We can’t say enough great things about Lucca, Italy! We are in love with this city as well as with our rental apartment. Leaving here at the end of December will be very hard indeed! In the meantime we are trying to take advantage of every opportunity that Lucca presents including its close proximity to some other fabulous destinations such as “the cradle of the Renaissance”, Florence. After spending a few days studying the Italian Renaissance and the Medici Family in home school we hopped on a bus and headed to Florence to experience in person some of the sights that we had read about.
After our very busy week in Rome we just weren’t up for a jam packed schedule of sightseeing, so instead we concentrated our efforts on the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Palazzo Vecchio. Thankfully this was all be planned because the wonders of these two sights was more than enough!
We had prepared for the trip by watching The Medici – Godfathers of the Renaissance and were all very excited to see Filippo Brunelleschi’s famous dome, but none of us were prepared for the sheer size and beauty of the Basilica. We stood in Piazza del Duomo for a very long time marveling at the amazing artistry of the building. The kids loved pointing out details that they discovered in the façade. Finally we tore ourselves away from the view to enter the church and gaze up at the magnificent dome. Watching a video prior to the trip on Brunelleschi’s design and construction of the dome really helped give the kids an idea of the engineering marvel that they were staring up at.
It was just a short walk from the Basilica to the Palazzo Vecchio where the kids were excited to tour the rooms where the Medici had once lived. The museum offers some really great activities geared towards children including a Family Kit that can be borrowed for 5 Euros. The kit, which comes in an adorable tortoise backpack (the tortoise was a symbol of the Medici family), includes educational activities for each room of the museum as well as other fun surprises such as binoculars and costumes. The Younger Fives had a blast exploring the museum with something designed especially for kids, and we all learned a few things that we otherwise wouldn’t have.
Believe it our not these two activities along with a stop for pizza and gelato took up our entire day. We didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what there is to do and see in Florence, but for now this was enough and begin only a short bus ride away we can always head back another day.
Fives’ Facts for Visiting Florence with Kids:
– Make sure to check your backpacks, pocketbooks, diaper bags, etc. after buying your tickets at the Palazzo Vecchio. The guards on the first floor of the museum can be super fickle about what is or isn’t allowed inside. It is way easier to check everything ahead of time instead of being sent back to check a pocketbook that they think looks too big.
– Order take out pizza and enjoy it in one of the piazzas. Many pizzerias will charge you a steep fee to sit at a table and also charge you if you share a pizza. What’s wrong with sharing 😦
– Make sure to plan your departure from the city around rush hour (4:30pm – 6:30pm). Sitting on a bus for an hour just trying to get out of the city is no fun, especially with kids. If you have to travel during this time strongly consider taking the train.
– Plan on spending time outside at the Piazza del Duomo just to marvel at the Basilica. This is also a great place for kids to chase pigeons and get rid of some excess energy before heading inside.
– Do not leave Florence without a stopping by Perché No! for a cup of gelato. This place has been operating in Florence since 1939. They had several vegan friendly flavors and we all agreed that this was the best gelato we have tasted so far in Italy.