When you think of Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, what immediately springs to mind? Is it the many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture? The iconic sights of the city’s Cathedral, the Duomo, or Michelangelo’s sculpture of David? What may surprise you, (whether you have visited or not), is that the historical city is also home to many family friendly attractions. This article looks at some of the child friendly tours in Florence including gelato making, a food tour, treasure hunt and white water rafting and reviews LivItaly Tours.
Background – I have recently spent four fabulous days in Tuscany with 12 fellow bloggers at Villa Le Capanne via Bookings For You. It’s never easy to plan a group holiday, particularly in a region like Tuscany where there are so many incredible sights and experiences to choose from. When planning our holiday all 13 of us quickly agreed that we wanted to spend a full day in Florence. For some in our group it was going to be their first time to the city, others like myself had visited many times before. As mums and family travel bloggers it was important to us to spend the day visiting/revisiting the classic must-see sites whilst also experiencing some of the best kid-friendly tours in Florence. From doing some research on tour providers in the area we knew that LivItaly Tours were going to be perfect for us “We are a family owned company dedicated to making your visit to our beautiful country a “living” experience. We want you to completely absorb the culture, beauty, flavours and excitement of Italy.” When we saw the food market and gelato making tour LivItaly offered it sealed the deal and before I knew it I was on the phone arranging our visit!
Child friendly tours Florence. Review: Private Florence Food Tour & Gelato Making Class with LivItaly Tours
Highlights of our three-hour private tour – We met our enthusiastic guide Rafaela in a central easy to find spot in the city, Piazza della Signoria. Wearing headsets so Rafaela could communicate with us all she lead the way through the bustling city to our first stop, Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in the world. Here she explained how the bridge was finished in 1350, built to replace its 1333 predecessor after a catastrophic flood carried it away.
Rafaela explained that we were crossing over to the less touristy part of the city to visit a small farmers organic food market popular with locals. Everyone was going about their regular Sunday routine. There were smells of cooking coming from every apartment, vespas parked in small narrow alley ways and locals strolling around stopping to talk to friends in the streets. I felt that we were experiencing the real, authentic Italy, not the touristy side of the city we had left behind on the other side of the Arno River. Rafaela kept bumping into people she knew and kindly introducing them to us like we were her best friends. She made us feel incredibly welcome in the ‘village’ as she kept referring to Florence.
Wandering around the organic food market was a real treat. Raffaela explained that there has been a big push for organic food in Florence over the last few years with many locals choosing to buy at farmers markets and not supermarkets. There were many local delicacies on sale from organic honey and vegetables to sweet Italian pastries, wine and crafts.
After exploring around the food market we popped into a local coffee shop for an authentic cappuccino before heading out on the pretty cobbled streets once more, this time in the direction of one of the oldest gelaterias, Perché No! We were greeted warmly by Ciro Cammilli, the present owner and gelato maker extraordinaire. He explained how the store opened in 1939 and every day churns out fresh gelato made with all natural ingredients. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know the difference between ice cream and gelato until meeting Ciro who explained that whilst both have similar ingredients (cream or milk, fruit and sugar), ice cream contains eggs which is typically not an ingredient in Italian gelato. The key difference between the two is in the actual process as gelato is churned at a much slower pace than ice cream resulting in a much creamier texture and enriched natural flavor.
The next part was really good fun as we were given the opportunity to make fresh banana gelato. I couldn’t help but think about my boys who would love getting stuck in making their own dessert. It was surprisingly easy to do, waiting for the gelato machine to stop churning to try the gelato was the hardest part!
We sampled the banana gelato we had made with a chocolate gelato Cilo had made earlier, they were both mouth-watering good. We also tried strawberry served with pistachio which were a winning combination. To finish off our demonstration Ciro asked us all to promise we would try something a little unusual… we didn’t know what to expect but when he started popping open bottles of Prosecco we were willing to give it a try! His surprise flavour was ice cream bruschetta (see image above). A tomato and basil sorbet smeared on top of a slice of crostini, topped with a basil leaf and drizzled with olive oil. Oh my it was a taste sensation… When he offered to prepare another we just couldn’t resist!
Summary: Private Florence Food Tour & Gelato Making Class with LivItaly Tours
Who is this tour for? This tour is suitable from five years plus. Kids and adults will love the range of experiences covered in the three-hour tour and children will particularly enjoy getting stuck in making authentic gelato. Prices can be found here.
Service offered by LivItaly – I was really impressed with the service offered before and during our tour. We were supposed to visit Mercato Central, Florence’s weekly food market, but unfortunately they announced it was closed a few days before our visit. The LivItaly team quickly rescheduled our tour to a different market. We were sent detailed instructions with recommendations of where to park our cars and how to navigate our way to the tour guide meeting point. The whole experience was convenient and stress free. LivItaly pride themselves on offering private tours for a maximum of just six people, to avoid the use of handsets. As the 13 of us had asked to stay together for the morning tour they kindly agreed and provided headsets for our use. (This was a good call as we all kept wandering off to take photos of elaborate doors, sculptures and street art!) I was also super impressed with their flexible can do attitude. On the afternoon of our visit as few of us had planned to go whitewater rafting but the weather was pretty dire and so we decided to call it off and remain in the city instead. LivItaly kindly offered for us to join the pm walking tour which was a much appreciated gesture.
Child friendly tours in Florence: Uffizi Treasure Hunt Family Tour
In the afternoon our group parted ways to take part in different tours. One group joined our morning guide Rafaela on a child friendly treasure hunt around the Uffizi Gallery. They discovered hidden secrets following a LivItaly exclusive scavenger hunt treasure map featuring 500-year-old symbols and learned about the world-famous art collection including Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces.
Daisy has recently shared her thoughts on the child friendly treasure hunt “I can genuinely see this being a brilliant tour for families visiting Florence. A fun but super interesting tour that appeals across the age ranges; parents get to visit a world-famous gallery, which they may not have otherwise done with kids in tow, and kids get a fun introduction to art and the history of the town they are visiting”. Read Daisy’s full review here.
Child friendly tours in Florence: Rafting through the centre of Florence
My group and I had planned to go rafting through the centre of Florence along the River Arno. We had opted for this tour to get a completely different viewpoint of the Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi gallery and Ponte Santa Trinita. We had arranged to go with T-rafting, an outdoor pursuit centre run by four expert water sport instructors who offer varying levels of rafting from scenic to white water rafting, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. The weather however was pretty awful, the rain didn’t stop all day, so on the day of our tour we sadly had to call ahead and cancel our plans. The four guys who run the centre are obviously a very tough bunch as they were still keen to go bless them and show us the sights. It’s a great excuse to return to Florence though as I know my boys, who are water sports mad, would absolutely love it.
If viewing the sights of Florence from a raft sounds like your perfect family day out keep in mind that the best time to visit Florence to take part in one of T-raftings excursions is between May – September. Young families are catered for and life jackets/wetsuits are provided.
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Disclaimer – We were guests of LivItaly Tours during our day in Florence. All opinions and words are, as always, my own.