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Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

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London, UK
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Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

We're off to Florence next week (4th Jan 2012) with our three kids - 7, 11, 15.

Can anyone tell me how geared up the museums and art galleries are to kids? What can we expect? Are there appropriate audio guides, kids trails etc in English? The private guides appear really expensive (for a family of five) but maybe someone has expererience of a good kid friendly company. My recollection is that the Italians used not to be very good at presentation generally in museums and at historical sites etc. It's been some years since i was in Italy, has this changed?

We are staying in an appartment on Santa Croce - so any good and reasonable eating options also reccommended.

All advice gratefully received.

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

you will be going to Vivoli for ice cream at some point -- it is in the small streets just off the foot of Santa Croce square and has really good stuff

just up that same street in the little square a block or so up from Vivoli there is a sandwich window Antica Noe under the passageway which has great porchetta sandwiches -- I always get it plain and a half sandwich -- you an get them with all sorts of ingredients and they are big enough to split among kids -- inexpensive and excellent

I didn't notice 'kid trails' or any of that in Florence museums -- audio guides always have multiple languages. you might get Rick Steve's guide to museums to prepare to show the kids around -- it is as the euphemism goes 'accessible'

London, UK
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2. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

Thanks. I had heard of Vivoli - it's in my guide book - and no doubt my eldest would have sniffed that one out in any event!

Having looked at the museum websites it is really disappointing at how little information there is for families about neogtiating these huge collections - or indeed anyone. We're very spoilt in London!

Still, if anyone out there has any other advice - i heard there was somewhere that had working models of da Vinci's inventions - please do post.

Olympia, Washington
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3. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

We loved the Galileo Museum just to the east of the Uffizi. New signage that is is in English and Italian and the display of early scientific tools, early astrolabes and sextants for navigating at sea along with the early telescopes are very visual and totally different than the other museums. If your kids like science this is the place! Afterwards you can take them through the Santa Croce Duomo and show them where Galileo is buried. And, yes, the museum has his finger (in a glass jar) that was cut off when he refused to recant and say that the sun revolved around the earth. Perhaps you can give the 15 year old the chance to play "tour guide" by giving him/her the "assignment/opportunity" to research Galileo on the internet before you go, and then lead the exploration though the museum with your child teaching the whole family about this turning point in the understanding of our universe, and the man who discovered and published the radical new theory.

Another thing we enjoyed was watching paper making demonstrations on how to make the famous Florentian marbled papers which were done in a number of the fine paper stores. Also the Benedictine Leather School at the abbey behind the Baptistry inside the Santa Croce Duomo is fun for kids and has the best leather goods. Hope the kids may find these of interest.

St Paul, MN
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4. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

"My recollection is that the Italians used not to be very good at presentation generally in museums and at historical sites etc. It's been some years since i was in Italy, has this changed?"

It has improved some since I started visiting Italy in 2005, but on the whole, it's still not very good.

albuquerque
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5. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

Context Travel does some walking tours designed for families with children. You might check their website.

Florence, Italy
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6. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

You absolutely must take your kids to Palazzo Vecchio for one of their secret room tours (or one guided by "Giorgio Vasari" or "Duchess Eleonora di Toledo"). They specialise in activities and things for kids and they are really good! They do them in English throughout the day (1 hour long). They cost just a few euro and include entry into the main part of the Palazzo Vecchio too. It's a big change to what it was several years ago - do check it out: http://www.palazzovecchio-familymuseum.it/

The other museum that specialises in family tours and things for kids is Palazzo Strozzi. They have a very interesting exhibit on right now, you can see more on their site: http://www.palazzostrozzi.org/

London, UK
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7. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

Many thanks for all the advice to date! We had in mind some of the sites and companies mentioned (i'm waiting for a response from Context - has anyone used them?).

I can give you an update on the excellent Palazzo Vecchio - you MUST book touirs well in advance. All the tours are booked up for our visit - the next available is on Monday 9th January. I'm hoping they may have other DIY activities available in English.

Also, it's beyond me why the Italians, who supposedly love kids and large families, make it so difficult for families, especially if you have more than two kids, to engage with all their wonderful art and artefacts. The much lauded Firenze card, brilliant idea but only one child per card carrying adult. Otherwise you need to buy a concessionary ticket at the ticket office (at the Uffizi - the whole point of the card is to avoid the queues!!!!) or buy another card for 50e which makes no economic sense whatsoever. Aggh!

Please keep information and advice coming!

Florence, Italy
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8. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

Don't worry! I see you're from the UK - if you're EU citizens the kids will all be FREE (under 18 years old) at any State Museums (see http://www.uffizi.firenze.it/ ) so it may not be worth getting a Firenze Card - you may want to make a few calculations before getting them.

Palazzo Strozzi is a private museum so pricing is different there.

Palazzo Vecchio has a very good pricing system for families. Kids are only 2 euro, adults are 6 but a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids) is only 16 euro.

About the Palazzo Vecchio, yes it's a good idea to book in advance because groups are no bigger than 10 people and they're really great tours. You might have luck seeing on the day if someone doesn't show up and there's space for you.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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9. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

I wish I'd seen this earlier, I could have sent you a copy of the quizzes I wrote for my kids to help them engage with Florence's treasures better. If you see this send me a personal message with your itinerary and an email address and I'll email you the appropriate quizzes.

St Paul, MN
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10. Re: Visiting Florence with kids - advice please!

"Also, it's beyond me why the Italians, who supposedly love kids and large families, make it so difficult for families, especially if you have more than two kids, to engage with all their wonderful art and artefacts"

Current Italian families are small. The number fo births per woman in her lifetiome in on par with Japan at 1.2. Large Italian familes are a thing of the past (ie more than 2 decades).