As my kids and my parenting skills grow up and their personalities truly begin to crystallise in my mind, I find myself wishing I could revisit a couple of things and do them a little differently. At the same time I love looking back at how our love of travel has blossomed together.
Our first proper family city break was to Bologna. It was slightly ambitious and in partnership with the amazing Bologna Welcome, who were keen to show us absolutely everything. I totally overestimated what my then 4yo was capable of and ended up in tears when I had to take my youngest child, in complete overwhelmed melt down, out of a personal museum tour, leaving my Dad and daughter to finish off with the shell shocked guide.
My Dad had taken one look at the itinerary the night before we left, and told me to reorganise the museum tour, how I wish I had listened, brilliant though Museo della Storia di Bologna (Museum of the History of Bologna) is. Looking back it was no wonder the poor child lost it, after a journey kids need to let of steam and relax. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing.
The museum is child friendly, Dad and daughter learnt lots about the history of the medieval city we were about to see, and filled us in afterwards. My then 4yo would have coped at his own pace, but was too young to cope with a tour.
But Dad scooped us all up and took me for my first Italian expresso (I’m not a coffee drinker) and bought the kids biscuits the size of their heads and I’m pleased to report it got much better from then on. My Dad quickly reminded us all of how to pace ourselves on a city break, and there is no better city to stop for foodie treats, Bologna is Italy’s foodie capital.
We rode the San Luca Express, a toy train, to San Luca Church, ate the most incredible pizzas at Vito A San Luca, took an open top bus tour, found Ca’shin, an lovely playground and cafe in the hills, tasted Stefino Bio wasabi ice cream, marvelled at statues and fountains and wonky towers around Piazza Maggiore and drank red wine in more beautiful piazzas while the kids chased pigeons, ran along metres and metres of covered walkways, befriended balloon sellers and drank hot chocolates, again the size of their heads.
I began to really see things through the eyes of my kids, and do did Dad I think…
Bologna has loads to offer both grown ups and kids, it is very walkable, and Italians are so forgiving of little ones, meaning my Food Scientist Dad and I could indulge our sightseeing and foodie passions. So many people took the time to chat to the kids from balloon sellers, to barmen, to waiters, train drivers, shop keepers, passers by. I have so many photos of the kids with people. This lady offered a ride on her bike when L was getting tired!
Looking back as a mum to much older kids, hindsight is a magical thing. I’ve learnt to try and see things much more from my kids perspective, rather than expecting them to keep pace with me. I can see now that new places and spaces overstimulate my youngest and his reaction is always to touch everything and leap about, so now we seek out the places first where it is okay to do that. Seeing a city through their eyes is truly magical though. Some of my favourite photos are of their hands exploring or them running through ancient architecture.
All ages need good food and drink stops which Bologna delivers. Walkable cities like Bologna, with so much for the eye to see are a gift for little legs.
Over on Space in Your Case you can read more about my top tips from this family city break. Bologna also has lots to keep children entertained, as we discovered. I also fell so in love with Bologna I went back again with a friend, that time for a much more grown up agenda of foodie appreciation.
More Family City Break Inspiration:
For more city break inspiration, why not check out these amazing city break posts from some of my family travel blogger friends: