Tuscany is hands-down one of the most idyllic, dreamt-about places in the world. There are so many things to do in Tuscany! For adults, there’s no shortage of pleasures. You can sip Super Tuscan wines, linger for hours over alfresco lunches, or take the waters in mineral springs that date from the Roman Empire.
But what to do if you’re travelling with children? We’ve been there ourselves, and we have some ideas. There are so many family-friendly things to enjoy in Tuscany that the question shouldn’t be what to do but which one to do first. Therefore, we offer here some of our favourite activities for families with children.
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Tuscany’s Cities
Experiment with re-creations of the master’s machines at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence
Interactive models are one of the main draws at the Museo Leonardo da Vinci, in the city centre. Kids will appreciate the meticulous handcrafted machines based on Leonardo’s original sketches and the educational tours. The WLeonardo! workshop is dedicated to making physics easy to understand and fun. Meanwhile, adults will also appreciate the setting, the historic Caffè Michelangiolo, a meeting point for the 19th-century Florentine painters known as the Macchiaoli.
Examine the fossils at the Paleontological Museum in Montevarchi
A great thing to do in Tuscany is to make a journey back in time—way back. With 2,600 specimens, the Museo Paleontologico is one of the oldest of its kind in Italy. It dates from 1829 and has spent nearly two centuries compiling a collection that traces climatic and environmental history from 3.1 million years ago. Expect the remains of fauna such as elephants, hippopotamuses, giant hyenas, and early artifacts of human presence, such as the oldest known arrowhead in the world. Another section offers insight into the Roman and Etruscan presence in the region.
Get to know the genius astronomer’s instruments of discovery at the Galileo Museum in Florence
This medieval palace full of items from the Medicis’ collection is one of the best things to do in Tuscany. The Museo Galileo contains one of the world’s most important collections of scientific equipment. There are even pieces that belonged to the 16th-century astronomer himself, including telescopes and lenses that he used to study Jupiter’s moons. Even better, galleries spotlight astronomy, the measurement of time, representations of the ancient and medieval world, the science of warfare, and chemistry.
Activities for Kids in the Tuscan Countryside
Spot dolphins in Viareggio
There’s a large pod of bottlenose dolphins in the waters off Versilia, part of the protected Pelagos Sanctuary. It’s home to the Tuscan Observatory of Cetaceans, which conducts research on the marine mammals. More important, CeTuS arranges dolphin-spotting tours with marine biologists aboard a catamaran. Families who want to learn more can visit the maritime museum in Viareggio.
Dive into the world of Pinocchio at the character’s namesake park in Collodi
The little boy with the growing nose was in fact born in Tuscany, as an invention of the writer Carlo Lorenzini, better known as Carlo Collodi, after the village where he lived. Now Collodi is home to Parco di Pinocchio, a refined, Italian-style theme park (think gardens and nature, not roller coasters and Disney princesses) dedicated to the boy and his adventures. This park is another great thing to do in Tuscany. There are statues and artworks of characters and scenes from the story, art exhibitions and illustrations, and puppet-making workshops. Children can climb and play on some of the installations.
Get up close with other animals at the Pistoia Zoo
One of the most popular things to do in Tuscany, the Giardina Zoologico in the hills near Pistoia, is home to about 400 animals of 100 species. In its 45-year history, the zoo has been involved in a number of conservation projects with Italian universities. These include preservation initiatives in the zoo and fieldwork in the wild.
Cool off at the Acqua Village water parks
For cooling down in the summer, a water park is one of the best things to do in Tuscany. Acqua Village’s pair of parks, in Follonica and Cecina are great places for that. Along with the usual pools and slides—here with Hawaiian names and themes—the Follonica park has a new food area with a show cooking kitchen that lets the whole family watch their meals being prepared.
Fun with Children at Events in Tuscany
Go back to medieval times during the Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo
Who doesn’t like some good old-style medieval jousting? The Giostra del Saracino, on the second-to-last Saturday of June and the first Sunday in September, is a full-day event. It has hundreds of colourful characters and costumes, dozens of horses, several canon salutes, and, of course, the jousting itself.
Enjoy the Giugno Pisano festivities in Pisa
As the name suggests, this cluster of events takes place in June in celebration of the historical events and traditions of Pisa. It kicks off on 16 June with the Luminara, a festival of some 70,000 wax candles set in glasses and affixed to wooden frames that are modelled to create the outline of palaces, bridges, churches, and even the leaning tower, all set up so that their reflections glimmer on the surface of the Arno River.
The following day, the Regatta di San Ranieri honours the city’s patron saint with a colourful boat race. A week later, on the last Saturday of the month, the Battle re-creates a medieval tug-of-war on the city’s central bridge.
Watch the brave barrel rollers of Montepulciano
The annual Bravìo delle Botti race, held on the last Sunday of August, is a rollicking, rolling good time. Teams from the eight condradas (divisions) of Montepulciano roll heavy, empty wine barrels—80 kilos each—uphill 1,800 meters along the main streets of the beautiful, historic city centre to the Piazza Grande. The competitors wear colourful, period clothes, and there’s a festive procession before the race and a street banquet afterwards.
Where to stay in Tuscany with kids ?
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Looking for other ideas for vacationing with kids ? Check our next article on where to take kids on holiday according to their age.