Child friendly tours in Florence: Gelato making, treasure hunts & rafting!

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.

child friendly tours in Florence

Duomo di Firenze and other iconic sights featured in many famous movies filmed in Florence. View of the River Arno taken from the famous Ponte Vecchio (which translates as Old Bridge).

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.

child friendly tours Florence

Pausing our walking tour for a moment to soak in the views over the Arno River from the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

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.

Child-friendly tours in Florence - food market with Liv Italy

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!

Kid-friendly tours in Florence - gelato making

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!

Kid friendly tour Florence - gelato making

Second helping of gelato (it was only 11am!)

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. 

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11 Comments

  1. 14th May 2018 / 7:31 am

    These activities look so fun, especially making authentic gellato. Where could be a much better place to learn this than in Italy?

  2. 31st March 2018 / 8:14 am

    This sounds perfect! Florence is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and throwing gelato making into the process just takes it to the next level!

    Katie xoxo

  3. Clare
    31st March 2018 / 6:56 am

    Having spent our honeymoon in Tuscany and a few days in Florence I thought I knew it! It shows just how much benefits a tour can be. I would never have thought you could raft down the river and the gelato making sounds divine! What a wonderful experience if we are ever lucky enough to visit this area of Italy again then I am definitely going to be looking these guys up. Especially the kid friendly tours with my two.

  4. Kate S
    31st March 2018 / 2:44 am

    Ok, seriously my son’s ideal trip definitely involves learning to make (and EAT) Gelato! These are great options – I love the idea of the treasure hunt as well. More cities should do this, it’s always so hard to find tours that are appropriate for young kids. Thanks for these tips!

  5. Cathryn
    30th March 2018 / 10:18 pm

    I’ve loved reading everyone’s Tuscany posts – we are headed there as a family later this year. So excited as it will be my first trip to Tuscany. I’ve been to other areas of Italy but have always wanted to go to Florence in particular. Looks like there is loads to do for families. x

  6. Natalia
    30th March 2018 / 7:19 pm

    I absolutely loved Florence but sadly only had a day to explore – next time I’ll take the kids and do some of the fun stuff you’ve highlighted x

  7. 30th March 2018 / 2:16 pm

    What a beautiful place to visit, child friendly tours is something we would be looking for. Great review

  8. Katy
    30th March 2018 / 12:26 pm

    This was such a great read for me as we love Tuscany and visit every other year, but so far we’ve not braved going into Florence itself since we had our little boy. It’s great to get ideas for things to do there that might be good for him, as I definitely miss seeing all the sights of Florence. He’s now nearly 4, so I think next year he’d absolutely love making gelato – he certainly likes to eat it!

  9. 30th March 2018 / 8:32 am

    How amazing! I think that the family treasure hunt is a great idea to keep the children entertained while still taking in the sights x

  10. 29th March 2018 / 9:13 pm

    Ice cream and a treasure hunt, what more could you want! I’ve been to Florence before I had kids, but would love to go back with them.

  11. Sim
    29th March 2018 / 3:52 pm

    How fantastic! I love the fact you went on holiday with other bloggers and to such a beautiful city too… I need to look into arrange something like this with my buddies 🙂 Sim x

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