This past weekend, I was asked for travel advice by a husband and father of two pre-school daughters. “My wife and I want to take our girls to Italy, but there’s no way we can do the museums and cathedrals with them in tow. I’m thinking Rome or Florence, a city where we can just walk and soak up the atmosphere. Somewhere we can let the kids run around the streets and eat somewhere casual.”
His idea of travel got me thinking about what I did—and saw—while I was on my recent trip to Florence and the small towns of Tuscany. I realized that there’s always that recommended list of Top Ten Attractions. In Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is a world-famous art museum that is definitely on such a list. It was on my list too.
I loved the guided tour I took of the Uffizi, but free-to-see Renaissance art and architecture are all around in Florence. Anyone can just walk the streets and happen upon famous statues right there in a piazza. Perfect for those on a budget or with small children.
In addition to Florence, I recommended all of Tuscany to this young dad. Many of the small towns prohibit traffic—you have to park outside the city walls and walk in—so being a pedestrian is safe. And the sights along the streets are entertaining and pure Italian.
For example, wild boar is a big deal in the area. They’re hunted much like we do deer. The stores sell all kinds of wild boar souvenirs such as stuffed animals and hats. Leather goods–purses, belts, shoes–are everywhere. I loved this display of colorful Italian men’s shoes.
In the hilly Tuscany towns, the views are lovely and again, this type of sightseeing is a free, easy experience. A lot of places have towers or even hillsides where tourists can climb to get a bird’s eye view. Memorable, free, and very photogenic experiences.
And there’s always just hanging with the locals.