Bringing Children with you to Italy?
Many people have asked me if it’s OK to travel to Italy with children. My answer? Absolutely! Traveling with children is an adventure. Is it the same as traveling as a couple? Absolutely not! We took our sons to Europe for the first time when my youngest was 4. Yes, we had to adjust our sightseeing and our pace but we had the time of our lives. Italians love children! My sons adored the attention – even when kindly older folks would pinch their cheeks. How did we do it? First, we made sure we saw things that they would enjoy as well as what we wanted to see. We had them explore ruins, walk a lot, took breaks and when there wasn’t anything they wanted to eat fell back on the familiar – pasta and pizza.
Depending on the age of your child will depend on what you can and will do. If you are visiting a museum reduce your time for the younger ones. Find an exhibit that will interest them. We once had a guide who, knowing the age of our children, brought them coloring books on the areas we were going to see. That was a huge hit! Traveling with children in Italy can present some problems. Restrooms can definitely be a problem. Scope out the areas and try to locate them before they are needed. Children tend to be “I need it now!”. If a shop has a bathroom and your child is in dire need please be polite. Some shops may turn you away but on the whole Italians have a special spot in their hearts for children. Restaurants, bars, some shops and fast food places will have restrooms for their guests. Please keep in mind that these places are usually for paying clients or guests. As a thank you please purchase a little something.
Traveling in Italy with children and trains can be a great combination. Children love trains. They will gladly hop on the train with you. However, keep a close eye on them. When it’s time to disembark make sure you have their little hand in yours because they may not want to get off the train. Passengers get off and on very quickly. If you do not have a firm grip on your child’s hand you might find yourself standing on the train platform watching your child wave goodbye to you from the train window.
While we are at home we tend to be aware of our surroundings. For some reason when people go on vacation they get “Vacation Brain”. The attitude becomes “I’m on vacation so everything is good and rosy”. We always need to be aware of our surroundings wherever we are and this is especially true when traveling with children. Children get distracted, easily diverted and wander. Pay close attention to your child. Don’t let them wander, alone, across the piazza to look at the fountain. Go with them. Not only are you ensuring their safety but you are creating memories with them. My sons are now in their 20’s. What do they remember most about our travels? Being with Mom and Dad. Experiencing something new. This is your time with your family so make the most of it while traveling with your child through Italy. “Happy travels!”