Sure, Florence is full of art museums—and that may make visitors think that it's not well-suited for children. But Florence's mostly pedestrian-free city center, which includes wide squares, interesting backstreets, and colorful markets, is actually quite kid-friendly.
Here are some sites in Florence that will appeal to kids of all ages—and their parents, too.
Florence's beautiful squares, most especially the Piazza della Signoria, are not only great spots for an impromptu afternoon gelato or an evening stroll, they are also open-air museums, brimming with statues and fountains. Check out our list of Florence's top squares to learn which ones your family may enjoy.
The beautiful, manicured gardens that sprawl behind the Pitti Palace are a great place to spend a sunny afternoon with kids. Lawns, grottoes, and fish ponds are just a few of the lovely attractions here that vie for your attention.
The former Museo di Storia della Scienza was renovated and rebranded in 2010 as the Galileo Museum, giving Florence a chance to commemorate native son Galileo Galilei and his many accomplishments in the realm of science. Science museums in general are a fun place to bring curious kids. But the Galileo Museum may have other such museums beat: it features the relic of Galileo's middle finger, certain to make kids of all ages giggle and squirm.
Outside the Mercato Nuovo, a bustling market that sells leather goods, handbags, and sundry tourist trinkets, stands Il Porcellino, an adorable bronze sculpture and fountain that has become the mascot of this market area near the Ponte Vecchio. In addition to being a favorite with kids, the bronze piglet is also part of Florence's tourist lore – a rub of its snout and a coin inserted into the boar's mouth, is said to guarantee a return trip. What's more, the money collected from this ritual is donated to a local children's charity.
This event, held each year on June 24, is an interesting chance to enjoy soccer as it was traditionally played in Florence in medieval times. Four teams of bare-chested men from each of the city's four districts battle it out for bragging rights on a dirt-filled Piazza Santa Croce. The game can get pretty violent and the language can be colorful, so it's not necessarily an affair for the young kids. But teenagers are bound to love it.
On Piazza della Repubblica, a pretty antique carousel is open from 10 AM to 8 PM and may stay open later in the summer. The carousel dates to the early 20th century and has been run by the same family for generations—a ride costs a couple of euro and is fun for the little ones.
Florence's city hall is the site of a civic museum with great displays and activities for kids. Family tours have to be pre-booked but are a great way for kids and adults to learn about Florence's fascinating history, with lots of opportunities for hands-on learning.
Near Piazza della Repubblica, Palazzo Strozzi is an elegant 16th-century palace that now hosts temporary art exhibits and cultural events. It's one of the most kid-friendly museums in the city, with itineraries and activities available for children of different ages.
Eat pizza and gelato
We almost feel like we should just write "Duh!" here. But never underestimate the fun you can have by taking the kids for pizza and following up with gelato for dessert. Aperitivo hour, in Florence and throughout Italy, is always kid-friendly, so your kids can have a soft drink and snack—handy for those late/afternoon energy crashes—while the grown-ups have an adult beverage.
Updated by Elizabeth Heath