Our guide to a family vacation in Italy
Italy is perfect for a family vacation. It’s the only country in the world where kids will be able to learn about gladiators, sail on gondolas and learn how to make pizza all in the same day.
From historical cities and beautiful islands to rolling hills and ancient ruins, Italy has something for everyone. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together this guide to a family vacation in Italy.
Activities for all ages
With something to suit everyone, Italy is one of the best places for multi-generational travel. From wandering through the Vatican City in the early hours of the morning to learning how to make pizza in Rome, options abound in this wonderful country. Italy pleases little adventurers just as much as seasoned explorers. There’s plenty of opportunity to add small elements of fun to tourist attractions too, so it’s the perfect place for kids.
In Rome, the whole family can delve into Italy’s history with a visit to a gladiator school. Travellers firstly get appropriately dressed for the occasion by donning a toga and wooden sword. With the help of the Historic Group of Rome, participants then learn the basics of hand to hand combat. During this unique experience, you’ll discover the secrets of Imperial Rome’s gladiator games, get hands-on with ancient history and learn about what life was like in ancient Rome with a wander around the on-site museum.
Of course, no family trip to Italy is complete without a visit to Venice, and no trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride. For a backstage insight into how these gondolas operate, families can tour a gondola yard. Wandering through a gondola yard gives the whole family the chance to see how these boats operate out of water. You’ll get to know how the boats are crafted and maintained, while children can delight in examining the gondolas from every angle. Once you’ve learned how gondolas are built, there are few better ways to spend an afternoon in Venice than riding in one. Travelling like a Venetian down one of the city’s many canals is sure to show you and your family Venice from a completely different angle.
The islands near Venice are also worth exploring if you’re on a family trip to Italy – the colourful streets and artistic traditions are sure to delight. Murano, world famous since the 1200s for the art of glass making, is a particular highlight. Visiting one of Venice’s most important glass factories here is the perfect family activity. You’ll have a private show of how the intricate glass work is made, followed by a tour of the showroom that houses the works of great glass masters. Meeting the local glass blowers on Murano will leave the whole family mesmerised by this incredible art form.
Italy is the perfect place to educate little ones about history, but that doesn’t mean wandering through sprawling cities has to be boring. In Florence, families can explore on a fun and educational Renaissance-themed treasure hunt. Suitable for children aged between 6 and 11, little explorers will be given an old city map and a compass to guide them through the highlights of the city. The focus of the hunt is Renaissance history, so children can have fun learning how coded letters were written and deciphering them. This experience feels like a real life treasure hunt, with kids earning points and prizes along the way to store in their special prize bags. The treasure hunt ends in style, with participants making an old Florentine craft and finding their final treasure.
Pizza, pasta and gelato
Rightly world-renowned, Italian food is fun for all the family. With familiar ingredients on offer, Italy is a great place for kids to awaken their culinary senses. In the land that birthed pizza, pasta and mozzarella (to name but a few), there’s no shortage of fun foodie experiences. Nothing is more authentically Italian than pizza, and there are few things more likely to bring a family together than learning how to make pizza in Rome. You’ll be welcomed to the experience by a professional pizza maker and get to knead the dough, create the topping and pop it into the oven. The best part about this foodie Italian experience? The whole family will get to enjoy the creations once they’re cooked!
Little explorers’ favourite food generally tends to be sweet treats, and Italy has its fair share of them. In Florence, families can enjoy a gelato tour – learning how gelato was invented and seeing how it’s made from start to finish is all part of this gastronomic experience. Of course, it would be cruel to make any child, or adult for that matter, watch how gelato is made without giving them a chance to taste it. This foodie tour ends with a comparative tasting of many gelato flavours at different gelatarias, so it’s something the whole family can get excited about!
While the Amalfi Coast may conjure up images of celebrity and glamour, it’s also a great place for a family vacation. Here, you can indulge in all of life’s pleasures – food, wine and shopping can all be enjoyed here without any sense of guilt. Super yachts and impressive Italian sports cars in chic coastal cities are juxtaposed beside rural village life here, so families can get an insight into how Italian life has changed over the years.
As with most of Italy, food takes centre stage. Some of Europe’s finest restaurants can be found here, as well as rustic establishments selling classic Neapolitan food – there’s something to suit the tastes of even the fussiest family member. On a family trip to the Amalfi Coast, travellers can spend time yachting on the Tyrrhenian Sea, driving along the sublime coastal road or indulging in some of Italy’s finest cuisine.
Rural Tuscany is perhaps Italy’s best playground for families. Undulating hills, dark green cypress trees and ranked vines all create a postcard perfect scene that is evocative of classic Italy. The rural countryside dotted with idyllic towns makes for a great environment for a spot of family exploration. With a history of culture, wine, fine food and tangible history, Tuscany appeals to multiple generations. Whether you’re interested in art, food, hiking or adventure, this slice of Italian countryside has something for everyone.
Visiting Italy’s cities is like taking an interactive history tour, with expert guides bringing some of Italy’s ancient buildings to life. Kids will love imagining the epic scenes that once took place in Rome’s Colosseum, while the historic ruins of Pompeii make for a fascinating day out. In Rome, families can go on a tour of the Colosseum to learn about how the complex was used back in 72 AD. Built by the Emperor Vaspian, this complex seated about 50,000 spectators and staged all the most blood-thirsty games known to ancient Romans. Gladiatorial combat, man against beast, beast against beast, land battles, sea battles and executions – all of these were designed to inspire and instill fear in the citizens at the heart of the mighty Roman Empire.
In southern Italy, visiting Pompeii feels as though you are travelling back in time. The ancient city of Pompeii faced hardship in the August of 79 AD, when Vesuvius had been rumbling for some time. A large portion of the population – around 20,000 people – had been evacuated, while those that were left were as if suspended in time. Today, the plaster casts made of the bodies serve as a stark reminder of the power of Mother Nature. What is most astounding about Pompeii, though, is how large Roman cities were. As you wander through impressive Roman streets, baths, fountains and courtyards, you’ll begin to understand the true prowess of the Roman Empire.
Discover our favourite family trips to Italy
Feeling inspired? Our expert travel designers are always on hand to help you plan your family adventure through Italy.