In his Inferno, Dante describes 4 infernal rivers. The Acheron, which separates the limbo from hell proper, The Styx, where the wrathful are, then the Cocytus and the Phlegeton, where the traitors and the violent, respectively, spend eternity. Unlike the Cocytus, which is frozen, the Phlegeton is a river of boiling blood, so hot that in ancient mythology was believed to have given birth to volcanic lava.
I have always loved the Divine comedy (in Italy, we study it in school) but the reason I am mentioning these rivers has nothing to do with literature or with the fact that I am in Dante’s hometown. One of these infernal rivers has given its name to the heat wave that is currently making Italy boil: Phlegeton.
Florence is notoriously hot in the summer: located in a valley surrounded by hills, its summers usually bring temperatures around the 35 degrees mark, but this year the heat is much more pronounced than usual: Phlegeton (or Flegetonte as it is called here) is bringing temperatures of 37 – 38 degrees C in the shade and you might not think so, but these 3 additional degrees make a huge difference. It is, honestly, extremely hot.
Florence with kids
With these kind of temperatures it is important to stay protected from the sun and find parts of the city where you can cool down. So we took our cue from the locals and headed to the pool.
In Florence, there are many swimming pools and in the last few days we tried a few of them, two in Florence city and one on the hills just outside the city. Here is what we thought of them.
Family friendly swimming pools, Florence
This is the first family friendly swimming pool we have tried, after reading great reviews about it on numerous Florentine websites.
The swimming pool is inside Parco delle Cascine, a big green area beside Florence historical centre, and in terms of location and grounds is absolutely gorgeous. The main building, where the reception and the cafe are, is a typical Tuscan villa and the actual pools are beautiful. The main one has deep water and is perfect for swimming and the smaller one, connected with the first one, is shallower (about 120 cm) and suitable for children.
The pool has a reasonably well-stocked cafe and in principle is the perfect place for a relaxing day, but, unfortunately, there is one element that, for us, was a big downside: junior summer camps.
In the summer, le Pavoniere offers junior summer camps, so that teens and pre-teens can get some protection from the sun and some fun while the parents are at work. While the camp is a great idea for the participants, for everyone else it means it is impossible to sit anywhere in or out of the water without someone bomb diving on top of you.
The pool staff tries their best to get the children to follow some basic rules of respect, but their screams usually just add to the noise of the place. Honestly, for us the overall experience was positive and the kids loved the mess, but it was very very far from the calm and relaxing place we had seen advertised.
So I’d say the pool is recommended for:
– families with children who are at ease with water and crowds (no babies)
– families with older children
Via della Catena 2, Cascine Park, Florence, 055/362233
A bit overwhelmed by le Pavoniere, on the following day we tried a pool that is more local to us: piscina Costoli. This pool is the biggest in Florence and it is part of a sport complex which also has a stadium and rugby grounds. The swimming complex has 3 pools: an Olympic size one, a diving pool and a third pool for kids, with degrading water. The pool for kids is where we spent most of the time and is absolutely perfect: it is itself divided into different areas and you have water that goes from a couple of cm deep, perfect even for babies, to 120 cm, the perfect depth to learn how to swim.
The complex is very big and while there are no chairs or beds on the side of the pool you can either lay your towel there or use the beds and the tables on the shady lawns surrounding the pools. The complex is very much sport oriented and this means that is functional rather than beautiful but there is everything you need, including big changing rooms, showers and a reasonably well-stocked cafe.
We loved it and if you are traveling with kids this is by far, in my opinion, the best option. Incidentally, it is also a few blocks away from and amazing gelateria, Badiani (more about it later).
Address: Viale Pasquale Paoli, Florence, 055/9061591 Perfect for anyone who wants to swim in an Olympic size pool, families with children
POOL CAMPING POGGIO AGLI UCCELLINI (outside of Florence)
This third swimming pool is one we heard about from our home exchangers and one of those places we would have probably never found had it not been for the advice of locals. It is not in Florence proper but on the hills surrounding the city, a short drive away from le cure or Fiesole (car is essential).
The swimming pool is open to the public, but it’s part of a campsite called poggio degli ucellini. The campsite is rated with 2 stars and indeed it’s a basic, a no frills kind of place, but it has absolutely all you may ask for: there are 2 pools, one for adults (water 160 cm) and one for kids (water 60 cm), a cafe with lovely cold and hot food, a shady playground and it’s surrounded by luscious woods the florentine countryside is famous for.
We spent here a long afternoon and it was truly a lovely place: only locals camp here, the only language you hear is Italian and the staff is exceptionally nice and helpful. To give you an idea: we left 40 cents on the table, by mistake, and they ran after us to make sure we got them back!
This place is the perfect antidote to more touristy spots and paradise for kids: we can’t praise them enough.
Do you know other family friendly swimming pools in Florence? Phlegeton will be relentless for a few more days so advice will be welcome on how to escape!