This post is part of the travel diary we kept during our three-week holiday in Florence with our kids. It is a love letter to the wonderful area that hosted us, le cure: a corner of Tuscan paradise and the most family friendly part of Florence we could have ever hoped for. If you are wondering where to stay in Florence with children and would love a beautiful, safe, quiet and green corner of town to be your home, this post is for you.
We stayed in ‘le cure’ through a home exchange but identified the following as excellent local accommodation options (please note, these are affiliate link to booking.com)
La freccia rossa kept its promises and with a fast, air-conditioned and all round very pleasant journey, it delivered us safely to Florence.
We got to Florence Santa Maria Novella, the city main train station, at lunchtime and part for the heat and part for the need to drop off our over abundant luggage (bags, buggy and even a car seat… you get the picture!) we leave the exploring aside and head straight to our accommodation.
Our home exchange home is not in the centre of town, but rather in a residential area just to the north of it: le cure.
Le cure is an area tourists do not usually explore but it’s lovely, well connected to the centre of town, family friendly and very close to one of the many marvels that surround Florence: the hills of Fiesole.
Until few hours ago I knew very little about le cure, but a chatty, elderly Florentine woman we met on the train filled this gap in knowledge. She told us that she new le cure well: she described it as a ‘local, very nice, new area‘ and then added that is was ‘only’ built during the XIX century, a time when Florence rapidly expanded.
I know that Florence has a history that goes way beyond that time and, as a classicist, it takes more than a few decades of life for a site to impress me on age alone, but her remark made me smile: I usually think as ‘new’, houses built in the 70s, but I guess if you live in a city where the Middle ages and the Renaissance are kings, the 1800s do feel pretty recent!
As soon as we settle down, we went out exploring. The main landmark in this part of Florence seems to be the Mugnone, a small river crossing the neighbourhood:
Il Mugnone is little more than a brook, but it had a huge importance for this part of town. The name le cure comes from the shortening of the local word ‘le curandaie‘, which were women in charge of ‘curing’ linen textile: le curandaie would take the raw material down to il Mugnone and they would wash and treat the material in such a way to make it softer and whiter. The specificity of the job got lost over time and the name curandaie become the synonym for washer women, but their presence in the Mugnone must have been a staple of this area, which still remembers them with its nomenclature.
I found the view over it very characteristic and pretty, but the kids absolutely loved it. The reason for this is not a precocious love for etymology, but rather the fact that il Mugnone is home of one heron and not one but two ‘nutrie’. Now, I know what you are thinking but please do not jump in horror thinking I lost my mind: they are a bit like rats, I know, but the kids loved to play ‘spot the nutria’ from the bridge and I loved to see their excitement! Il Mugnone’s river bed is very low from street level and the nutrie do not climb up not raid the streets, so they really are harmless. They will not come anywhere near you nor you near them and do offer a good bit of entertainment for young zoologists:-)
After a walk along the river, we brought the kids to the local park: the area Pettini Brunesi. This is a lovely, big green area with a playground and lots and lots of kids: we got there at about 5 and the place was literally full of kids and parents and sitters.
There was a really nice atmosphere and I couldn’t help but think that in a place like this, with warm weather even in the late afternoon, parents can spend time outdoors with their kids even after work. Not something to take for granted.
After the playground we made our way home and wrapped up this first day here. The kids are still talking about the nutrie… will we manage to do anything else apart from nutrie- watching, in the next couple of weeks?
Shops and services: le cure is well served by an array of shops, a well equipped street market, a supermarket, farmacies, post office and banks.
Highlights for kids: as well as the lovely playground, you can have ice cream in Piazza dell Cure or stop for a slice of schiacciata in one of the many bakeries. A lovely shop who is bound to enchant kids and adults alike is the bookshop just beside the Mugnone, a paradise of puzzles, wooden toys and books in Italian and English. In summer, ‘le cure’ also organises its local white night, with street performers, food stalls and shops open until late: it’s a family friendly event the whole neighbourhood loves and a great way to feel part of the local community:make sure you stop and chat with the show owners and join in the crowd dancing to the live music! .
If you want to know more about visiting Florence with children, you can find tips and advice in my Florence mini guide for families.
With this post I participate in #MondayEscapes Linkup