Unique Experiences for Kids in Italy

Old Jul 29th, 2008, 09:59 AM
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Unique Experiences for Kids in Italy

Hello:

We are going to Italy for 2 weeks beginning next week. We have 3 days in Rome, 8 days in Florence (we are planning on taking side trips to Pisa, Lucca, Siena, etc.) and then 3 days in Venice.

We are looking for the best experiences for the kids, aside from the historical and artsy stuff.

Thank you.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 10:06 AM
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How old are the "kids"?

3
8
12
15

And what are they interested in?
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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Hello:

I am sorry. That would help. They are both boys--11 and 6. We have traveled a lot and they always say it is going to be boring and we end up having a great time. Last year, neither wanted to go to London and now the 6 year old is moving there. Ha. The oldest is in to sports, and the youngest is in to Star Wars. The oldest told me this morning that he does not want to go--it will be boring. He does not want to go to a bunch of historical places. This may border on heresy, but my husband and I are not as in to historial or artsy places either. We just want to enjoy the culture.

Thanks very much.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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Ride bikes on top of the walls of Lucca. The walls and moats outside which are now all grass were defensive structures.

Take the Underground tour of Orvieto (a short train ride from Rome or florence). There are so many caves in the rock on which Orvieto is built!! Some restaurants are actually in the caves, such as Le Grotte de Funaro. Also look down into the huge deep well Orvieto used for water during sieges -- and walk down the double circular staircase to the bottom. When you get off the train you take a funicular that goes straight up the hill to town but you arte always on the level because of the way the car is built.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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Check out this site with things your boys may enjoy in Rome: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/rome/chills_thrills.htm

I pretty much used this as our guide for what churches to see (other than the obvious) when we went to Rome for the first time with our kids who were 9 and 12 at the time.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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The is a Science museum in FLorence that's great for kids. In ROme, Borghese park. In Venice go to Murano and chsck out the glass blowers. We wandered around town and found a little shop (a bit off the beaten path) with 3 men working. 2 of them were working together making an ornate chandelier and the other was making the little touristy animals that they sell all over. The 2 working together almost looked choreographed. It was amazing watching them make these beautiful creations. We all were mesmerized.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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My daughter really enjoyed the Pistoia Zoo just outside Florence.

http://www.zoodipistoia.it/e-index.html

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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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Before setting your hearts on the Science Museum in Florence, have your hotel verify that it is open. Their website is still showing notices indicating that much of the collection may be closed for renovation as it was when I visited this past March.

http://www.imss.fi.it/museo/eorari.html
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 12:06 PM
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Whether or not the kids WANT to do it, they MUST climb the dome at St. Peter's in Rome. It gets all crooked and you end up almost on a ladder - it's like a fun house and not to be missed.

My kids were 15, 13 and 10 went we went to Italy. I thought the Time Elevator in Rome was a bit cheesy, but it gave the kids a painless crash course in history. If you do it, it may spark an interest that wasn't there before.

Take the barkers up on their offer of a free water taxi ride to Murano in Venice. You get to see all kinds of boats (we saw garbage boats, an ambulance boat, a hearse boat)on your trip to Murano and then you watch a glass blowing demonstration that is interesting. (You just have to be able to say "no thank you" at the pricy gift shop.)

You should also climb the dome in Florence...I guarantee that the boys will get a kick out of the lurid Last Judgment art they will see on the way.

Oh, and make sure to go the Cappucin (sp) church in Rome. It's got rooms decorated in bones. Quite creepy.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 12:36 PM
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Thanks to jgg for posting the link to my "Chills and Thrills" travel note. If you are going to San Gimignano, there is a torture museum that young boys would love. It's on the main piazza by the well. The La Specola Museum in Florence is another option. Lots of preserved animals and realistic anatomical models. The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, just outside Florence, would also be interesting. While in Lucca, be sure to stop into the church of San Frediano which has the tomb of St. Zita. Her "incorrupt" body is in a glass coffin. Be sure to tell your sons the legend surrounding her. Zita loved to help the poor. As a servant in a wealthy home, one of her duties was to bake bread for the household. One day, she left the baking chore to care for a poor invalid. The other servants in the house told the master who went to the kitchen to investigate. Upon entering, they witnessed angels baking the bread. Today, the people of Lucca bake a loaf of bread in honor of St. Zita on her feast day.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 09:33 PM
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Great time for the kids, adults, and everyone in between (tweens):

The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci
Rome, Piazza del Popolo
[email protected]

With Leonardo's drawings they reproduced the inventions and projects of Leonardo. The reproductions may be touched, cranked, and pulled to see how they work.


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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 10:13 PM
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We went to one of these Leonardo Da Vinci "museums" in Florence. His inventions were very interesting.

I hate to recommend it, because it is so cheesy, but my kids (and I) enjoyed The Time Elevator in Rome. It's not overly exciting, but it's kind of a ride which shows a movie on the history of Rome. My kids picked up lots from it.

I'd recommend picking up the book: KidsEurope Italy Discovery Journal: Adventures for Kids 6-16. It gives lots of great ideas for ways to capture the kids' imaginations in Italy.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 04:25 AM
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LOL, travelgirl2, we both used "cheesy" to describe the Time Elevator. I don't know if it's the actual attraction that is cheesy, or that one feels cheesy going there, when you are steps away from throusands of years of "real" history.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 05:05 AM
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missypie - "cheesy" describes it to a T, don't you think? I felt so silly going there, but the kids picked up a lot from it. And, it was a quick and easy diversion on a day we were very tired.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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Another vote for the time elevator. Also climb the leaning tower. Get tickets and reservations online before you go.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 09:00 AM
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Yes, and talk about the Leaning Tower before you go....it's so funny...I think it's a monument to bad judgment through out history!

One of my daughters had a teacher who has a great appreciation for kitsch. We had a great time in Pisa shopping the stalls for the Kitschiest Italy Souvineer Ever to bring back to her. (We found it - a little leaning tower with arms and a top hat!)

We didn't go to Lucca, but isn't that the town where everyone recommends that you rent bikes and ride along the old city walls?

Oh, also, you must have at least one gelato per day. (We did that and when we skipped a day, the kids made us get two the next day.)
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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Agree w/ missypie that your children may enjoy the Capuchian Church of the Immaculate Conception in Rome (via Veneto, near Piazza Barberini). Bones of thousands of long dead monks, stacked, arranged, displayed. Fun to see the people who come to see the bones.

The bell towers at the Duomo in Florence and St. Mark's, Venice might interest your boys. The views are spectacular.

Your family may enjoy a short trip up the hill from Florence to Fiesole, which may be reached by the #7 local bus. Great views, a Roman amphitheater and cooler air.

Enjoy your trip. We did a similar trip this spring with our daughters 11-13 years. They forecast boredom, though rarely realized it, and we did lots of museum tours.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 01:52 PM
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If you can stand one museum, I'd make reservations for the Galleria Borgese in Rome. You reserve an entry time and your time there is strictly limited, so the boys can't complain that the adults are spending too much time there. The sculpture is fantastic and I'm not the biggest sculpture fan ever.
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