Florence with children: what to see and what to do
Florence, like all great cities of art, may seem unsuitable for a holiday with children. Nothing could be more false, the city has a lot to offer even to the little ones with lots of spaces dedicated to them and perfect activities for the whole family. Leaving aside the more demanding and crowded museums, there are many other points of interest on which to build targeted visits to spend a nice day with the children.
In this article I want to give you some tips on what to see and what to do if you are traveling with children. A mix of curiosities, museums, attractions and panoramic points to visit the city in a fun way.
- Rub the nose of the Porcellino
- Cross the Ponte Vecchio
- Merry-go-round in Piazza della Repubblica
- Go up to the Dome of the Duomo
- Museo Galileo
- Boboli Gardens
- La Specola
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- Archaeological Museum
- Stibbert Museum
Rub the nose of the Porcellino
Let’s start with a curiosity linked to one of the symbols of Florence. The so-called Porcellino (little pig) is a fountain with a bronze statue located near the loggia of the Mercato Nuovo, not far from Ponte Vecchio. Made by the sculptor Pietro Tacca in 1612, the work is a copy of a Roman marble which is in the Uffizi. The name must not be misleading because the statue does not represent a pig but a boar. The Porcellino is the protagonist of a popular belief that rubbing his nose brings good luck. After touching the pig’s nose, you have to put a coin in his mouth; if the coin falls and enters the fountain grate, you will have luck otherwise you won’t. Every day many people try their luck in this way and in fact the pig’s nose is particularly shiny.
Cross the Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous monuments in the city and is a great example of what you can find in Florence by taking a walk in the historic center. The bridge is famous both for its historicity and for its characteristics that make it unique in the world. Crossing it you can admire a series of small houses occupied by the workshops and shops of goldsmiths, a breathtaking view of the Arno river and, if you lift your nose, you will notice the Vasari Corridor, a secret passage that serves to connect Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti.
Merry-go-round in Piazza della Repubblica
Located right in the heart of the historic center, not far from Piazza della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Repubblica corresponds to the ancient Roman forum. Here, in fact, at the point where the Column of Abundance stands, the cardo and the decumanus, the two main streets of the Roman settlement, crossed. In the square, a merry-go-round was installed in the early 1900s which has now become a real piece of the city’s history. The style of the carousel is absolutely classic and fairytale with horses and carriages without modern cars or vehicles. The carousel does not have intrusive music and does not turn too loud so even the little ones can take a ride in complete safety.
Go up to the Dome of the Duomo
In the introduction, I promised to talk about viewpoints and what better viewpoint than the dome of the Duomo? Brunelleschi’s masterpiece, a true miracle of engineering, stands on a base 60 meters high to which he adds another 56. In practice, the lantern on the top of the dome is the highest structure in the whole city and from up there you can admire an incomparable panorama. I tell you right away, the climb is challenging both because there are 463 steps to do and because you have to go through tight spaces, therefore it is not recommended for those suffering from claustrophobia or dizziness. An alternative, a little easier, is the climb to Giotto’s Bell Tower which in turn offers a fantastic view of the city.
The Museo Galileo in Florence is located in Piazza dei Giudici, a stone’s throw from the Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio. The museum itinerary winds through 18 thematic rooms, in which many scientific instruments collected by the Medici and Lorraine between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries are exhibited. The museum is also equipped with a multimedia laboratory used during the numerous educational activities offered to schools and beyond. In fact, every weekend, the Galileo Museum offers meetings dedicated to children of all ages; an excellent opportunity to learn something while having fun.
For all information on timetables, tickets and educational activities, I recommend you visit the museum’s official website.
If you visit Florence and in particular if you do it with your children, you absolutely cannot miss the wonderful Boboli Gardens! The park develops behind Palazzo Pitti on an area of 45,000 m² in a succession of tree-lined avenues, rare plants, statues and fountains. Inside there are also some museums, in particular the Porcelain Museum which is located in the Casino del Cavaliere and the Costume Gallery which is located in the Palazzina della Meridiana. Not far from Boboli, always on the same side of the Arno, there are another couple of gardens that I recommend you visit: the Bardini Garden and the Rose Garden.
Among the scientific museums in Florence, I want to point out La Specola, a natural history museum located in Via Romana. The museum is located in the historic Torrigiani palace where the Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History was already in 1775, the oldest scientific museum in Europe, of which La Specola is the direct heir. The museum itinerary accompanies visitors in the discovery of a large number of animal species (it is mainly a zoological museum), with thousands of specimens exhibited including invertebrates, reptiles, fishes, birds and mammals.
Piazzale Michelangelo and the most classic panorama
Another thing to do in Florence is to take the children to admire the city from Piazzale Michelangelo, its most famous viewpoint. The Piazzale is a magnificent terrace overlooking the city from which you can enjoy a 180° view of all the main monuments from the Basilica of Santa Croce to Ponte Vecchio, with the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and the Lungarni. You can show your children the city in all its glory and play to those who recognize more things.
The Archaeological Museum, a dip in the past
We have already seen a couple of science museums, perfect for a first approach to science, but Florence is a city famous above all for its art and its history. A nice way to get in touch with the ancient history of the city and of Tuscany in general, is to visit the Archaeological Museum located in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. The museum has one of the most important collections in the whole Italian panorama with important evidence of the Etruscan, Greek and Roman civilizations. Who knows if your children, admiring the masterpieces of ancient art such as the Chimera of Arezzo, the Francois Vase or the Sarcophagus of the Amazons, will want to become little Indiana Jones.
Stibbert Museum, weapons, armor and knights
I close this article with one of my favorite museums: the Stibbert Museum. As a child I have been there I don’t know how many times and every time I was fascinated in front of all those knights with their shining armor, swords and shields; for me every time was like a daydream. In the museum there is also a room where you can wear some pieces of armor and take a souvenir photo in the guise of a brave warrior. I don’t think there is a single child in the world who would not instantly fall in love with the Stibbert Museum!