A step by step guide to help you plan your first family trip to Italy. Practical tips for families with children planning a family vacation in Italy and insider notes from a local mom to make the most of your time in Italy.
If you are planning a family trip to Italy, let me tell you: you are in for a real treat.
Italy is every little bit as gorgeous as you think it is, possibly even more, and exceptionally welcoming when it comes to catering for children and families.
However, you probably know this already and you are not here to be told again how much your kids will enjoy gelato!
Chances are, the reason you are here is to find practical and actionable tips to create your family itinerary in Italy, suggestions for family friendly places in Italy and insider tips, which is exactly what I am offering!
By the end of this post, you will feel better equipped to plan a family trip to Italy and you will feel confident your family vacation in Italy will be easy, fun and thoroughly enjoyable.
Why should you take it from me, you may ask? That’s fair! There are a few reasons.
First, I am an Italian mama and I have been vacationing in Italy as a kid and with my own kids pretty much my whole life.
The second reason is: I am an expat mama, so while I know Italy well, I also don’t experience it fully like a local, and need to come up with accommodation and transport solutions like all foreign visitors.
Last but not least, I have a group on Facebook called ‘Travel Italy with kids‘ where I chat about Italy family vacations all the time, so I believe I have a good grasp of the questions you might have when planning your first trip to Il Bel Paese with children in tow.
Ready to start planning your family trip to Italy? Let’s go
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
The best time to visit Italy with family
If you are traveling with kids chances are you are bound to school holidays and have limited choice on when to go to Italy.
This is not necessarily a problem: Italy can be visited all year round and unless you have specific wishes for your stay such as going to the islands or skiing, you don’t need to worry about the weather stopping you.
However, if you have the freedom to go any time of the year, these are the best times for visiting Italy.
Best overall time to visit Italy as a family: Spring
Spring is by far the best time for a family trip to Italy. At this time the weather is mild and kids can enjoy the many city parks and piazzas of Italy without fearing a sunstroke or overheating.
This is the best time to visit Italy for sightseeing and the only downside is the crowds.
Especially during the Easter holidays, Italy is full of tourists (international and local) and prices are at a premium.
Advance booking for all attractions and accommodation is a must.
Best time to visit Italy for hot weather and beach lovers: summer
Summers are hot in Italy and you should only plan a trip at this time if you don’t mind the heat and are planning on being on the beach (or the mountains) rather than go sightseeing.
July and August, in particular, are hot and humid, crowded and especially August is the month when Italians go away, making the country less authentic than at any other time.
Best time for sightseeing and outdoor play: autumn
Like spring, fall is a good time to visit Italy with kids as you can mix sightseeing with outdoor playtime.
The South and center of Italy are the most pleasant at this time while the North tends to get chillier earlier in the season.
Fall is high season in Rome but reasonably low season in other parts of Italy so this is a good option for many travelers interested in avoiding the crowds.
Best time to avoid the crowds: winter
With the exception of the Christmas weeks (and carnival week in Venice), which are really busy, winter is low season in Italy and a good time to visit if you want to get lower prices and avoid the crowds.
The issue of planning a trip to Italy with kids at this time is that time outdoors will be limited as days are short and rain is frequent.
This is a good time to visit Italy with older kids who may be happy visiting museums and indoor attractions.
The good news is that gelato is commonly sold in winter too!
Planning a family trip to Italy: FAQ and tips
In this section of the post, I answer some of the most common questions and concerns when it comes to planning a family vacation in Italy.
Do I need to speak Italian to visit Italy with kids?
One of the biggest worries for first time visitors to Italy is the language, a worry so big it deters many from going to the country. Italians are known for not speaking great English but don’t let this stop you.
You absolutely do not need to speak Italian to visit Italy.
However, a few things are worth keeping in mind.
People in less touristy destinations, smaller villages and of older generations usually do not have English. If you are heading to a local place off the tourist track to trace your family origins, for instance, it will come in handy to have some Italian.
Making an effort to speak the language goes a long way. Even just learning your ‘Grazie’ (thank you), Buongiorno (Hello / Good Morning) and similar will gain you many friends.
‘No grazie’ in a firm tone will also help you take at bay street vendors or the occasional unrequited attention.
Traveling with kids I also feel you can do with some extra sentences in case you need something for them or need help.
For this, I recommend you keep a small Italian phrasebook handy at all times – make it pocket size and hard copy so you don’t have to worry about connection or phone battery to die at the worse moment if relying on an app!
How many days to see Italy with family?
I almost didn’t put this paragraph in as the answer is: whatever number of days you have!
Italy is crammed with places worth seeing and you can easily spend weeks here and still miss out on important sites.
However, to give you an idea, this is an outline of how many days I believe you need to make a trip to Italy worthwhile.
If you have 3 days in Italy
With 3 days in Italy you can see 1 main city (E.g. Rome) or
You can visit one city and add a day trip (Venice + Lake Garda, Florence + Tuscan Countryside, Milan + Lake Como)
If you have 5 days in Italy
With 5 days in Italy you can visit up to 2 or 3 cities (at a stretch). If you don’t mind a whistle stop tour, you can for instance see Rome (2 days), Florence (1 day), Venice (2 days)
Or you can mix a city visit with exploring a specific area such as Tuscany, the Amalfi coast or (part of ) Sicily.
Even better, you can base yourself in a specific area and take time to explore.
While this may not be suitable if this is your one and only family trip to Italy, this is probably the best way to get a sense for the most authentic side of the country.
If you have 10 days ore more in Italy
With 10+ days in Italy, you can do a lot!
If you want to see as much as you can you can, follow this 10 day classic Italy itinerary or you can hone is on a certain area and truly get to know it.
To first timers, I recommend you settle in the area between Tuscany and Umbria for easy access to most locations or set out to explore Sicily.
To give you an idea of distances
- Rome- Florence: 1h30mins – 2h by train
- Rome- Venice: 3h30mins – 4 hours
- Rome- Milan: 3h15min – 3h30min
- Milan-Venice: 2h3mins
- Florence-Venice: 2.15h
- Florence – Cinque Terre: 2h30mins
- Rome-Pompei: 2h
- Rome- Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, easiest getaway by train): 2h30mins
- Rome – Taormina (Sicily) is an overnight train journey
You can find all the Italy itineraries we recommend here.
How much in advance should I book accommodation and attractions in Italy?
I recommend you book accommodation and attractions as soon as you have your travel dates confirmed.
Main attractions such as the Colosseum, Last Supper etc book out weeks in advance and it is paramount to get your tickets early.
Always opt for skip the line or reserved entrance tickets to avoid hours of wait.
Where to buy tickets for Italy main attractions
Later in this post you will find guides that are specific to each city, with the best options for tickets in each location.
This is a quick summary of useful addresses and my go-to website to book Italy’s main attractions:
- Colosseum Tour and Forum reserved time entrance (official site, not specifically for families), Rome
- Family tour of Colosseum and ancient Rome (by Global Dream via Get Your Guide), Rome
- Vatican Family Tour (by Global Dream via get Your Guide), Vatican City, Rome
- Vatican reserved entrance (official site, not specific for families), Vatican city, Rome
- Last Supper entrance (official site, not specifically for families), Milan
- Uffizi Gallery (official site, not specific for families), Florence
- Doges’ palace (official site, not specifically for families) Venice
Entering Italy with kids: documents and visas for families
Italy is part of the European Union and a signatory of the Schengen Agreement, which allows freedom of movement of people in a large part of the European Union.
The documents needed to enter Italy depend on your nationality and passport: to make sure you comply with immigration regulations, please get in touch with your nearest embassy / consulate to have an up to date list of documentary requirements.
A few things that are important to keep in mind, no matter your nationality.
Traveling to Italy alone with a child
If traveling alone to Italy with a child with a surname different than yours, make sure you have official proof of your relationship with them such as a birth cert with your name as the mother / father / guardian and supporting documents proving you are allowed to cross borders with them.
These documents will be requested at border control and you may be denied entrance / departure if you cannot supply them (this is an anti- trafficking measure).
Please check with the relevant authorities to get up to date information on your specific situation.
Passports should have at least six months remaining validity beyond your departure date.
Please always check with the relevant authorities well in advance of your trip (I recommend a few months) for updates on this rule or should any additional requirement apply to your specific circumstances.
In Italy it is compulsory to always have ID on you. Make sure you always have on you he original or a copy of ID documents for you and your children.
Planning a family trip to Italy: arrival
Arriving in Italy by plane: main airports + airport transfer services
Italy is served by a large number of airports for both national and international flights. The most popular airports for international travelers are:
Roma Leonardo da Vinci (aka Fiumicino, FCO): This is a large, well equipped airport about 40 minutes out of Rome. The airport is connected to the city by train, bus and taxis (you can find a complete guide here).
Milano Malpensa (MPX): A large airport serving Milan and the North West of Italy. Malpensa is far from Milan city center and connected to it by taxi, bus and train as well as private transfer options.
Orio al Serio Bergamo (BGY) This is a small airport made busy by the many Ryanair flights serving the area. This is a popular airport for internal European flights to the North of Italy and the Milan area in particular with good bus connections.
Arriving in Italy by train
Italy has land borders with several European countries, many connected to Italy by a good railway system.
The best website to check international train connections to and from Italy is Omio (formerly GoEuro), where you can check connections and buy tickets not just for trains but also for train and buses solutions.
Arriving in Italy by boat
Italy is a popular destination for cruisers and arriving by sea can be a wonderful way to visit the country.
The country has too many cruise ports for a full list to fit in this post but I will give you a list of the ones receiving the largest cruise lines with a link to relevant transport service between the port and city for convenience if relevant
- Rome (Civitavecchia) transfer from cruise port to the city
- Venice, transfer from cruise port to city hotels
- Naples port to Pompeii (return transfer)
- Livorno: transfers available to Florence or Lucca and Pisa
- Genoa port to city center is a distance best covered by local taxi (it is very short)
Money in Italy: currency, exchange, credit cards etc
The currency of Italy is the Euro.
Withdrawing cash in Italy
You can exchange currency before arrival in your home country and I always recommend you do so, at least for a small amount to get by the first couple of days.
Once in Italy, you can withdraw money on arrival from ATMs, which saves you from walking around with large sums of cash, something you should most definitely avoid.
Please check with your bank before departure if your card works in Italy have and check on the ATM that it caters to the specific circuits your specific type of card is connected with (EC, Cirrus, Visa, etc).
I recommend you select ATMs that are attached to a bank (ideally inside their lobby) rather than those you find in shops as these are usually safer and more reliable.
Using credit cards in Italy: what you need to know
Credit cards are accepted in Italy but depending where you are, not quite as widely as you may expect.
Bigger hotels, restaurants and shops do take them but smaller ones or taxis may not be equipped with a credit card machine. Also, credit cards are not commonly accepted for small purchases (gelato).
Always have at least some cash with you.
Using cash in Italy
For small purchases, cash is your best and often only option in Italy.
Notes bigger than 20 Euro usually are frowned upon for small purchases and you may find difficulties getting change – when withdrawing money at the ATM, always try get as small a note as you can.
Tipping in Italy
Tipping is common in Italy at restaurants but the tip amount is usually tiny: a few euro after a meal are more than enough and you do not usually need to tip taxi drivers etc.
How much spending money to bring
This is a very personal consideration and will also depend on how much you have paid in advance (accommodation, tours etc) as well as where in Italy you are.
Money will go a long way in smaller, off the beaten track centers and will dry up very quickly in Venice, Amalfi coast, Taormina etc.
My personal recommendation is to budget at least 150 Euro per day (including meals out). You can read a guide about the cost of a trip to Italy here
Cash? How about pickpockets?
Every time I recommend people to have cash on them I get conscious of the possible risks attached to this tip.
Carrying large sums of cash is never a good idea anywhere and Italy is no exception: pickpockets do exist in crowded areas and being vigilant is a must.
However, Italy is not the jungle as some simple things can help keep you safer:
- Only carry the cash you think you need
- Do not keep your wallet in your back pocket or standard backpack: opt for a crossbody bag or anti theft backpack
- Don’t leave a bad unattended, not even on the chair beside you in the restaurant or on the bench at the playground
- Don’t flash gold or overly expensive gear
How to find family accommodation in Italy
Italy offers a plethora of family accommodation options, to suit all family types and budgets.
How to choose a family hotel in Italy and need to know
Italy has a staggering amount of hotels and families on a budget will be happy to know the standard is usually quite high, even without picking a 4 or 5 star category hotel.
However, hotels in Italy can pose challenges to families and in particular:
Smaller establishments and older properties may not be equipped with a lift. Many historic properties have now been refurbished to accommodate lifts but especially in smaller hotels it is worth asking if traveling with a stroller to avoid surprises.
Large families may find themselves in trouble looking for suitable rooms as many hotels have a 3 – max 4 people occupancy rule. This has to do with fire regulations and the hotels have no flexibility in allowing you in. Please do not book for 3 hoping to sneak in your youngest child (no judgement, just practical observation) as you will be refused a stay.
My go to website for family accommodation in Italy is booking.com which allows yo to put in the exact number of guests and the age of your kids to book the most suitable options.
Consider also checking Hotels Combined, which compares prices on different booking engines allowing you to get the best deal.
Hotels in Italy has several names including hotel, albergo, pensione, foresteria etc, the last ones usually denoting smaller, family run establishments although I see the names used almost interchangeably.
All inclusive family hotels in Italy
Italy is better equipped with small, independent hotels than with all inclusive solutions and resorts but there are still some very good options for families looking for an all inclusive vacation in Italy.
- A good selection of several types of resort options in Italy is here
- Consider the Kinderhotel brand for excellent family accommodation and packages in mountain settings
- Look into Azzurro Club which offers all inclusive beach resorts in several locations on the Italian coast
- Check out Eurocamp that offers lovely all inclusive, family friendly camping options
- You can also find independent all inclusive family oriented campsites such as Paradu Resort (Tuscany).For these independent solutions, my go to website is booking.com – input ‘resort’ in the search bar
Italy family accommodation: country homes, agriturismo
A wonderful type of accommodation for families visiting Italy is the quintessential Italian stay in a country home or Agriturismo (plural: agriturismi)
Agritursimo is the name given to a country home that has opened its doors to guests.
They became a very popular accommodation option over 20 years ago and both Italians and foreigners love them as they usually offer good prices, charm and great food in countryside locations.
Agriturismi are exceptionally popular with families as they often have a working farm on premises and allow the children to have some time in nature.
Agriturismi come in all shapes and sizes, some basic and some upscale and you can book them via booking.com (select: country homes and specialty lodging) or the local Italian site agriturismo.it
This is an exceptionally family friendly accommodation solution and something I highly recommend families planning a vacation in Italy should consider.
Staying in a villa in Italy as a family
A private villa is a popular option for families too.
The country offers many options to suit most budgets and you can find private villas almost anywhere along the Italian peninsula, with a vast concentration in the center of the country in regions such as Tuscany and Umbria.
My go to place for villa rentals in Italy is Home Away Italy (you can select you language clicking on the flat at the top right corner of their homepage) which has a great selection of different home / villa accommodation options in Italy.
Please note that unlike in the US, swimming pools in villas and homes in Italy are usually not fenced.
Using Airbnb in Italy
AirBnb is very common in Italy and a good option especially for families who may need the convenience of self catering facilities and space. When selecting a suitable Airbnb in Italy, please take into account:
Stairs /lifts as especially older properties may not have them
Balconies: many older Italian houses have small balconies that can pose a risk to small children
Facilities: Italian homes are usually less equipped than let’s say US ones. For instance, you are unlikely to find a clothes dryer (careful if doing laundry on the go) and you do not always have air conditioning.
Make sure you ask before you book if these are important to you.
Accommodation in Italy, need to know
When booking accommodation in Italy foreigners are usually taken aback by a few things, all normal in Italy.
- Payment by bank transfer / wire. This is very normal in Italy and not per se a dodgy practice
- The hotel takes a copy of your passport. Again this is normal and a law requirement in Italy
- Most places apply a nightly tourist tax on top of your bill (again, this is a legal requirement)
Best way to get around Italy with children in tow
The best ways to get around Italy as a family are car, train and plane, the choice depending very much on the area you want to visit.
Getting around Italy by car
Unless you only want to explore cities (in which case, the train is your friend), the easiest way to travel around Italy with children is to rent a car.
To get an idea of options and prices, you can check the Auto Europe website which allows you to compare easily car options and prices with different providers.
If you are worried about driving in Italy, don’t be!
Here are some tried and tested tips and advice on how to stay safe on the road, despite the Italians terrible reputation for driving (undeserved, in my opinion).
Renting a car in Italy with children: car seat rules
When renting a car in Italy make sure you abide by the country’s rules about use of car seats. All children smaller than 150cm in Italy must use a car seat, the exact specs depending on the age and size of the child.
It is good to know that while rental cars offer all types of seats (at a cost) rear facing seats for small children are very hard to come by and you may be given a high back booster seat instead.
If traveling with a baby I recommend you consider bringing your own seat or make very specific arrangements with the car rental agency.
For older kids, car seats are easily booked but tend to be expensive and you never know how well they have been kept.
Using taxi and Uber in Italy with kids in tow
Short local journeys can be done by taxi or uber.
Please stay advised than on Uber car seats are compulsory (and usually not provided) while on taxis car seats are not a legal requirement.
You need to bring your own if ill at east with a lap infant or using the taxi seat belts.
Getting around Italy by train with kids in tow
Train is an excellent mean of transport in Italy and families have some advantages such as discounts and special seating on some trains (Italo).
The biggest Italian cities are connected by high speed trains: these trains require booking and you get assigned seats.
Smaller localities are connected by regional and local trains: tickets for these can be bought on the day and must be validated before boarding to make them valid (fines for non compliance are common).
Italy internal flights
Internal flights can be a good option if you want to visit let’s say Sicily and Milan in a matter of days.
Both Alitalia and low cost airlines cover Italian internal journeys. Just be advised that transport from smaller airports may be limited: make sure you factor in the cost of a taxi or arrival if relevant.
Italy with kids: where to go – most popular areas
The hardest part of planning a trip to Italy with kids is without a doubt deciding where to go.
I am a huge believer that you don’t need to change your destinations to suit your kids only and they can enjoy whatever place you have on your dream list of places to see in your lifetime.
However, I do think that it is useful to have specialized tips and guides to make traveling with kids in Italy easier.
Here are resources for the most popular places to visit in Italy.
Best Italian cities to visit with kids
Rome: best place for iconic sites, history and big city vibes
Rome is wonderful to visit with kids of all ages and it is the perfect place to visit if you want to bring the kids to iconic sites such as the colosseum, sure to leave them in awe.
Rome is my hometown and you can check all my tips for visiting with kids at the following links:
- Full guide to Rome with kids
- Best areas to stay in Rome with kids (with a selection of hotels)
- Best family restaurants in Rome
- Things to do in Rome with kids, tweens and teens
Florence: best place for art, shopping and access to the countryside
Florence is wonderful and the best place in Italy for families who want to mix a comfortable city stay with day trips to the country.
Venice: best for art and wonder of the world charm
Venice is unique in the world and a real treat for kids who find its canals and water buses mind blowing. Venice is surprisingly easy to visit with kids and a lot less hard to explore with them that it may seem.
- Find our full guide to visiting Venice with kids here
- Find our recommended Venice hotels for families here
Milan: best for shopping, museums and day trips
Milan doesn’t get a lot of attentions as a family destination but it is a really nice city to visit with family (it has great museums and parks) and a good base to check out the area of Lake Como and even parts of Switzerland.
It is also a nice destination if you want to mix family time with world class shopping for both adults and kids.
Other popular areas in Italy that you can visit with kids
In no particular order, these are some of the most popular non city destinations in Italy that you may want to include when visiting with kids
Cinque Terre: best for family hiking and coastal villages
This is one of the most popular destinations in the whole of Italy, most famous for hiking trails, colorful villages and vertigo inducing views over plunging cliffs.
While not the most obvious destination for a family trip, this is a wonderful area to explore: if you have Cinque Terre on your Italy bucket list, you do not need to skip it because you have kids in tow.
All you need is some planning: find all you need in our family guide to Cinque Terre here
Tuscany: best for countryside, hilltop villages, art and beach time
Tuscany is a perfect all around destination, exceptionally well suited to family tourism.
Here you have charming cities, incredible art, hilltop villages where kids are free to roam in traffic free piazzas and a wonderful coastline, as well as active vacation options (horse riding, beach activities etc).
Amalfi coast: best for coastal views, Pompeii and island hopping
The Amalfi coast is one of the most scenic areas of Italy, chosen by many as a backdrop for weddings and honey moons.
It is not the easiest area to explore with kids due to winding roads, almost vertical towns and small coves but with some good planning it can be visited with children in tow.
The best places to base yourself to visit the coast is Sorrento (big and well served by transport) or Amalfi, Maiori and Ravello.
Positano, while wonderful, is hard to negotiate with kids since it is pretty much on a vertical cliff!
This is a wonderful area to explore with kids especially if you stretch to Capri, Pompeii or wonderful Ischia.
Sicily: best for sun, history and food
If you want to mix sightseeing with a sea and sun vacation with family, you cannot go wrong with Sicily.
You will need a car to visit but, if you take the time to explore this island, your driving will be rewarded with incredible scenery, gorgeous food (cannoli anyone?) and incredible beaches suitable for all ages.
Dolomites: best place in Italy for active families
If you have very active kids or love to hike (and ski in winter) the best place to go in Italy are the Dolomites (Alps). These are a gorgeous area and one that is very well served with hotels both in summer and winter.
Lesser known, up and coming family destinations in Italy
Italy is all touristy but some areas are still more known to locals than foreigners (or at least, some localities in each area are!)
Lazio: best alternative to Tuscany for small village charm
Tuscany is special but if you want to get away from the crowds and get a more local feel, consider heading to Lazio instead.
This is the region around Rome and it is a great base to discover central Italy and to relax in small towns and authentic village: check our Bagnoregio and Tuscania (countryside), Martignano (lakes) and the area of Sabaudia and Sperlonga (sea).
Puglia: best for sun drenched villages, sea and sun
Compared with other areas in this list Puglia is a newcomer in terms of getting international tourism but it is quickly catching up thanks to its stunning villages and even more stunning coastline.
While growing in notoriety at a fast pace, this is still a place with a lot of local tourism and one where you can easily get away from the maddening crowds.
Sardinia: best for sea and sun with kids
Sardinia is an exceptionally popular destination but one that can still cater for off the beaten track tourism.
This is a wonderful region to visit if you are more interested in sea and sun than city exploring – with children, places to consider are Castel Sardo, San Teodoro, Alghero, Villasimius and Capitana.
Marche: best under the radar destination
One of the most underrated of all regions in Italy, le Marche are a wonderful place for families offering lovely beaches, nice towns and proximity to the mountains.
Pesaro and Urbino are gorgeous town to discover and if you want wonderful beaches, look no farther than Riviera del Conero.
Just don’t tell anyone or everyone will flock here!!
Best family activities in Italy (classes and tours)
Italy offers many options to families interested in cultural tourism and learning about its dearest traditions and history.
Some ideas of family activities to do in Italy with kids:
Family treasure hunt in Italian cities
A fun way to get the kids interested in city exploring, is to book a treasure hunt that is just for them.
Family cooking classes (several locations) and food tours
Food is a huge tradition in Italy and many places cater for families so your kids can partake into this side of Italian culture too.
Some classes such as the one by Convivio Rome (just outside the city) cater for families with older children and teens while some providers cater for kids specifically offering, for instance, a pizza class for kids in Rome (our review here) or cooking classes for children in Florence.
If your kids love food, check out the Taste of Sorrento Tour by Gourmet Girls, who also offer tours to for families (something not all food tours do)
Family guided tours (several locations)
Several providers in Italy provide guided tours that cater specifically to families.
Both offer tours in other locations too.
Mosaic making class (Rome)
Mosaic making is an ancient technique that you will encounter often in Italy.
A fantastic activity for kids is to join a real mosaic artisan and learn what it takes to create these masterpieces.
This is one of my favorite things to do in Italy with kids and you can read my full review here
Glass-making class (Venice)
Venice and the island of Murano, in particular, are famous for glass blowing and glass art.
Taking a workshop in this area is a special way to get in touch with this unique form of art and allow the kids to have a fun and educational hands-on experience.
You can find info and prices here
Arts workshops and camps
Italy offers many opportunities to keep inquisitive kids and families entertained, too many for me to list in any satisfactory fashion in this post.
Rather, I will share with you the name of a provider I trust and that has a wonderful selection of tours in Italy such as the mosaic tour I mentioned above: Arte al Sole, which I hope you will check out.
(I make no commission if you book with them but if you want to mention you heard about them from me, that would be cool, I like to be on people’s good books!)
Eating in Italy with kids
Italy poses few challenges to people traveling with kids.
Italian food is known all over the world, children are likely to be at least somewhat familiar with it and the taste is much better than anywhere else in the world but usually recognizable.
However, there are a few things worth knowing when eating in Italy with kids.
Italy meal times
Italians tend to eat later than many and this needs to be taken into account when planning your days.
Breakfast in hotels usually doesn’t start before 7 and doesn’t go much later than 10.00 (depends on the hotel).
Make sure you check and make specific arrangements should you have a tour booked with very early departure.
Read here what you can expect at breakfast in Italy.
Lunch in Italy is usually between 1 and 2.30 and restaurants tend to close in the afternoon.
If you are used, like in the North of Europe, to order a pasta dish in the middle of the afternoon, you may find it hard to find accommodation places and may be limited to very touristy restaurants – handy but usually not the best!
I recommend in this case you go to a local ‘bar’ and get a sandwich or a slice of pizza instead.
Dinner is usually served after 7.30pm, 7pm being the very earliest.
While dinner times stretch until later in the night, we usually do not have dinner after 10pm, time after which coming across a hot meal can be challenging.
Family friendly foods in Italy (and their Italian names)
Italian food usually goes down well will kids and you will find many family favorites being staple dishes in the country.
However, it might not always be easy to spot them on the menu
Here some obvious and less obvious things to order for your kids in Italy.
- Pizza: self explanatory!
- Pasta al Ragu’: what abroad in known and Bolognese (traditional ragu has beef and pork)
- Cotoletta alla Milanese or Milanese: fried chicken
- Polpette: meatballs (beef)
- Pasta al sugo: simple pasta with tomato sauce
- Gelato: when ordering, you will be asked whether you prefer a cono (cone) or coppetta (small take away cup)
Eating in Italy with allergies or a food intolerance
A big worry for people traveling Italy with an allergy is how equipped the country is to cater for a food intolerance.
While this depends on specific needs (please make sure you ask your doctor and get all the support and supplies you may need) Italy is very switched on about food intolerance and deals with well with them.
Italian cuisine is usually made with few ingredients and it is easy to avoid allergens: gluten free dishes are very common (not necessarily gluten free pasta dishes, but the alternatives are many) and so are food for lactose intolerant and people with nut allergies.
Make sure you check menus before ordering and learn the name of your allergen in Italian to be overly sure you are catered for in the right way.
Water safety in Italy (drinking water)
The quality of water in Italy depends on where you are.
In the vast majority of cases tap water is safe and tastes good and this is also the case for the excellent drinking water fountains you find in Rome and other cities and towns.
If you are renting accommodation in a rural area, check with the owner first as some more isolated properties may recommend you get bottled water instead.
Italy with baby: availability of baby products (formula, weaning products) and breastfeeding etiquette
Baby products are readily available in Italy in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Pharmacies in particular offer a wide variety of chemical-free and natural products, usually at the upper end of the market and with matching prices.
Depending on where you are from you will recognize familiar brands (Pampers, Danone etc) side by side with local ones.
Breastfeeding is very popular in Italy and you don’t need to follow any specific etiquette or cover up excessively to do so in public (what makes you comfortable is likely to be ok!)
Medical help and supplies
Medical supplies in Italy are sold in the pharmacy and chemist shops called ‘Farmacie’.
Small medical items such as plasters etc are also available in supermarkets.
If you need emergency help, the two numbers to know are 112 (Europe wide emergency number) and 118 (Italian red cross).
Italy with kids travel essentials
I am a light packer so my Italy travel essentials are not many. However, they are essentials!
- A stroller able to resist cobbled streets
- A baby carrier
- Changing bag / Diaper bag / changing (find some stylish ones here)
- Car seat / booster seat: find our favorite here
- High chair for restaurants: fond our favorite travel ones here
- Proper walking shoes for all (great styles here)
- Water shoes and sandals for pools and seaside
- Sun screen / mosquito repellent for summer
- Italian phrase book
- Tech (phone charger, travel adapter etc)
- Basic first aid kit (see what we usually carry for family first aid here)
Useful websites and apps for Italy travel
I have written extensively about Italy and you will find many articles on this site – just follow the links above beside each destination or use the search bar at the top right corner of this page.
Aside from my resources, useful Italy Travel sites to know are
- Omio – Handy website for Train and Bus connections across Europe
- Booking.com – My go-to resource for accommodation (hotels, apartments and specialty lodging) with good deals and excellent cancellation policies
- LuggageHero – Large selection of luggage storage options for bags-free day trips
- GetYourGuide: booking platform for attraction tickets and day tours
- Lonely Planet: my one and only go-to travel guide provider
- AutoEurope: handy comparison website for the best car rental deals
Great books about Italy for kids
- Mission Rome: a scavenger Hunt adventure
- Theodor’s Italian adventure
- If you were me and lived in Italy
- This is Rome: a children’s classic
- Rome City Trails Lonely Planet Kids
- Florence for kids: a city guide with Pimpa
- This is Venice
I hope you found this overview of tips for planning a family trip to Italy useful. Safe travels!
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