If there is one thing kids are going to love about Florence, it’s sniggering at the bums and willies. There is much more to Florence though, and if you want to encourage your little philistines, there are some awesome tours to take the stress out of it. Let’s face it, my kids think me telling them facts is BORING, but they will lap it up from someone else.
From Treasure hunts with kids, to ice cream school, to an in depth social, cultural, historical political insight into the city linked by two of Florence’s key attractions, ‘Duomo and David’, LivItaly Tours have a tour for everyone.
It rained a lot that day sadly, but we were undeterred!
In the morning we did a food tour and gelato making class, which as a foodie I absolutely loved. In the afternoon we could choose between two tours. Having missed out on tours to Florence before, I decided to do the more grown up Duomo and David Tour. I will link to the other’s posts on the Treasure Hunt Family Tour too though.
Florence Food Tour & Gelato Making Class
Most suitable for: foodies, families, sightseers, pleasing everyone.
Duration – 3 hours, although only a third of the time walking.
This was pitched at a level that kids could get involved and with a great mix of sightseeing, immersing yourself in Italian culture, doing and eating! I’d have no qualms about taking my 9 and 11 year old along.
Tours are in private groups so lots of opportunity to tailor your tour to your group’s needs. Our guide Raffaela was so lovely and chatted away animatedly pointing things out for us and telling us stories. She quickly took us to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge so we could get a real sense of the city.
She pointed out things we might have missed like ancient towers, old shop fronts, street art and explained Pinocchio’s creator was from Florence, before stopping to explore the food market.
Raffaela was happy to continue to talk us round the food market or to give us 15 minutes to shop on our own.
After this we bundled into a gorgeous cafe which used to be a woodcutters, we gathered round a giant table with vices still intact.
Then it was time for ice cream school. We popped into Perché no (Why Not?) Florence’s oldest gelato store to pick up our teacher Ciro who gave us a fabulous lesson in ice cream making at his ice cream school round the corner. There was lots of opportunity to volunteer and get hands on with the making, and the eating.
My goodness it was mind blowing to eat! I could tell the ice cream flavours were geared to us too. Pistachio and Strawberry were quite grown up, then Chocolate and Banana perfect for kids and then tomato sorbet on crostini and Prosecco – perfect for the foodies. I kid you not, I have never tasted anything quite so incredible as tomato sorbet.
Although, Rafaella did point us in the direction of pizza for lunch afterwards, you can’t beat a slice to go. Amazing!
Find out more and book the Florence Foodie Tour.
Private Florence Walking Tour
Most suitable for: grown ups and older teenagers with a love of history, art, architecture, those wanting to see Michaleangelo’s David.
Duration 3 hours, pick a start time to suit you.
Is there something you have always dreamed of seeing in Florence? Ponte Vecchio Bridge? David? The Duomo? Having a private guide means you can build some flexibility into your tour and there is plenty of time to chat and ask questions. Our guide told me some lovely stories about accompanying elderly and ill people to see a sight they had always dreamed of seeing.
This tour would be too full on for my kids who are 9 and 11, but for older kids, history or art students, or for grown ups it’s a really indulgent learning experience. Our guide was mind-blowingly knowledgeable and able to explain everything in great depth. And we had him all to ourselves!
Our tour began outside the Uffizi where you learn about the formation and growth of Florence from Roman times. I loved learning more about all the statues, all the famous thinkers that line the streets – although I couldn’t help feeling irked by the fact they are all men.
The incredible richness of the Medici family that allowed walkways to be built above the ground for the family to cross the city…statues looking at you everywhere you turn, it’s quite a strange feeling.
The tour also takes you to the Duomo, a 15th century Gothic cathedral, which takes you breath away when you turn the corner, it’s really quiet unexpected, especially on a grey and rainy day I think. Brunelleschi’s Dome is said to have been inspired by the magnificent engineering of the Pantheon in Rome. Your guide gives you a ticket that gives you direct access to climb the Florence dome after the tour at your own leisure. Unfortunately the rain meant the Duomo had closed early, I will have to come back to Florence! But it was stunningly beautiful from the outside.
Our guide also took us down side streets to see where the city’s water level had once been, to see medieval archways, sites of mafia bombings and pointed out the phenomenal frescoes on the ceilings of clothes shops and of the old grain store. There is beauty and there are stories everywhere you look in Florence.
The tour covers the city’s most famous monuments, but has a special emphasis on David which also allows you to jump the queue into the Galleria dell’Accademia, which seeing the queues, in the rain, was a very fine thing indeed. I can imagine queuing in summer would be hot too.
I hadn’t really given much thought to David, and I was secretly wondering what all the fuss was about, and laughed at the graffiti in the toilets.
However, I really wasn’t prepared for the scale and detail of Michelangelo’s creation. It’s over 5 metres tall! Our guide was brilliant at this point and we had a fascinating debate about sculpture.
The gallery leading up to David is lined with works which led to the creation of David and our guide pondered whether these were the true pieces of art, as they showed the person emerging from the stone. Was this what fascinated Michaelangelo most about sculpture, finding the character in the material, rather than a polished final representation?
Anthony Gormley is my favourite contemporary sculptor and it got me thinking about sculpture and the relationship between bodies and material, between absence and presence.
The sculpture itself took two years of work and Michaelangelo was 26 when he took it over. Walking round it you really begin to appreciate the scale and work involved!
Vincenzo asked us to imagine David’s thoughts as he faced Goliath.
There is no need to know anything about Florence beforehand, but I wish now I had had time for a little research as it was a very detailed tour and I think a little knowledge of Florence would have been helpful for all the detail to stick to.
I was mind blown by Vincenzo’s knowledge and enthusiasm for Florence, his passion for art and history definitely transformed our visit.
More information on the private Florence walking tour.
Treasure Hunt in the Uffizi gallery
Most suitable for: kids and their art loving families.
Duration – 2hours, starts at 2pm.
Daisy has written an account of the Treasure Hunt, which sounds brilliant if you want to get the most out of visit with kids and learn something about Florence’s art and history along the way via the Uffizi gallery. You get to see this incredibly famous painting, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, which after all the sculptures of men I saw on my tour would have been a pleasant change!
I love the sound of the prizes too! Find out more about the Uffizi Treasure Hunt via Daisy’s blog above or by the Liv Italy tours outline.
Whatever you do in Florence, make sure you eat the RIGHT Ice cream, potter and I do hope the sun shines for you!
Fluffed up gelato might look tempting, but it’s been filled with air because it is old. Real gelato isn’t fluffy. So go for the one on the left, not the right.
We returned a little soggy, brains bursting and hearts full to our amazing villa, just in time for a pizza party!
You can find our more about that here.
Thanks to LivItaly tours for hosting us.