wanted to ask: Have you been to Italy, either with or without kids? Where did you like staying? Do you have any recommendations? We went to Positano for our honeymoon and adored it, but I’m not sure about those stairs with three-year-old Anton, who still asks to be carried :) Thank you so much for any advice.

P.S. I once read that parents are happiest when their kids are between 6 and 12. But I have to say, almost 4 and 7 is really good. The boys are chatty, a little more independent and can CARRY THEIR OWN BAGS.
P.P.S. Would anyone in Italy like to meet up? :)

(Photo by Antonio Arena.)

  1. I would definitely go to Sicily. I loved the eastern coast: Catania, Etna, Taormina and Syracuse. So beautiful!

  2. The Coliseum is my favourite place in Italy. It is such a beautiful attraction in Italy.

  3. anton is right, the coliseum is very impressive and if you go to roma it is impossible not to see it :-)

  4. Italy is the most enthralling country in the Entire Europe with many attractions. Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city seems like surreal location, I felt that how human beings could do this? Marvelous structures and awe-inspiring sights. Visit the spectacular Colosseum, the ruins of Palatino, Vatican Museums and many attractions to see on a Rome Holiday.
    I have been to Italy when I was very young with my parents, I assure great memories and learning on an Italy Holiday.

  5. I live in Italy (I’m an expat) and I have to say it is an extremely beautiful country!!
    Probably you’d love a “classic” Italy tour including Florence, Rome, Pompei… but I feel like suggesting some places as Trentino/Alto Adige, where you’ll find the most amazing mountains in the world: The Dolomites!
    I highly recommend Val di Fassa in Trentino but also Alto Adige has lovely places and towns as Merano. All the zone is famous for their caring about children and amenities. There are hundreds of hidden lakes between the mountains.
    Otherwise head to an island. Sardinia is super and you and your kids will love it. We have been in the Orosei coast and is lovely.
    The Eolian Islands are also a hidden paradise.
    Italy is SUPER HOT during summer. Stay near the water: sea or lakes.

  6. Ciao! I just returned from two magical weeks in Italy. If you’re considering Tuscany, I’d recommend the Piedmont region. It’s less crowded and home to amazing slow food and wine country. Lots of castles for the boys too :) We also loved Genoa! It’s a coastal city with twisty old streets and surprises, but less tourists. They have a huge aquarium, an old ship you can tour, and a children’s musuem as well. Also Italy’s best focaccia and pesto!

  7. It seems you must move to Italy for almost one year..ah ah.
    Well I live in Emilia Romagna. I can give you advice about this region, just ask. You are welcome.

  8. We lived in Genoa when my son was 3. We traveled quite a bit while we were there; everything is so accessible by train. There are so many great choices but I would definitely recommend somewhere near the Amalfi coast, Tuscany, Rome (though it will be hot). I wrote a blog about our travels if you’d like to read it. It also includes travel to the Netherlands, London, and Germany but the bulk of our travels were just in Italy.

  9. Italy is really a nice place to visit as it is known for its architecture from ancient days. Hope you had a great travel in Italy with your family.

  10. Lee says...

    My husband and I just returned from a two week trip to Italy. We are 30 and don’t have children, so we packed a lot in! We did Rome, Umbria/Tuscany, Florence, and Cinque Terre.

    I would recommend booking an agriturismo in Umbria or Tuscany. The website is Many agriturismos also have pools–perfect for families! We did half board which was great! We had breakfast and dinner at the agritourismo and could eat lunch out when we were exploring. If you are interested in Christian history, I would recommend Assisi. It is a neat hill town in Umbria.

    In Rome, I would recommend staying near the Colosseum. Your ticket covers the Colosseum and Palantine Hill, which could easily be two days of exploring with littles. I would also recommend taking a bike tour. Top Bike Rentals has some bikes with children’s seats. They give great tours and you are able to see a lot in a short amount of time.

    I also had someone recommend Ostica Antica, which is an ancient port near the airport. We didn’t have time to check it out, but it might be worth exploring!

    Have a great time!!!

  11. Madi says...

    Bassano del Grappa is an amazing town in the north, a few hours by train directly north of Venice. Right on the edge of the mountains and not over run with visitors. It was incredible to be there.

  12. MissyLemon says...

    We did Rome and surroundings with a 2 year old in spring and it was wonderfull.
    I have a list of places to stay and eat that are extremely kid friendly. Just let me know if you’d like our addresses and schedule (like book EVERYTHING in advance in Rome to avoid waiting lines in 40 degrees).
    Summer can be verry verrry hot. Certianly Tuscany. Look for a place with water, like a lake or river gor the boys.
    We love the Garda lake and surroundings (excellent food!) and it’s easy to go to Venice from there!
    Have fun!

  13. Florence, Florence, Florence! It was heaven compared to Rome. Rome is a must of course, but Florence has the architecture, the freshest food, the gelato (Leonardo’s!) and more. It changed my life!

  14. You will love sharing Italy with your boys! We spent 2.5 weeks there in the summer of 2015 when my son was 4. We set up base in an apartment in a Tuscan hilltown for almost two weeks, exploring the countryside and villages with a rental car, the dropped the car off and spent the last 4 days in Rome.

    Yes, it will be HOT, especially in the cities. We had a gem of a rental in Rome, a penthouse apartment with a private two-story terrace (amazing views!), a lift, and air conditioning. It was the perfect retreat from midday heat and crowds and I can’t recommend it enough! It is a small space, with things that fold out like on a boat, extra fun for the kids. If you haven’t booked a rental yet, check it out:

  15. Amanda says...

    I lived in Sicily for a few years as a teen. It’s an incredible island! You definitely need to stop in Catania and spend a day at the market and check out the beautiful church by the duomo (check out the elephant!). Mt Etna has some great sightseeing and hiking, when it’s not erupting. Fontana Bianca Beach is very nice. And the catacombs in Paterno are a must see! Agrigento is an ancient city and archaeological site that is incredible to see. Taormina is gorgeous as well, there’s an ancient theatre and other artifacts to check out. Syracuse is also home to an ancient theatre and cave called Dionysus’ Ear.

  16. M says...

    Italy is the BEST with kids!! It was our go-to vacation spot when we were growing up – they love children, the food is amazing, and so much history! We usually spent part of the time out in the country and rented a house (with a pool – a must!!) so we could just run around the gardens and cook big family meals after hitting up the local farmers markets. Have fun!!

  17. marie b says...

    Go to TRIESTE. Iconic cross-roads city in European history.

  18. Steph says...

    We just spent two weeks in Italy. My first tip would be not to try and cram too much in – especially in Summer and plan your day to allow for Pranzo in the shade. You can prebook entry to most things to avoid the queues which I am sure A&T would appreciate. Gelati is always a good idea.

    My fav area is Tuscany. Rent a car if you can, hire an air bnb and explore the regional towns and the chianti region is wonderful… lots of castles to run around and wine to sip. It’s not far from Rome so you could spend a week in Rome and then a week in Tuscany.

    I hope it is a wonderful trip. We are off to Paris for a few days now and I am following most of your blog tips – many thanks xox

  19. Vanessa says...

    I lived in Rome when I was Toby’s age, and my brother was 3 years younger. Here is what I remember as our absolute favorite things:
    1.) The Villa Borghese goes on forever and has so many things to discover. We would climb up from Piazza del Popolo to Parco Pincio (there is an amazing view here) and go see the water clock.
    2.) The Colosseum is incredible. Tunnels for lions! Gladiators!
    3.) Big car-free squares like Piazza Navona are great. The fountains have tons of interesting details that are cool to look at, and it’s totally fine/normal/encouraged to run around like crazy.
    4.) Climbing all the way to the top of St. Peter’s. You’re inside the walls of the dome! How cool is that!?
    5.) We loved getting a drink from Roman water fountains. You cover the end with your finger and the water shoots out in a perfect arc. It’s clean and cold, and it’s a thrilling thing to know how to do.
    6.) Learning about Roman gods/goddesses and making togas out of bedsheets were always a fun home activity that helped us learn history.
    7.) A simple treasure hunt is to keep a lookout for the letters SPQR. It stands for a Latin phrase that means “the Senate and People of Rome”, and it’s everywhere from monuments to manhole covers.

    When I returned to Rome as an adult, I discovered the following additional things:
    1.) It’s freaking hot. Pace yourselves. It’s okay to stop in a church for a moment of cool and to (quietly) get your bearings. It’s best to take a nap or have quiet time at home in the early afternoon.
    2.) As a corollary to #1, I love the Basilica of San Clemente. It’s a church built on top of a early Christian worship site built on top of a pagan temple. You can travel down through all of the layers. It’s fascinating, it’s a little off the beaten path, and it’s cold.
    3.) It’s okay to skip some of the tourist stuff, like Campo de Fiori, the Trevi Fountain, etc. There’s a lot to see, and honestly, the “less important” fountain/ruin/church can be just as interesting and impressive. Once you get into the historic center you’re practically tripping over monuments.
    4.) I hate the Roman Forum. I hated it as a kid, and I hated it as an adult. Not a scrap of shade, crowded, and requires a lot of imagination to fill in the gaps.
    5.) Make sure not to visit during Ferragosto, the last two weeks in August. Almost everything in Rome shuts down and everyone goes on vacation.

    As a parent who has survived two trips to France with toddlers, my lightbulb moment was using the confusion of jetlag to put our kids on a “vacation schedule”, which was to go to sleep later and wake up later. It worked like a dream. Both France and Italy tend to have window shades that will make the room pitch dark, which helps.

    That’s the end of this novella. I didn’t even get into Venice. Summer is pretty terrible there, but if you are staying with someone you might be able to avoid the crowds. Splurge on the gondola ride, I still remember it.

  20. Erica says...

    Hi there from Siena! Excellent choice! Even as an Italian living here it’s hard to sometimes decide where you would like to go for your next long weekend! So many choices with such variety!
    Recently I explored the beautiful Piedmont region (even though the best time to visit would be fall, truffle season), the region has an incredibly beautiful mountain and hilly landscape (wine country, lovely towns and medieval castles, old farmhouses). It’s a very elegant region, incredible wines and food, less touristic than other regions, including the regions capital, Turin.
    Nearby there is Italy’s northern lake district (Como, Maggiore), also incredibly beautiful and relaxing, wonderful hikes and local towns and perfect for summer time.
    Naturally Tuscany is always a good idea for relaxed summer days, small town festivals, simple genuine food and wonderful wines. Siena is a great sized city to stay and enjoy and take day trips from. Val d’Orcia region! The beautiful laid back all natural coast of Mount Argentario (Porto Ercole, Santo Stefano)! with day trips (by boat?) to the islands of Giglio, Elba, Giannutri. The Maremma region with amazing landscapes, chianina cows and incredible giant ravioli! Also if you happen to be in Siena in the days preceeding the Palio (July 2nd and August 16th), it’s really quite special.
    Also, if you’ve never been to Sicily, it is one of the most magical and enchanting places I’ve ever been to. The most amazing art, food, culture, history that this country has to offer and so so much beauty. I may be biased but I’m not the only one, it’s quite moving. I’ve only been to the South eastern part for a couple of weeks (Syracuse, Noto, Marzamemi, Modica, Ragusa..) but I’ll never forget it and plan to go back and visit the rest of the beautiful Island as soon as I get the chance.
    Happy to help for any other advice or specifics..

  21. Joanna hi,
    We have been going to Tuscany 3 years in a row now: with a belly, then with a 8-month old, then with a 18-month old (the same child).
    Many of the towns and villages are OK for families with strollers, though some are easier: Pienza & Montepulciano.
    Some are a bit trickier: Cortona, Montalcino, Siena.
    My wife and I have posted a lot of photos from multiple locations in Tuscany, you can see some of them on my blog.

    My advice would be to try and hit the smaller villages, go for excursions: wineries, agriturismos, olive oil mills (oliviera).

    All 3 years we’ve been staying at Siena House (, a lovely 4-room “not-a-hotel” type of place which has a fantastic location for explorers: everything is reachable, yet you get that charming Italian countryside. Could get a bit pricey and tricky to find an available room, but if you do – you’re in luck.

    Have fun on your trip!

  22. Sandy S says...

    Our family of 5 just returned from a 2 week trip (only 1 short week in Italy b/c 2 of my now 3 young adult children returned to work and school; 2d week in Paris). I’m happy to share the detailed itinerary. We traveled by train from Rome to Florence to Venice to Milan….. and saw everything!! S

  23. Elizabeth Spence says...

    I went with my family as a kid in 1998. I loved Venice and looking at the tiny glass creations in the shop windows and walking over little bridges. I loved visiting Ostia outside Rome (great for lovers of Roman things), and Florence was my favourite. It was just… beautiful. Eating pizza and pasta all the time was also awesome

  24. Julia says...

    I would not go to Venice with kids. Lots of walking up and down bridges and stairs and winding streets. And there are no cars so if you needed to get home quick you need to be prepared for a long trek and/or boat ride home. AMAZING for a romantic trip or one with friends or solo but it might be tough on little ones. I just had a lovely time in Bologna. The food is amazing and its a little less touristy than other Italian cities. Highly recommend the Anatomy Theatre in the old university. Also a tip: if you ride business class on most trains (not too much more expensive than an economy seat) they give you coloring books and colored pencils for the kids, and cute little snack packs (and free sparkling wine or coffee for the adults :)

  25. Sarah says...

    Got back today from our honeymoon in Italy, spent the whole week at Siena House in Tuscany. Highly recommend it. Warm, funky, convenient, and very child friendly, with a laid back couple for hosts and a resident two-year-old, too

  26. mona says...

    Funny timing. I just got back from Italy today! (with my husband and soon-to-be four year old). We were there for a family wedding (destination wedding) and made an 8-day trip out of it. We were just outside of rome (fuimincino) on the beach for 2 days, Borgo di tragliata for 3 days and Rome for 3 days. It was 30 C every day now in may… I cant imagine going mid-summer when the temps creep up even higher. Beach days were fun. Lazy days by the pool and lunches and dinners out in the country side were lovely. Rome was great… so much to see. It’s a bit over whelming for a 4 year old… but if you take lots of breaks and don’t jam pack your days it’s lots of fun. Lots of tourists and lots of security (military and police out and about). I would avoid things like the Vatican with small children. We did it without our 3 year old and cant imagine having her with us. Colosseum was great (you don’t need to do it with a guide). We liked the hope on-hop off bus. We could sit up top and just drive around not getting off at stops if our little one was tired and needed to sit. We would have loved to have visited venice, or pompei og the almfi coast… but not enough time or money for that in this trip :) Enjoy planning! looking forward to reading about your trip

  27. Bettina says...

    I went to Cortona for a week last fall. Loved it but by far the best part was a day trip to Bomarzo. There is a great garden with hundreds of unusual sculptures. A great place for kids to run around and explore ( Also very close by are natural hot springs (Terme di Saturnia). There is a spa there but there is also a free hot springs just down the road. There was also a pizza vending machine there!

  28. Italy is a country that I could return to over and over again… The both times that I was there no kids were involved. I especially adore sardinia, it’s a more relaxing part of italy so perhaps you guys could explore that option.

  29. Franziska says...

    I grew up going in vacation in the Italian Alps – the lakes there are great for kids to swim in and play around!

  30. anna says...

    I highly recommend to visit my home town, Genova.
    Located on the sea with mountains nearby is just perfect for a family holidays. There are plenty of things to do for kids, like a visit at the Aquarium or the Sea Museum. If not in the mood for museum you can just visit one of the nice beach nearby the city centre. In case you want to take a train the Cinque Terre are easy to visit and the same for the lovely small coastal city such Camogli, Rapallo o Santa Margherita. For a romantic day Portofino is the location. The city centre has beautiful shops, museum and stroll by the water. Profumo was the best ice cream shop in Italy and focaccia will make your kids scram! while you try pasta al pesto! It is a safe, cultural and historic place.

    • Alessandra Innocenti says...

      joanna call me or message me before you come to florence my cell is 3487822358
      i would like to take you to my favorite ice-cream place

  31. Diana says...

    I lived in Naples for 2 years when my kids were between the ages of 0-3 and we traveled everywhere with them (mostly road trips). I love Rome and Florence, but I agree with skipping Venice. Some people have mentioned Pompeii, but the smaller Ercolano site is more manageable with small kids and actually more interesting. I also found that sometimes the smaller, less touristy places were more charming. Definitely don’t go in August – too hot, many places close for the whole month. If you can swing a September trip, that’s a better option. Good luck – I can’t wait to see what you decide.

  32. Calliope says...

    We go to Italy regularly (we live next door, Greece!) and I consider it pure heaven on earth. Everywhere! So, this July we’re doing a road trip with our son. FYI, August prices were almost twice up so July it was.
    My son had loved loved Rome last January (colosseum? Check. Gelato? Check. Pizza every day? Check. Huuuuge piazzas to run with fountains to play? Check check.) Since we’ve been almost everywhere before, we wanted this trip to be memorable for him so we decided on northen Italy. Milan, Como, Garda (there is a really nice disney like park there, Gardaland, that we’ll visit), Verona (he’s juliette’s father in the school play), Venice, Ferrara, Florence, Sienna and lots in Toscany and finally Piza, Lucca and the Cinque Terre. I’ve booked airbnbs everywhere and the one in Toscany is an Agriturismo Farm with animals, vines, ping pong table etc
    It’s a lot for 10 days but I think pizza and chianti will take us through!
    Whatever you do make sure to stop and play A LOT, stay inside for siestas because the sun is crazy hot down here and feel relaxed!

  33. We loved Pompeii, Venice, Elba. Rome, Sicily, Florence, and Pisa. What is not to love about the whole freaking country.

  34. Martha says...

    Just be aware that if you’re not on the coast, it is SUPER SUPER hot in the summer. I went to Rome and Florence with my aunt over the last couple weeks in July and in Florence after we climbed the Duomo we broke down and went to McDonald’s for Diet Cokes because it was the only place we could find ice. We so desperately did not want to be the lame Americans at McDonalds but we were just. so. hot.

    We finally figured out the trick is to do museums in the middle of the day when it’s too hot to be outside comfortably and do your city walking in the morning and the evenings. Also lots of gelato.

  35. Tricia says...

    I went to Rome totally by myself a few years ago and stayed in a hostel. I had barely 48 hours, so I only hit the big highlights. Since I like history I did a lot of walking tours (you can find a lot of free ones). I also downloaded the app for Rick Steve’s guidebook and the audio tours so that as I end tplaces I could listen to him in my headphones and it was like having a personal guide.
    I also have friends who went recently and booked all their accomodations on Airbnb or similar sites and had a really great experience.

  36. Milla says...

    When I was younger my grandfather took us on a trip to Rome and Pompei. I had always heard about Pompei growing up and I have to say I LOVED it, much more than Rome. We stayed at an adorable, family friendly place called B&B Elena, and the town was so small and welcoming . Not too many people stay there for more than a day, so staying for a few was a nice experience.

  37. We went to Italy in October and had the best luck with lines and availability. We went to Rome, Florence, Sienna, and Venice. It’s really hard to pick a favorite. I would go back in a heartbeat. The biggest line that we encountered was in Florence and it was to see The David. We used the Rick Steve’s guidebook which was great! They had a great recommendation for a wine shop in Venice and a perfect dinner recommendation for Florence. We liked it so much we went back twice.

    I will search through my book and see if I can find the names.

    My one big regret in Italy other than not enough time, was that we never made it to the Cinque Terre.

    Have fun!

  38. Kirstin says...

    Hi, my husband, son (aged 6 at the time) and I went to Italy for two months last year – Italian summertime. We stayed in Rome for one month, renting an apartment in Trestevere through air bnb. Then we flew to Sardegna for a month – and that was amazing – relaxing beautiful the food is all grown or produced locally, we rode bids, swam, took boats to little beaches. I spend my whole life wanted to be back there! We stayed in Alghero in Sardegna.

  39. lisa says...

    Italy is a great destination. Stay in apartments and pretend to be a local. Rome is lovely (and Venice spectacular), but the crowds can be a bit much, so don’t be afraid to look at the “second tier” cities, eg Bologna, Verona, Firenze. They are truly spectacular.

    But the *best* advice: use the trains!!!!!! Driving and parking in the cities is a nightmare, expensive, and simply unnecessary. Plan your trip based on the regional train network. Then if you want to explore a smaller region by car, hire a car just for those few days.

    You will have fun regardless.

    Also: caprice salad. omg.

  40. Katie...again says...

    Can’t believe I forgot this – but a late night champagne or Sunday brunch at Salotto 42 in Rome is great. I think it’s sort of a big deal place now, but years ago, it was pretty quiet & the bougainvillea alone is worth a few moments of basking. If you go late on a hot night, it’s nice to stand outside & feel the air & take the strollers in. I’m really pumped for you guys & this trip – it’s gonna be so fun. Plus, from what you’ve shared, I think your oldest will LOVE how dressed up & chic most Italians are – even in rural areas, you’ll see men in suits and women in heels on the reg. So maybe he needs a linen dinner jacket before you go? ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha yes to italian fashion! toby will be in heaven. maybe i should get him a linen jacket as a late birthday present ;)

  41. We went to Italy when our boys were 2 and 4. We spent a few days in Florence, which was lovely and beautiful. (Seeing gorgeous ‘David’ in all his glory, through the eyes of a 2-year-old, is an experience I will never forget.) And then we spent 5-6 days in Tuscany. We stayed in a house with a pool and ventured out to various towns each day. Overall, it was lovely, but if I could do it again, I might not choose Tuscany. Driving through those Tuscan hills in a van full (we were with my sister and her 3-year-old as well) made for some queasy stomachs, especially since it was a bazillion degrees in August. And to your point, lots of tired little legs that needed carrying. I think sticking to a couple cities or a city/beach or pool combo would be the way to go. Have fun dreaming and planning!

  42. Alli says...

    We’re thinking of a trip to Italy with a young child as well – how do you plan to deal with the time change? I’m nervous about how long it will take our daughter to adjust considering that daylight savings time throws us off for at least a week!

  43. I traveled to Finale Ligure with my husband’s family last September. It’s about an hour’s drive from Nice, (and I would have quickly hopped West to visit France if it had been up to me). Still, Finale Ligure is a beautiful spot with the most lovely, clear water I have had the pleasure of swimming in. The town definitely knows it is a popular tourist spot, but the surrounding area is really gorgeous. It definitely reminds me of California with its warm, hazy air and rolling hills that were colourful and lush.

  44. joanna ference says...

    All the above suggestions are fabulous as well. I would add Sorrento. It’s beautiful and on the coast. A day trip to the island of Capri is so nice! But it’s also nearby to Pompeii which was why we ventured there. Rome is a no-brainer. I also loved Venice, but not sure how it would be with little ones, it’s not the easiest city to get around – but definitely a different change of pace with the water taxis!

  45. Lindsay says...

    I’m headed to Rome and Tuscany with my husband and 2 year old in a week, and can’t wait. We discovered the Maremma region of Southern Tuscany on our honeymoon three years ago, and I couldn’t wait to go back once I had kids. There are beautiful sandy beaches in this area of Tuscany, and I didn’t run into any Americans for our 4 days there – a welcome change of pace from the touristy regions of Amalfi, Venice, Florence on the rest of our trip, but we didn’t have trouble communicating at all. So this time, we’re going back and staying at this agriturismo (, which is a half hour or so driving distance both from the beach and from the hill towns so we can have the best of what Tuscany has to offer. Then we’re staying 3 nights in Rome in this Kid and Coe apt:

    I can’t say yet how this will go with a 2 year old in tow, but I’m so encouraged by all the comments above. And I couldn’t recommend the Maremma region enough if you’re looking to get a beach vacation into this with the boys. A lot of the beaches have hotels / snack bars so you can have lunch right there on the water, and the Mediterranean is so gentle, it should be great for kids to splash safely in the surf. And the town of Castiglione della Pescaia is a beautiful hill town right on the water which is lovely to walk around and get your daily dose of gelato.

    Have a great trip!

    • Lindsay says...

      Actually, make that the Tyrrhenian Sea. : )

  46. Kate Ashburner says...

    We have taken our two kids to Italy three times, each time in summer, most recently aged 5 and 3. We avoided the more touristy cities given that summer can get pretty crazy in Italy with tourists. The kids especially liked Verona (big Roman ruins to pique kids’ imaginations, manageably-sized and interesting art galleries, gardens with hedge-like mazes, beautiful squares to dine in while the kids hooned around in the square in front of us without disturbing anyone, day trip to lake Garda), Ferrara (large city walls to picnic on, a castle in the city centre with a moat, a fascinating history and no foreign tourists to speak of (total bliss! The kids got so much lovely attention from the locals!)), Parma (OMG, the food! Plus there was a great park with cool pedal cars for hire for the kids to explore). We went in June/ July. We hired cars whilst there to allow for spontaneous day trips to surrounding areas. Take your own sat nav if driving – this was invaluable!! We found that the key thing with kids is to select a good base city and then do day trips from there. We would always scout out the local parks and be happy to spend a few hours just letting them play when needed. Enjoy! You can’t really go too wrong in Italy, wherever you go, its the best!

  47. Lake Como!! When I was there I was pregnant, but I had no kids. Bellagio is such a charming little town right on the lake, with amazing food, beautiful little lake-side spots to hang out and have a picnic, plenty of boat rides to excite the kiddos. We loved it there! We also stayed in Magreglio, which is a bit back from the lake. We had the most AMAZING meal at this tiny little family-owned polenta place in the mountains. You actually park your car in the forest at the bottom, and take a 20 minute walk up the mountain to get to the restaurant! (Helped us earn our polenta ;)

  48. Calia says...

    Naples! Where pizza was invented! It also feels a lot less touristy than Rome. Then make a short train ride from Naples to visit Pompeii.

  49. Cristina says...

    We stayed at Lupaia in montepulciano with our son and I cannot say enough wonderful things about it! We also got a beautiful Airbnb in Florence, but it was only one bedroom so probably not big enough for your family.

  50. I’d suggest Lago di Garda.
    For sure you can find budget friendly appartment.
    I even prefer this vs hotel as you have the possibility to buy and prepare the awesome foods from local markets.
    We have been to Moniga so many times and it is adorable for children plus you have plenty of cultural and natural spots to visit.
    cheers from Germany

  51. pam bitting says...

    I’m going to Tuscany with husband and 6 year old son in July! I’m meeting my very first and best friend and her family there. I used to live in Carroll Gardens and miss it terribly! I enjoy reading your bog and getting updates about my old neighborhood. I’m taking notes on all the great tips in the comments! Would love to meet you in Italy!

  52. We did this with my 2 year old a few years ago and it was the best!! The great thing about Italy is that so many of the sights are not in museums where kids go crazy and off the walls. My then 2 year old was a bundle of energy and always needed to move. The colisseum was great, Piazza Navona, and just walking all over town and eating everywhere. In Rome, have the kids figure out how to make the water spouts that are all over the city into drinking fountains. My 2 year old ended up teaching other tourists, it was cool. Check out Pompeii and Herculaneum as well. Both outdoor sights that my 2 year old did not get bored in. He just explored along with us.
    We drove from Lake Como through Tuscany and stayed in Tuscany for about a week. It was wonderful having a car and checking out all the little towns. Super with kids. Just stay at any Airbnb that looks good. Lake Como is great for kids as well cause of the boat rides from cute town to cute town. Italy is a fantastic place to vacation with children.
    Always carry a few snacks and make sure you eat well before transitioning. Those are the 2 major rules. 3rd rule, gelato every day!

  53. Claire says...

    I loved Florence! Art! Steak! Stayed there and took day trips to Pisa and Bologna (best, cheap food in this lovely college town).

  54. Natalie says...

    I’m so excited you’re doing this so I can read about it! My kids will be 3 and 4 this summer but we’re planning to go in 2 years for my husband’s 40th (when they’re 5 and 6)! Now I can cheat with your tips… but sorry I don’t have any to offer. I studied abroad in Florence in college but I was a different human before these mini humans so I imagine my goals for the trip will be much different this time!

  55. Heidi says...

    Borgo Argenina in Chianti is amazing. The host is wonderful and you can rent your own villa for the family. She offers cooking classes right In her own kitchen. You open the windows and It’s like a dream.

  56. Sophie Holmes says...

    If you can make it to Florence, the Museo Galileo is amazing for kids and grown-ups alike.

    They have interactive and non-interactive exhibits that inspire creativity and scientific thinking…it was probably this museum that got me interested in Engineering at a young age!

  57. Kaitlin says...

    YES! Spend a few days in Rome then spend the rest of the time in Tuscany. I stayed in San Gimignano and it was AMAZING and a great location to travel to other Tuscan cities. You must eat here: Food/wine are amazing and the view is better! The piazza in SG is also perfect for strolling and sitting while the kids run around and eat gelato.

  58. Amy says...

    I just spent 2 weeks in Italy- one in Rome & the other in Praiano to explore the Amalfi Coast. Loved both locations! Can I recommend, if you do spend time in Rome, that you find a place in the historic part of the city? We were able to walk to a lot of the major sites and it was so nice not to have to worry about transportation at all! We stayed at Cancellaria Dieci guest house, great breakfast place next door (Est Est Est), wonderful restaurants within walking distance. Highly recommend Ponte & Parione restaurant just off the Piazza Navona. And the gelato shops were plentiful. We had a great time wandering around, mostly lost, but it didn’t matter since you always (somehow) ended up back by the Piazza to re-orient yourself.

    Praiano was also amazing, but it sounds like you already know about this region, having visited Positano previously. I would happily return here anytime!

  59. Elenor says...

    We are traveling to Croatia via Venice this summer and we can’t wait. We are going “off the radar” in Croatia with some time in the north (Istria Region) that supposedly rivals Tuscany and then an Island visit. The prices are great, so two families can share amazing homes with pools or village locations. We know Venice will be crowded when we stroll through en route to our ferry to Croatia, but I think my kids (11 yr old boy and 13 yr old girl) will love checking it out. As for favorite ages — we are still loving this stage as our kids are flexible, active, getting into history, and still enjoy spending time with us. We’ll be passing through Venice twice, so I will keep my eyes out for your family.

  60. Naomi P. says...

    We’re going to Italy this summer for two weeks, with a 6 year old. Cinque Terre, Florence, Sicily and Rome. I’d be happy to share our specific plans and places we’re staying at… all child-friendly and budget-friendly. I’ve done a ton of my own research, my mom in Sicily and her best friend in Florence provided the remaining details.

    And I’d love to meet up! I’m friends with your sister. If you’re interested in more info – email me. :)

    One free tip to everyone: if traveling with kids in Europe – ALWAYS tell the hotel upon booking the exact number of people sleeping in the room. It’s expected and they often charge by the person – not by the room. In the US, I book a room… and we show up with two adults and a kid, and it’s the same price as if I were alone. In Europe (Italy especially), they can cancel your room as you’re standing at the registration desk to check in… or they increase the price of the room. You’d rather know that ahead of time.

    • anna says...

      I would love to know your Sicily recommendations if you don’t mind! We have been several times, have seen Taormina, Palermo, Catania, Agrigento, Caltabellotta, Sciacca, and a few other places. We are based near Agrigento (Cattolica-Eraclea) so if you have any recommendations for family with 4 year old or couple (we are leaving my son with my parents for a couples getaway) I would love to know! (Sorry to piggyback on this comment section.

    • Naomi P. says...

      Hi Anna,
      Unfortunately, this will be my first time in Sicily – so I don’t have too many suggestions. We are staying with my mom in Ortigia, which is an island off Syracuse. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, so its supposed to be beautiful, clean, and a great place to visit. It sounds like you probably know more about the area than I do! :) One recommendation I have is – if you plan to be at a beach, try to call ahead (or go online) to book the chair, umbrella combo, so you have your own dedicated space at the beach. I have also heard that Sicily has amazing ancient Greek amphitheaters and ruins. For me, this is a great opportunity to get a kids book on ancient Greece, that I will unveil on the plane on the way to Italy… I’m also putting together a folder where my daughter can collect postcards, maps, guide pamphlets etc from every place we visit.

    • anna says...

      Thanks so much! I think I just may visit Ortigia and Syracusa this year! Those plays do sound so great!!!!!!

  61. Tamara says...

    The best kept secret, especially with kids, is the east coast, specifically Le Marche area! So inexpensive, water and hillside towns, easy train ride from Rome…

  62. Becca says...

    We had a glorious trip last fall with our 2 year old! We hotel’d in Rome for 3 days, then airBnB apt in Cortona for one week, then back to a fantastic airbnb in Campo Di Fiori in Rome at the end. I really recommend a mix of big city and small town to keep things from being too frenetic.

    Italy is so kid friendly and fun. We discovered local playgrounds – at one, the big kids helped our little one down the slide in the shadow of Castel St’Angelo. We went to the zoo and on tons of walks. Our son also got very into playing soccer with some big kids in Cortona’s main square. Street performers are all over in Rome – Trastevere’s main square is particularly fun. Have a wonderful time, you will never forget it! Feel free to email with questions.

  63. Sally says...

    Assisi is the best. Walled hilltop town. The best view down and there’s one Main Street and sloped mostly, no steps. It was the best!!!

  64. Meg says...

    We travelled to Italy last year with our 7 year old. We flew into Rome and splurged on a private, kid focused, tour of the Colosseum and it was absolutely the best money we have ever spent on a vacation. We also did some other ruins and just a ton of walking around and eating pizza and gelato. We were in Italy when our son was 3 as well and he loved it both times. There is so much to see and take in that it is an amazing place for kids – and of course for adults too! Everything we did seemed very kid friendly – even it was just drinking red wine at a quiet outdoor table while he played in a piazza. I cannot say enough about Italy with kids! You should absolutely do it!!!!!

    • Melanie says...

      Can you tell me the name of Colosseum tour company?
      Thank you

  65. Laura says...

    What about Sicily? A huge volcano, the eolian islands, roman ruins, beautiful beaches, stunning cities, fantastic markets, natural parks, … I’m in love with this island! :)

  66. Emma says...

    Italy is marvellous and travelling with kids there is fine, everyone is nice and always tries to make you feel welcome. Your plan is pretty good, Rome, Florence and Venice are gorgeous of course and since they are pretty polular amongst americans, people over there are quite used to foreigners.
    Though there are other places in Italy not so well known ,but as much as beautiful as Rome, Florence, etc.
    Puglia has wonderful beaches, agriturismos and ancient city and lots of historical sites.
    Naples is amazing and near you can visit Pompeii, the Royal Palace of Caserta (similar to Versailles), Amalfi coast and other beautiful places.
    Sicily is silmpy stunning beyond word, full of art, history, traditions, a beautiful sea, delicious food.
    Other suggestions are lake of Como, Genova and Cinque Terre, Bologna and the whole region of Emilia-Romagna (the birthplace of lasagna and tortellini, just to say), the island od Sardinia…
    In this places maybe not everyone will speak English, but all of them will make a big effort to understand e be understood :)
    Unfortunatly, like said by others already, I woldn’t rely too much on public trasportation, buses (or metro in Rome) are fine if you want to visit a city and I would surely use the train to move from a big city to another, especially in the north, but if you want to go South, see al those villages in the coutryside (like Civita, San Gimignano, etc) or go the the beach I strongly suggest to rent a car, it’s less stressful and if you get lost you will surely find someone nice more than happy to help you :)
    You just decide wherever you want to go, you won’t regret it anyway !

  67. EW says...

    It’s all amazing, I don’t have kids, but it strikes me that it is incredibly kid friendly – all my nieces and nephews and their parents love it. Lynn above has completely nailed it though – pre book museums wherever you can, and while it’s spectacular, I would have thought the North was very touristy, and the sights quite museum- and church-heavy for young kids. I guess you are visiting friends and have an itinerary in mind, but for me, I would go south, from Rome to Naples and/or Sicily.
    I would go to Rome so you can all act like gladiators/citizens/short-lived poets and actually be in Rome in general – lean against the columns, walk the cobbles. Rome is so nice to wander around and just eat and just BE in, it’s a very special place. Your art fix is amazing as a lot of it is Baroque – those sculptures are very nearly alive. And, I mean, to eat Cacio e Pepe and do the passeggiata through the back streets of Trastevere of an evening is reason enough alone. There’s a fantastic deli near the Vatican called Franchi, which is great for recovering from all the Vatican gallery glitz, or just for picking up picnic items and snacks (arancini and amazing cheese and meats) to eat while you watch all the young starstruck nuns and priests.
    I am a fan of Naples. It’s lively, is about as clean as New York (!) has great people and fantastic street life, and has to-die-for pizza for about a fiver. It is the home of pizza. Which I would think any kid would be into. Pompeii and Herculaneum are nearby – Ercolano has intact streets and full houses and shutters, all doable easily on the Bay Area train. And of course it has a massive volcano brooding over all of it, which you can visit. For grown ups, Naples also has amazing shirt makers and tailors, which, if like me, you don’t have Dickie Greenleaf’s budget, are still amazing to visit and window shop. Ischia or Procida are less touristy than Capri or Amalfi. There are also beaches and lidos nearby the city itself which are easy to get to.
    And finally – the opposite end to your plans – I would (right now, if I could) go to Sicily. For kids, it has an actual erupting volcano, steaming volcanic islands coming out of the sea, several ampitheatres and temple sites like Agrigento, the Villa Romana del Casale (spectacular – starts off slow but wow), the beautiful Syracuse (Archimedes! And St. Lucy – who used to walk around holding her eyes on a plate!), and the gelato from Noto is incredible (where it’s from, supposedly). The Northwest peninsula of Sicily (Erice, Zingaro, San Vito lo Capo) is very beautiful – medieval clifftop towns, empty beaches and coves in a national park (good trails for short hikes), with beautiful sunsets and crystal clear water (I actually want to delete this now so no one goes here). San Vito itself is a large, clean, very family friendly beach with shallow turquoise water. We stayed in a family-run place that was the top T-Advisor pick – but it was well deserved, as it was spotless and included the lido chair/umbrella rental in the room charge, and the owners were very friendly and helpful.
    There are also more mainstream resorts/resort-ey towns in Sicily, near Cefalu or Taormina – if you two did want to just switch off completely for a few days and have a sort of more managed vacation instead. It’s a pretty amazing place all in all. We went early July and it was quiet enough, and did all that in about a week. You can get into Palermo or Catania or Trapani from the main cities for cheap-ish (~70 euro) on no frills airlines like Easyjet (which have bright orange planes! Just be aware it’s no frills – pay and print off everything beforehand).
    Also – if you didn’t want to drive between Rome and elsewhere, Italy has on time, red high speed trains now so it’s all a lot easier than a few years ago – Rome to Naples is just over an hour. To Milan, maybe three. Reserved seats are available on Trenitalia’s website, and I had no problem with them – maybe others have.

    Buon viaggio!
    (Look at all the long replies and ideas! How great is Italy?! I am now starving from thinking about the food.)

  68. Maria says...

    Rome is an amazing city. The whole city is like a big museum. Your senses get all busy at all times, at the same time. Too much history to see, touch, feel, smell, hear. I recommend taking a ‘Rome at Night’ tour. The night lights all over the city provide a different yet glorious perspective of the city.

  69. Alex says...

    Tuscany is wonderful! I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Florence both on vacation and studying. LOOOOOVE Florence. I think it would be great with kids – so much to see and do. The best art and the best food if you ask me. Montepulciano might also be good for a smaller town vibe for a night or two if you want to explore Tuscany. They make AMAZING wine and there are tons of wine tasting tours you can take. Also if you are thinking about going in August there is a barrel rolling race (and traditional costume parade) in the middle of town every year which i’m sure the boys would get a kick out of. Imagine big Italian med pushing giant barrels of wine up steep medieval cobblestone streets to the center square (wearing 80s style athletic gear and headbands)!

  70. t says...

    Are you thinking of going THIS summer? I am a bit of a planner but I always plan my trips 6 months to a year in advance so I can relish in the anticipation. Do you usually only plan a month or two in advance?

  71. Giulia says...

    Hi Joanna!
    My name is Giulia and I am from Italy: of course I would love to meet you! I have been reading your blog for ever and I love love love the post that comes out every Friday! I am a doctor and I have read Paul’s book to get more inspired!
    I don’t have kids yet so I am not sure about the suggestions, but I am sure you’ll love Tuscany. You should find an “agriturismo” with swimming pool, up in the hills and I am sure you’ll enjoy it. My favorite place ever is Cortona but as you said, I am not sure if Anton will enjoy it as well. Let me know if you need some help or information. I live up north in Milan but as I mentioned it before I would loooove to meet you: I could babysit for Anton and Toby when you and Alex enjoy a nice dinner out. Love from Italy. Giulia

    • meg says...

      Hi Giulia!
      I’m going to be in Cortona in October with my husband. Are there any specific recommendations you have? Thank you so much!

  72. Natalie T. says...

    There is a really great site called Italy Explained. Her article, How to Create the Perfect Italy Itinerary for Any Trip is really helpful.

    I went to Modena in 2006 (before it became semi-famous on Master of None 2!). It is a very chill town featuring balsamic vinegar and the Ferrari Factory! That may be a hit with the boys. :)

    Happy planning!

  73. Giulia says...

    Joanna, I would recommend the Val D’Orcia in Tuscany, or the Maremma, I used to go as I child with family and we still have films of my and my absolutely wild little sister roaming through the fields and the little towns. We are going this summer too from Edinburgh with two of our best friends who have a 1 and a half year old, I am so happy I will get to show my fiancé Tom and these friends some of my country. :) If you’d like recommendations in that area, or some from the Bologna area (where I am from), I would be thrilled to write you an email (least we can all do, with all you do for us each week!) xxx Love, Giulia

    • Hi Giulia, I’m going to Italy this fall, and though we don’t have our trip planned yet, we DO know that we are flying back from Bologna. Would absolutely love if you have any (non-touristy) recommendations you wouldn’t mind shooting over to me! :)

  74. Katie "probably comments too much" Sullivan (: says...

    I traveled as a nanny with a family in Italy. The kids were 3, 7, and 15. It was A BLAST! I was 19, but even then – it was so obvious that most Italians LOVE kids & especially babies, which made everything 1,000 times easier!
    Places I recommend with kids: Sienna, Luca, Ravenna, Rome, Florence, Asissi, Orvieto, Padua, and Pompeii (kids were fascinated by the volcano aspect).

    Rome is spectacular. So much incredible stuff in one place! And so so walk-able, too. The villa Borghese is super fun with kids – take a picnic & watch the roller skaters (roller skaters!) before checking out the ever HOT Bernini’s David, and definitely trek to the top of the cuppola at the Vatican. Incredible view! You can ride bikes on the Appian Way – I haven’t done that, but it’d prolly be a hoot with kids.

    Venice with kids…honestly? Not my favorite. Hot and magical and real tough with the 3 year old & probably it was my age, but I felt constantly anxious about one of the kids falling in the water. Sometimes in the summer the algae floats up so it can be stinky, but check w/a local on that.

    You cannot go wrong! You’ll have the best time! Oh, and for museums, a tip: start at the gift shop & buy a few postcards of the art, then play ‘matching’ &/or photo hunt as the pieces are discovered. The kids are always looking to “match” and you get to take in the work, too!

    • Alex says...

      This museum tip is PRO level. I’m going to start doing this with my kid and her cousins!!

  75. Amy says...

    My 2 cents would be wait until the fall. The summer is hot, crowded, and loaded with pickpockets. It’s stressful. BUT, otherwise really beautiful and even the early fall evenings are nice and warm.

    • Val says...

      I’ve been living in Florence for over 15 years…I would be happy to help you build a schedule in Tuscany if you contact me. Oh, and avoid coming here in the summer…it’s a little bit under 104 degrees with 100% humidity. And everything in August is closed.

  76. Lucie says...

    My boyfriend (now my husband!) and I travelled for 3 weeks in Italy the summer after we finished university. It was amazing! We started in Venice and my husband’s first real view of Italy was coming into Venice by water taxi which was a pretty fantastic experience. After a few days, we took the train to Verona which is a lovely city and the home of Romeo and Juliet. If you go in July, they have opera by starlight in the Roman amphitheatre. Watching Carmen while sitting on the ancient stone steps was unbelievable!
    We then took the train to Florence and from there explored San Gimignano, (beautiful!!) the beachside town of Viareggio and Pisa and Lucca.
    Finally we took the train to Rome, where after a few days we ran out of money and had to come home!!
    Rome is an awesome place but be aware that it is absolutely boiling in August. The other thing to bear in mind is that August is a holiday month in Italy. A lot of Italians take the whole month off so many restaurants etc are closed.
    We love Italy so much and have been several times now, although with our children yet!

    If you do go, I hope you all have a wonderful time xx

  77. Erica says...

    I recently visited Venice, Florence and Merano. Merano was the best! Located north near the Italian alps, Lots of outdoor excursions to do. Absolutely beautiful. We stayed at Josef Mountain Resort and we want to go back so bad!

    • Christina says...

      Happy to bear you enjoied my home ?

  78. We went to Venice with our 2 boys when they were 4 and 6, and it was a totally amazing trip. The boys still talk about it. Venice is a great place with kids… the no-cars factor makes such a difference. The kids can run all around and you just have to make sure they don’t fall into the water! We all loved the boat rides, the labyrinth streets, and eating pizza and gelato constantly.

  79. Kendall says...

    Rome is beyond great. I’d recommend getting a vrbo/Airbnb outside touristy areas. There is so much to see. Naples is worth the day trip for the pizza, it was beyond incredible – and in can be paired with a trip to Pompeii (a must-see in my opinion!) Happy planning!

  80. Shannon says...

    We honeymooned at this agriturismo in Tuscany: and it was truly Eden. There were multiple families staying there with kids during our trip. It is close enough to take the train to Florence or drive to Sienna. I highly recommend it and hope to go back with our two daughters one day.

  81. Chelsey says...

    We love Italy! We were married in Tuscany and will be going back for the fifth time this summer with our two kids. Honestly traveling in Italy with babies is like being a celebrity. Everyone is SO NICE!
    Even teenage boys would stop and chat/flirt with our son the last time we’re were there. Once in Milan a couple actually bought our dinner because they were so enamoured with our infant son. I tell everyone to go to Italy with kids! I can’t wait to hear about your experience.

    If you are looking for an amazing place to stay in Tuscany I can’t recommend enough!!!
    The reviews speak for themselves! The family who owns and runs the place has boys about your boys age. It’s the perfect place to base yourself and explore Tuscany.

  82. amy henning says...

    My husband and I have been to Italy 4 times without kids, and we love it! Your itinerary sounds great, but just be aware of the crazy heat and crowds that descend on Italy, especially tourist places in the summer. I would highly recommend Civita de bagnoresio (sp?) Near orvieto as the best hill town to visit ever! Also the Cinque Terre is magical

    Have fun!!

  83. JJ says...

    We stayed in this agriturismo with my husbands family (7 adults and a 2 year old.) They were fantastic with kids and had lots of activities to suggest. The area is also unbelievably beautiful and was close enough to do day trips to the surrounding cities like Sienna and Florence:

  84. Anastasia says...

    Cinque Terre is stunning and fun to explore. It’s five towns connected by trains (which are charming in their own right). There are no cars. You can walk between the towns via hiking routes. Each has it’s own unique character. We stayed in Vernazza which is the jewel, in my opinion. My favorite beach in the world.

  85. Fiona Jenkins says...

    We have a house in a little house in a village (Casperia) in the Sabina hills about 40 miles outside Rome. We first visited there with our boys when the were 8 and 5 and when asked the following year where they wanted to visit – even although that year we also visited Umbria and Bologna – they asked to go back to Casperia. We went for several years in succession and eventually bought a house there. It is a small medieval walled village – so, apart from small tractors moving things in out of the village, there is no traffic. There is a delightful b&b called La Torretta and also several airbnb’s. Places to eat and drink. Easy to get to Rome, to sightsee. Definitely worth considering.
    Wherever you visit in Italy it will be fabulous.

  86. Fran says...

    We went to Tuscany a couple years ago when our son was two and stayed at an old farmhouse that was run by the Spannocchia Foundation. So lovely and we would happily have stayed there much longer. We also mixed in some days in Florence for my friend’s wedding and some days in Milan where we flew in/out of. Our son loved the trolley rides around Milan. We loved having my parents along to watch our son while we went out for some solo dinners. Italy is an easy place to visit with kids and we would go back in a heartbeat.

  87. Mary Grace Fisher says...

    I’ve been reading since having my 2 year old but this is the first time I couldn’t help but post: I lived in Tuscany for 2 years out of college and think you would adore my adopted Italian family. AnnaLisa Tempestini makes her own wine from her home in a former monastery at the foot of the Val D’Orcia (just down the hill from Montalcino.) She’s a certified yoga teacher and all around Renaissance woman and I know would help you to make the most of southern Tuscany with kids. Pizza making class? Please let me know if you’d like her contact. During my time, I put together these itineraries of southern Tuscany ( for the resort where I worked: Borgo Finocchieto. The Borgo usually leases to large groups only, but it’s heaven on earth. And get better: the Obamas just spent the last 5 days there!

  88. Sam says...

    We just traveled to Italy with our two children, ages 5 and 7. It was so great. We started in Rome and drove up to Vicenza. But, my husband found this amazing town called Civita di Bagnoregio. We rented a home through Airbnb. The town only has 9 full time residents. It was beautiful! Sits high on these cliffs. I am an anxious traveler and so Jason didn’t tell me about it. You have to park under a bridge, bring your things for your stay and walk along a bridge into the town. Be sure to stop at the local market and pick up some prosciutto, wine and pasta for your meals as the restaurants are closed at night. Go there!! You will not be disappointed! We are already planning our next visit. :)

    • I’ve been to Civitande Bagnoregio too! It’s a hidden gem- feels like going back in time! You could also stay in nearby Orvieto which is famous for its robust white wine. Walkable for kids and beautiful sweeping views of Umbria.

  89. Elizabeth N says...

    We really loved our time in Tuscany. We visited many of the beautiful towns and our itineraries centered on meals. We took it slow and didn’t plan too much with little ones who still nap. We made sure to rent places in the center of town with bedrooms (so we could come home for naps if needed and wouldn’t have to sit in the dark after bedtime). The highlight of our time was an agriturismo called La Gavina ( – the meals were amazing and really impressed the kids too! The hosts are amazing with children. Our family is US Foreign Service, posted in Nariobi, and we travel a lot – still this trip remains a highlight for us!

  90. Rob says...

    Glad you asked! I’m going to Italy in two days with my wife and two kids (1 and 3). We’re flying into Rome and going directly down to a small town just outside of Sorrento for 10 days, then back up to Rome for 2 days on our way out. While in Sorrento we’ll be doing some day trips to the likes of Positano, Capri, Ischia, Naples, and Ravello. I also heard there is a cool train museum just south of Naples for the kids. Lots of amazing areas in Italy to go to. Just be aware of the mass tourism in July and August.

  91. Jessica says...

    I traveled around northern Italy with my mom a few weeks ago and we just LOVED the lakes in the Alps. We stayed near lake Como and it was just stunning! It might be nice to get out of the cities and spend some time in the Alps where it might be a bit cooler, plus the lakes have loads of activities which could be fun for kids.
    We also really loved Alba and the surrounding winelands, the area was just jaw-droppingly beautiful and probably also a bit less busy than the more famous cities :)

  92. Rachel says...

    I was just in Italy in October for my honeymoon and one of our favorite places to visit was the Modena area just north of Florence. It’s where all of the fancy car/motorcycle museums (like Ferrari and Ducati) are, which my husband loved and your boys might enjoy. And then I got my fill of foodie lifestyle in the area by touring the Giuseppe Giusti Balsamic Vinegar factory (it’s supposedly the oldest in the area and the smell was incredible) and going on a tour of a parmesan factory as well. The tours themselves didn’t take long and of course the best part was the tastings at the end.

  93. Karen says...

    We live in Switzerland and are often in Italy. We love Rom, Siena, Lucca, Bologna and Bellagio. Take your boys to “il buco di roma” for a nice surprise and a fantastic view of St.Peter. Book a trip to the Vatican Nekropolis- fantastic adventure seeing some of the oldest christian art while walking underneath St.Peter. Church Santa Maria Maggiore: breathtaking mosaics and a landmark in art history. Right across the street is one of the best pasticcerias in town and the kids can choose a delicious cake or two. And if you go to Lucca, wonderful for countless reasons, have the best meal of your life at Buca di Sant’Antonio! Have a great trip! Any chance of a night or two in Switzerland?

  94. Angela says...

    Lake Como!! Relatively easy to get to, lots of little towns to explore, easy to rent a boat and cruise around the lake, and close enough to Switzerland to justify a train ride through the Alps like I did :) Have also been to Milan and Venice and I don’t think you’d be missing anything spectacular if you had to cross them off your list (considering you’ll have 2 littles in tow).

  95. Joanna Goddard says...

    cannot thank you enough for these recommendations!! so excited to read through them carefully this weekend :) :) :)

  96. Mel says...

    A little late to this party, but we just went for Easter with our girls (2 and 5). We rented a house in Tuscany and drove to a different town every day. It was an absolute DREAM. The house was magnificent and had a lovely pool / hot tub and huge yard. It was fairly affordable because it was the middle of nowhere, but still close to the towns (Pienza, Montepulciano, etc.). We found that the kids did great at lunch time. We went to a different restaurant each of the 9 days. Two of them were michelin-starred place and they were PERFECT. If we had tried to take them out for dinner, I’m sure there would have been meltdowns. So we usually had a large multi-course lunch, then got gelato in town. Dinner was charcuterie and wine. It was truly wonderful!

    • Hi Mel, my family is headed to Lucca in July in Tuscany. If you have any restaurant recs that were must stops, would love to know.

  97. I think your itinerary sounds perfect! We did Rome, Florence and Venice last year and loved it. I will add though that we did all of that in one week, and I think that pace would be too much for young kids. We stayed in Airbnbs for the entire trip which we found to be cheaper than hotels. But read the reviews as many had several flights of stairs. :)

  98. Abby says...

    I am sure it has been said but Italy (especially the cities) are HOT HOT HOT and CROWDED. Go for a quick stop to see the sights then head out to the country ! Tuscany, the Lakes, Forti di Marmi is supposed to be a great local beach town. Not hilly like Amalfi. Regardless it will be a blast.

    • Carrie says...

      Totally agree! Get to the country- Tuscany is so dreamy! We spent a week at an agriturismo outside of Siena. Borgo argenina . It was perfect. Also looked at creataoile another agriturismo in near piensa.

  99. Alessandra Innocenti says...

    when you are in Rome you have to stay at the
    The owner of this bed and breakfast is a Friend
    Her name is Linda Martinez contact her and tell her that you are my friend
    if you want a nice place just in the center of Florence stay at my friend
    “ognissanti appartments ” you find her on Facebook she is my friend the owner
    gianna is my friend she also owns a very small houuse in the chianti the place is Volpaia i think that you should stay there for a night
    if you do not want to stay in the center of florence let me know

  100. Allison says...

    If you go to Verona (which is quickly surpassing florence in popularity, better to see it now before it is teeming with tourist traps) you should really consider staying at the Juliet House B&B. I stayed there last winter and the owner, a sweet little italian man named Gianni, is a total gem. He lives in a separate apartment upstairs with his family, and he comes down in the mornings to bring his guests hot breakfast and to chat for a couple minutes. He will help you find fun things to do in the city and will generally be your favorite part of your trip. He speaks broken english and is 100% adorable. The place is a little small, but clean and comfortable. And Verona is SO walkable! I am usually not someone who calls cities walkable, but Verona is extraordinarily walkable.

  101. Alessandra Innocenti says...


  102. Alessandra Innocenti says...

    When will you be coming to Italy ? august can be very very hot
    how long will your vacation be ?
    tomorrow i will go for the weekend in a very lovely place at the beach called Castiglion della Pescaia
    its fantastic place perfect for kids if you decide to come to Florence let me know and i will arrange for you the place to stay

  103. Katie says...

    My husband and I went to Italy for 3 weeks for our honeymoon. We started in Rome, then Tuscany (based out of Siena with day trips to Florence, Chianti, Montepulciano), and finally Venice. It was complete magic. It was a year ago, and I miss it dearly. We went in May and the weather was lovely (warm all day with a few beautiful thunderstorms). I would recommend traveling a little further out (September or maybe even October) to avoid the crowds and get those milder temperatures. I think kids would love Siena and even Rome (if you do go to Siena, this restaurant changed my life: Those cities are so easy to walk around. There’s also a lovely island off of Venice (Lido) with swimming that they may like. There’s truly no going wrong in Italy. We’re planning a trip back already, and while I adored each and every place, we’ll probably try the south next. Have a wonderful trip!

  104. Janan W says...

    We lived in Italy (Vicenza) for 3 years and now live in Germany, but have been back 3 times already.
    I second the above comment about avoiding August, even now the big cities are filling up. A September trip would be much more enjoyable.
    That being said you can’t go wrong in Italy.

  105. Emily C says...

    Hi, I seldom comment but I have been reading you every day for forever – before your wedding certainly. We used to visit Italy for a couple months every year. We moved to Florence full time six years ago, and I spend most of my days – after school – with our two Italian/American grandchildren, now 6 and 8. Georgette’s blog GirlinFlorence is great, but she doesn’t have children. Please take a look at our daughter’s business Buongiorno Principessa ( As you will see she can give you ideas of exactly what to do on a rainy afternoon in Florence with kids and much more. As many others have commented, try to come in June or September. Except in the mountains (where we go for time out of the city in July and August) Italy is hot and crowded in the summer, especially the cities and the beaches. In August many restaurants and shops, in the cities but also elsewhere, close for the Ferragosto holiday. Too many good ideas to share here. Take trains, if you can, instead of renting a car. Please get in touch if you want more suggestions. My husband’s passion here is cycling and mine is art history, but know that you will have to plan your time and adjust your activities in order to have happy days with your boys. Happy planning! xo

  106. Makena says...

    I just did Italy with my one year old, and we had a blast. We did Kid and Coe and stayed in the Testaccio neighborhood in Rome (a little more local/off the beaten path, but walking distance to all the major sites – especially the Colosseum). We rented this apartment:

    It’s perfect with children because there is an amazing pizza spot right downstairs, a playground across the street, and an awesome gelato place right around the corner. The host was also super helpful and gave lots of great recommendations in the neighborhood and beyond. It’s also walking distance to Trastevere, which is another great locals neighborhood with tons of cool little churches, shops and great restaurants to explore.

    I would echo everyone who suggests renting a car. We had a good experience picking up a car at the airport in Rome and finding free street parking. We dropped it off at a different airport with no issues. The trains can be unreliable and hectic, and taxis are a pain in the ass and can be very expensive.

    We then drove to Tuscany and stayed here:

    It’s a picturesque countryside hotel on a huge farm with tons of animals, a pool and two restaurants on site. It’s a close drive to Montepulciano, Pienza and Sienna, as well as tons of vineyards. A great home base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Driving up from Rome, you’ll also go through Umbria and can stop at Orvieto, which has an amazing church and is a very quintessential Italian countryside town.

    Enjoy your trip! Italy is ALWAYS incredible, no matter what your plan is. You’ll find it to be a VERY kid friendly culture!

  107. Ellen says...

    Love Italy. We were lucky enough to have visit this beautiful country many times. My absolute favorite are the lakes: Garda, Menacchio. Magical. I wouldn’t spend to much time in the city, Rome, Florence, Sienna is very HOT in summer and soooo many people. There is history and beauty everywhere, the italian countryside and the little villages, sipping espresso on a little bench, eating gelato every day, pizza, pasta, wine. To many recommendations, you need to experience yourself. But really, don’t underestimate the heat and crowds in the summer.

  108. Betty says...

    Two years ago (almost to the day) a group of friends spent two glorious weeks in Italy. Our favorite part was spending a week in the Italian countryside in a rented authentic farmhouse. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the experience. I’d highly recommend them! Can’t wait to hear where you go.

  109. anna says...

    I am going against the grain here, but I did not have the best experience with trains in Italy. Granted, we were a family of 5 travelling with multiple luggages in the middle of August from Venice to Rome to Sicily, but since then I have only rented cars. It is so much more convenient. I recommend using public transit in the city centres but travelling from city to city with a rental car. Oh, and I only travel with carry-ons if it isn’t a direct flight. Twice my suitcase was lost from Montreal to Rome / Rome to MTL so i never take the chance anymore. We pack comfortable shoes and summer clothes which barely take up any space!

  110. Summer says...

    We took a 2-week trip a couple of years ago to Europe with Italy smack in the middle. We rented an apartment in Venice for 3 nights, a bit off the beaten path. It was amazing to be able to hang out, shop at the market around the corner (and over the foot bridge), cook meals ourselves and walk Venice. While there are tons of touristy and crowded spots – there are hidden and quite areas too – the Jewish section being my favorite. One other spot we stopped at for the afternoon was Verona – it was charming with a ton to do and see – without a crushing amount of visitors. It killed me a little that we had not planned to stay for a couple of days there!

  111. Laura says...

    Suggestion from an Italian who lives in Italy :-)
    Rent a car and drive through the Appennini from Tuscany ( Florence ) to Venice.
    And stops several times on the mountaines enjoying local food and panorama. It’s not the Alps but that part of Italy is pretty good.

  112. Emma says...

    We are heading to Perugia in October for three months, with a 3.5 year old and a (yet to be born) 3 month old. Any hints on Italy in Winter/Christmas with small kids would be appreciated ☺️ We have been to Florence but that’s it.

    • Mina says...

      You will LOVE Perugia! I spent three summers studying Italian there. Such a fantastic town! Enjoy!

  113. Laura says...

    My parents took us to Italy 3 times when I was growing up–age 2 (for 3 weeks), 8 (for 1 month), 12 (for 2 weeks). As a kid I always had so much fun! Italy is a great destination for travel with kids. I’ve returned a few times since as an adult and also spent 4 months in Rome studying abroad in college.

    I read a few comments that recommended staying in Trastevere but it can be VERY loud (late night partying) if you end up on the wrong street. A quieter neighborhood would be Prati (by the Vatican) and it’s also very convenient to the metro which is helpful if you don’t have much time. From Trastevere your only options are bus and tram.

    In Tuscany, I can’t recommend Montepulciano enough. Smack in the middle of the Val d’Orcia–gorgeous scenery!!–it provides a good base point for southern/eastern Tuscany (Pienza, Cortona, Montalcino) and you’re also within striking distance of Siena or Florence for a day trip. Most classic pictures you see (rolling hills, italian cypress) are taken in the Val d’Orcia–not to be missed.

  114. Jocelyn says...

    We went to Florence with our then 10 month old in April and had an absolute blast. Italians truly adore children and we got special treatment everywhere from old men in restaurants to tour guides at the Uffizi, if he had been older I think we may have stayed in Lucca. Lucca is a really cool “walled” city only 20-30 minutes from Florence by train and is fantastic for burning off energy and walking the walls of the city. If you do go to Florence definitely see the Boboli Gardens if the boys need to run off some energy, it’s this incredible huge garden with the Palazzo out front.

  115. I love Lucca, a smalish but beautiful town in Tuscany! And then of course you can’t go wrong with the Amalfi Coast and Capri to enjoy this true feeling of Dolce Vita.

    Have fun planning your trip!

    XOX. Lea

  116. Julie says...

    We love Puglia – the beaches and festivals are spectacular. You could spend a couple of days in Lecce, Ostuni and Matera. The driving seemed more chill (though still pretty wild). I’ve been twice (no kids though) and always magical!

  117. Wow I wasn’t even sure you need my comment after seeing all the responses, but I wanted to share we also took our boys, when they were small, ages 7 and 10 to Italy and it was wonderful. We started in Rome where we stayed in the wonderful and family friendly Hotel Lancelot. They have terrific family rooms. They are located near the colosseum and it’s a great spot too to stroll at night with the kids and get gelato. Do not miss Borghese Gardens with the kids and especially The Borghese Museum. Their tour with headsets is made for kids. They have them looking at paintings trying to find cats, etc. SO fun for them!

    We then took the train to Florence and stayed a few nights at I Parigi which is just up the hill, an old monastery with a beautiful pool overlooking olive covered hills. They had American donuts for my boys every day and breakfast in their garden was a highlight. Still Florence is just a walk down the hill and a five minute bus ride, so you get the Tuscany experience too.

    After we took the train to Venice, also wonderful and the kids adored wandering the streets and taking a Vaporetto. I firmly think the earlier you take kids to travel, the better. My boys are now in college and high school and are great travelers. We plan to go to Positano and Mt Vesuvius this summer. A post I wrote about taking kids abroad, some tips and good hotels we have stayed at here:
    Have a wonderful time!!

    • anna says...

      I stayed at Hotel Lancelot in 2003. What a beautiful hotel with amazing location!

  118. I’m an American who lives in Rome. If you’re planning to come to Italy this summer book places now. Many places popular places are already fully booked.

    I wouldn’t go to Venice, Cinque Terre, or Positano during the summer and definitely not with small children. If you’ve been to Rome before, I would go to Puglia, Sicily (skip Taormina or just pop in for a day. It’s beautiful but is the most touristy city in Sicily) or head north to Piemonte or the Lake region.

    Rome is already packed and it’s only late May.

    I second the recommendations that you come in September instead of August. September is still high season but at least more places will be open. Many non-touristy places completely shut down in August for Ferragosto. The last thing you want to do is be in a hot city (limited AC) and all the locals are gone.

    • I totally agree! I studied abroad in Rome from January to May and May was miserable with both heat and sooooo many tourists.

  119. AJ says...

    Depending on the timing, I’d absolutely recommend attending The Palio in Siena. It’s a magical medieval horse race between competing neighborhoods and you can eat with a neighborhood on the eve of the race and watch a horse get blessed in a church the morning of. It’s fantastic and on its own, the city is wonderful. Lucca is also a lovely little town with a bike path around its border which might be fun!

    • stasha says...

      One of my top ten travel experiences was happening on the Palio in 2003 and watching from the inner ring (right up against the outer edge) – and getting pushed around by giant italian men rooting for their Contrada! People fainted from the heat and had to be taken out on stretchers.

  120. I live in Chianti if you come to tuscany you must visit Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Gaiole in chianti, you would fall in love with the beautiful countryside view.
    I would love to meet you!!!
    Italy is waiting for you!

  121. Laurie says...

    Cortona is gorgeous, not as crowded as Florence or Siena, and a more kid-friendly size. Also, Lucca is a hidden gem. It’s a walled city and you can rent bikes to ride around the top of the wall – more like a linear park. I didn’t do it with kids, but I’ll bet it would be lots of fun!

  122. Josie says...

    We just spent 2 weeks in Italy in March. We based in Florence in an Airbnb the whole time and just hopped on the train for day trips to visit Arezzo, Bologna and Siena (taking days here and there to wander Florence). And then we simply grabbed an overnight bag and hopped the train to stay overnight in Verona and then on to stay overnight in Venice. We loved having a central home base for the trip.

    Rome and Venice both sound great for the kids. “Girl in Florence” is a great blog from a Texas expat living in Florence for the past 10 years, and she has extensive lists for places to see and places to eat in Florence and surrounding cities.

  123. You had me at the pic of the Coliseum, brava! I live half time in Italy and half time in the States, Rome is by far my jam above all. Your tentative plan is good. I would absolutely fly into Rome regardless of where you go after as it’s central and flight options abound. Plus it’s the perfect place to stay a few days, look around, and then head out.

    Another option, if you want some coast time, is to fly into Rome, train down to Naples, and take a ferry over to Ischia, the less touristy island north of Capri. Filled with locals, Ischia is a stunner as well. Then you could also do Tuscany on the backend of the trip.

    I’m not sure where you plan on staying in Rome or what is on the agenda, but I would suggest doing a Vespa tour with Scooteroma ( They have a foodie tour as well, mmmm. Just featured on CBS Sunday morning news last week, they also have these cute little cars called ape, they use for the tour that you could use with the boys. The owner, Annie, is a friend of mine. Please do let me know if you would like to book and I can put you in touch.

    I also have a ton more tips and non-touristy places (in Rome and other places) that I regularly send to my friends that I have curated over many, many, trips. Cooking classes with locals, etc. Please consider this an invitation to email me, I would be happy to share them with you.

    • Hi Robyn–I’m shamelessly piggybacking on Jo, but my husband and I are planning on heading to Italy this Fall–is there any chance that I could see your greater suggestions as well? My email is Thanks!!

    • Hannah says...

      Same! I’m going to Italy in the end of August (yeah, bad time to visit, but it’s too late to change it) and I’d love some recommendations for cooking classes and other tips. If you’re up for it, I’d love for you to email me at Thanks!!

    • Mer says...

      Hi Robyn,

      Sorry, this is many, many months late, but I’ve been scavenging for Rome/Venice tips for my upcoming (anniversary!) trip to Italy over New Year’s and wondered if you would still be open to sharing some of your insider tips?

      My email address is Would be so grateful :).


  124. Lauren E. says...

    I don’t really have any recommendations for a family traveling to Italy, so I’ll just add that I am SO JEALOUS! I got married in Campagnano di Roma just outside of Rome last October and it’s maybe my favorite place in the whole world. Pro tip: eat all the meats and cheeses and pasta, and drink all the wine. :)

  125. Joanna, please visit Cinque Terre (one of the best places we’ve been), Milan, Siena and Verona. Less touristy, great food and so much to see & do. Also, the trains are decent.

    You can swim, dive, play on the beach, take a boat, hike, eat all you can (pesto came from here), ride trains that pass through tunnels (kids love it) and overall, have a great “local” experience at Cinque Terre. We stayed at Riomaggiore and loved every bit of it. Though, I believe Monterosso is most popular for staying. I love the cobbling streets too! The hike from Monterosso to Vernazza in the evening is spectacular (I suggest planning to end around sunset) , though I would not recommend it for kids.

    Milan is a great first stop. Easy to take a flight to, not overwhelmingly huge and has enough history for kids to enjoy. The rooftop of the Duomo di Milano is amazing and I am sure you all will love it. Also well connected to Cinque Terre by train.

    Also love the vibe of Siena & Verona. (And just plain simple tired of typing * hides face *)

  126. We are traveling to Italy this summer (mid July). Flying into Rome and then going to Tuscany and Florence– we’re ending our trip with Switzerland for a few days as well! My husband and I are photographers, and are looking for couples/families to photograph while we’re there! Feel free to email us if interested!

  127. Tiffany Jordan says...

    I was in Italy just after Christmas and San Gimignano was my favorite.

  128. Lynn says...

    I just got back from a trip to Italy (from London where I’m based) and we did Rome, Florence, Tuscany and it was the right order from busy busy to far more relaxed. We flew into Rome, trained to Florence, rented a car and drove to Tuscany and flew out of Pisa (or you could drive it back to Rome if you’re doing RT from JFK/Newark/Laguardia). The car option in Tuscany is ideal for exploring.

    My partner and I stayed at this airbnb in Montichello, a truly small Tuscan village with two restaurants and that’s about it. We stayed in the detched place which had its own mini kitchen. It may be a bit tight for four, but the main house has a couple of rooms to check out.

    We were so happy with the airbnb and the location, which is about a 20-30 minute drive to La Foce (beautiful garden) and Pienza (adorable iconic Tuscan village). It was about an hour to Cortona (which was a bit underwhelming in comparison to Pienza but made famous w Under the Tuscan Sun).

    As for Rome, make sure to book both the Colosseum and Vatican in advance. It’s an obvious to do but I was surprised how many people didnt and waited in line for HOURS to get into either. We did a guided tour for the Roman stuff and self guided for Vatican. I’m not sure how appealing that would be for little ones, so you may be better off with self-guided tours. (Download Rick Steve’s FREE podcasts for loads of places in Italy.

    Stay in Trasteverte if you do Rome, it’s a bit of a walk (or a short 10 min bus to the attractions) but it’s the fun part of town. Eat at Pianostrada, which is run by four amazing women. Featured in NYT 36 Hours –

    Florence is great for adults, but not sure the kids will find it as interesting. It’s a very small city, all walkable.

    I went to Venice for a long weekend and it’s beautiful and charming, but might give Venice a skip given it’s unbearable at this time of year, plus the biennale is happening right now. It’s the HEART of tourist season so depends on your tolerance for that (I don’t have much).

    Have a great trip!!

    • Martina says...

      The Biennale could be fun for kids though! Skip the Arsenale and head straight to the Giardini, a park where every country has an actual little building (they’re all in different style). Lots of fun stuff to look at, plus an ice cream kiosk, boats, a greenhouse café and a fountain with turtles ;)
      It’s quite a trek, so take the Vaporetto.
      Don’t do that in a weekend in July or August.
      (That holds true for most activities in Italy…)

      Personally, I would probably go to Sicily! Amazing food, history, architecture, people, and scenery :)

      /an Italian reader