Florence can be a fascinating place for kids and it is a great city for walking around amongst great art. I think family travel with kids should always include museums and it is often the best part of cities for children. Part of the key is to do museums in a different way as a family and also preparing well before going, to make the experience richer.
Museums are a great place to find kids books and we found a few good ones in Florence. We bought and enjoyed “Playing with Art Florence” (ISBN 88-85957-12-9) by De Salvina Baldini and “Florence A Young Travellers’ Guide” (ISBN 88-09-02018-9) by Giunti. We brought a few books with us from DaVinci’s last trip to Florence including “The Uffizi Guide to the Collections and Catalogue of all Paintings” which proved useful while in Florence and beyond, when ever conversation leads to the art there or just fun for Mozart to thumb through and look at the pictures.
One of Mozart’s favorite gifts from one of the museums in Florence was a tiny collection of art books from all the museums called “Great Museums in hand”. She loves them so much that she even took them to school here in Spain to show the other kids.
Of course, you can not miss the classical kids things either, like the merry-go-round that sat in the center of Florence. What traveling kid would want to skip a ride on one of Europe’s magical rides? Our Mozart took quite a few rides in rain and shine and during the day and evening. Every time we went by, it seemed too irresistible to not jump on for a few moments. Mozart even made a few drawings of it when we got home to our RV.
We really enjoyed the gleeful children in the panels at the Museo del’Opera del Duomo. There was no one there when we visited and the happy children dancing and playing instruments touched us all. Despite being made of marble, they all looked light and airy, expressing the joy and creativity of childhood.
We are in the habit now of buying a plain notebook before we start in a museum and we let Mozart pick it out. In a city like Florence, where we are seeing many, we get a large one that she can use at all the museums. She enjoys this, it buys us a lot more time for adult slower viewing, and it makes a great keepsake for a traveling child. She picked one with Botticelli’s Venus on the cover since it is one of her favorite paintings and her favorite Greek Goddess is Aphrodite.
She loves museum tours, so she decided to make this book a tour of the museums and she was constantly occupied writing away in it and making quick thumbnails of the paintings and sculptures that she liked. I had to smile when I looked at what she had put down, when we got back to the RV one night and after she had fallen asleep. Some day she is going to giggle at her just-turned-seven thumbnail of Michelangelo’s David, misspelling of Botticelli as Botechelley and attempt at a sophisticated French good bye with an “Avua” at the end.