Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Italy Vacation Ideas for Every Age

Brook Wilkinson | February 5, 2016

When it comes to family-friendly destinations, Italy is near the top of the list—and not just because of all the pasta and gelato. Italians, explains Mara Solomon, our Trusted Travel Expert for Italy Villa Vacations, simply love kids (but really, is there anything they’re not passionate about?). They’ll welcome your rambunctious toddler into their restaurant, pinch your baby on the cheeks, give your teen all the free samples of local cheeses she can handle. “Italians acknowledge, care about, and celebrate children,” says Mara.

That said, not every part of Italy is perfect for every age. Mara offers five examples of where you might not want to take your kids, and a better alternative for each.

For Young Kids

Don’t…

Expect a relaxed beach vacation on the Amalfi Coast; all those picturesque cliffs lack childproofing. If your kid isn’t old enough to reliably obey your instructions, you’re sure to be stressed. Plus, the best beaches are always a long walk or a boat ride away from wherever you’re staying.

Instead…

Base yourself in Lucca, and get your sun and sand in the towns of Forte dei Marmi, Pietra Santa, Viareggio, all of which have sandy beaches that gradually give way to gentle surf. Lucca itself is a flat city, and you can easily circumnavigate the old town on bikes without worrying about losing track of the kids.

Don’t…

Risk losing your kid in Venice. It’s hard enough for adults to find their way around this maze of a city; imagine trying to retrieve a four-year-old who zipped around a corner ahead of you and now is nowhere in sight.

Instead…

Wait a few years; there’s simply no other place like Venice. Mara recommends the city to families with kids seven and up. She encourages them to arrive by train, telling the parents to hustle out of the station first, camera in hand, so that they can capture that magical moment when their kids truly grasp a city where the roads are made of water.

For Sporty Families

Don’t…

Plan to get around by bike in Tuscany. They’re called hill towns for a reason—you’ll be sweating for your groceries, either with offspring who leave you in the dust or groan about all the hills you’re making them climb.

Instead…

Head to Lake Como for waterskiing, wakeboarding, hiking, canyoning, and plenty of other ways to keep your kids’ veins running with adrenaline. For more mellow multigenerational groups, Mara recommends a kayaking-and-walking day trip from Bellagio, paddling around the point in boats and then re-crossing the peninsula on foot.

For the Overscheduled, Media-Obsessed Teen

Milan Italy

Introduce your teen to Milan’s vibrant café scene—where the people-watching will give them something to look at besides their phone screen. Photo: woerpel/Flickr

Don’t…

Drop your family in the countryside and then pack your days with outings to stave off teenage boredom.

Instead…

Spend an entire week in Milan or Naples, with little on the agenda other than coffee-drinking and people watching. Teens are attracted to things that feel relevant to their lives, and these two modern, vibrant cities fit the bill without feeling overrun by tourists, according to Mara. “There are plenty of ways to engage kids in the countryside,” she says, “but if you want a sure bet with teens, give them an urban environment with lots of time to people-watch, eat, and drink. I’m a huge advocate for not overscheduling your family, and spending enough time to really make a connection with a place.”

For Wine Connoisseurs

Don’t…

Pack your days with vineyard visits, even if there are bocce courts or hobby horses to keep your kids occupied at the wineries. Mara is a believer in travel as a way to bring families together, not separate them.

Instead…

Do as the locals would, and don’t drink without food—an excellent example to set for kids, by the way. Mara can arrange for a sommelier and chef to come to your villa and present a menu of local dishes paired with regional wines. The sommelier will help you understand how the two go together, and their guidance can be calibrated to any level of experience.

 

To find the right Italian villa for your family, reach out to Mara Solomon.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know. 

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