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3 days in Florence as a family

We have just spent 3 days in Florence as a family. It wasn’t our first time in the Tuscan capital but it was the first time with our two children. We chose the February school holidays because it is a period with less tourists in Florence. In the spring or summer, I found the city oppressive. Indeed, Florence is ultimately a fairly small city. There quickly is too high a density of tourists because it attracts a lot of people with all the artistic beauty it concentrates!

During these three days in Florence as a family, we took our time. We certainly made a few cultural visits but very few so as not to overwhelm the children with too many museums and too many paintings. I prefer that they remember a few essentials. We therefore alternated visits and walks in the city. Obviously, we tasted la dolce vita, tasted good ice creams and dined in small trattorias. Here I share with you our program for discovering Florence with children, a program that we wanted to be as balanced as possible, between culture and strolling to please the whole family!

Age of children: Ticoeur 14 years old and Titpuce 12 years old. Ticoeur has been learning Italian at college since last September and Titpuce is our little budding artist so Florence was a destination that seemed interesting for both of them.

Travel period: February school holidays. We were very lucky with the weather: bright sunshine every day!

3 days in Florence as a family: our program

Day 1: stroll in the old center, first ice cream and sunset over the city

As I said in the introduction, the historic heart of Florence is not that big. You can discover everything on foot. I would say you can explore the historic heart of Florence from east to west or north to south in just half an hour. In addition, as is often the case in Italy, traffic is extremely limited in the center. Only local residents are allowed to drive through. It’s really appreciable in terms of noise and safety. Florence is a city where it is good to walk with children, without the stress of traffic.

Piazza del Duomo and Piazza di San Giovanni:

For our first walk, we walked near the Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore), Giotto’s campanile and the baptistery: a harmonious set of three matching buildings, with impressive architecture marking the beginnings of the Renaissance. And what a pleasure since our last visit: the facades are all beautiful, all clean!

3 days in Florence

A stone’s throw away, we taste our first schiacciata. It is a specialty of Florence. This is a light, crunchier foccacia served like a sandwich with your choice of filling. Ticoeur and Titpuce really liked it so we chose this snack for each of our on-the-go lunches in Florence (see our good addresses section below). Taking advantage of the sun, we stayed to admire the Duomo square while having a great lunch.

Then, it is time for us to cross the Arno, the river which cuts the city in two, to reach our accommodation located on the other side (Oltrarno).

The Ponte Vecchio:

To go from the historic center to the Oltrarno district, we choose without much surprise the Ponte Vecchio, so known for its small shops on either side. Since the Renaissance, there have been jewelers there because Cosimo I de’ Medici had chased away butchers and other food businesses for a more chic and more hygienic bridge. But it is above all the architecture of the bridge which is interesting with the Vasari corridor above, a passage which allowed Cosimo I to pass from the Offices (his administrative offices) to his Pitti Palace in complete safety. It would be nice to be able to cross this corridor to immerse yourself in the world of the Medici. I love secret passages!

Once in the Oltrarno district and free of our luggage, we walk along the river and taste our first ice cream at the Carraia bridge . We cross back to the other side of the Arno at the Santa Trinita bridge which offers a very beautiful view of the Ponte Vecchio:

Piazza della Signoria:

Head to another unmissable place in the city: the Piazza della Signoria where the buildings from the middle ages are concentrated. We enter the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio to admire the frescoes and sculpted columns (this part is free).

We opt out of taking tickets for the Hall of the 500 because there is already so much to see! In the square, we enjoy the sculptures of the Loggia (it’s also free). We admire the Neptune Fountain, the statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici (the Medici star who had the Uffizi built) and of course Michelangelo’s immense David! In the square, it is a copy of the real sculpture which is in the Accademia Gallery but it really has its effect, especially since we do not plan to visit the Accademia.

Florence with family

Piazzale Michelangelo and the Basilica of San Miniato:

After this artistic and medieval tour, we begin the climb towards Piazzale Michelangelo, famous for its view of Florence. Even though Florence is not very visited in February, everyone present seems to meet in this square to admire the sunset.

But I have a tip for you! You have to go even higher, to the level of the Basilica of San Miniato. Up there, there were very few people: the view is calm and even more romantic in my opinion! We took the opportunity to take some family photos, having learned the lesson from 2023 when we forgot to take photos of the four of us!

As it is Titpuce’s birthday, we return to the hotel to blow out a candle and open the presents. What class to celebrate your 12th birthday in Florence! We then have dinner in a trattoria in the old town to discover Tuscan pasta recipes (see our good addresses section below).

Day 2: the market, Santa Croce and the Uffizi

In the morning, we decide to go to the central market by zigzagging through the northwest of the old town: we pass through Republic Square, then in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella with its beautiful colored marble facade:

A stone’s throw from the basilica, for the pleasure of the eyes, we enter an old pharmacy, currently a perfumery: the officina profumo, farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

The San Lorenzo district:

We then go to the San Lorenzo district, stronghold of the Medicis. Next to the San Lorenzo church is the building of the Medici chapel but we did not plan to visit it because the afternoon will already be busy! We just want to enjoy the atmosphere of the central market and the leather market, located in this same area. The leather merchants are outside, all around the central market hall. Inside, we look at the different food stalls. If to your taste, this is a place to try tripe sandwiches, another specialty of Florence.

As we still have a little time before our visit to the Uffizi booked for 3 p.m., we make a detour to the Santa Croce church. It is a very pleasant and lively neighborhood.

We return to the banks of the Arno to go to the Uffizi for the great artistic visit of our stay!

The Uffizi in Florence:

It can be complicated to take children to such a large museum. How to interest them without boring them? Ticoeur and Titpuce love museums and exhibitions and have been used to these kinds of visits since they were little. I still made sure to adapt the visit for them. As a student, I took a course at the Ecole du Louvre and luckily I learned quite a bit about Italian painting. I therefore took it upon myself to comment on the best-known works of the Uffizi in a simplified manner. Therefore, we did not try the audio guide. I played the role of children’s guide!

We mainly went from famous painting to famous painting, which already took us 2h30! I think 2 hours in the Uffizi would have been perfect for a family visit. The last half hour, Ticoeur and Titpuce were getting a little tired. For adjusting the visit, I recommend lingering in the rooms of the corridor on the east side where the works of Botticelli can be found. In the west corridor, you can go faster so as not to tire the children but you should definitely not miss Caravaggio ‘s Medusa located at the end of the route.

Practical information for booking Uffizi tickets:

We had purchased our tickets in advance to avoid the queue at the ticket office: see the official Uffizi website. Booking online adds a commission of €4 per person but we were afraid of the queue for this famous museum so we preferred to anticipate and I think it’s a good idea. At least the entrance tickets are not very expensive for such a rich museum! The normal price is €12 per adult and it is free for under 18s (excluding €4 commission). Good deal in February: there was a great special offer out of season for a combined ticket Uffizi + Palazzo Pitti + Boboli Gardens + marquetry museum for €18 per adult and free for children! It was perfect ! Please note that you must visit the Offices first to validate the ticket.

The Uffizi in Florence

Piazza Santo Spirito:

After leaving the Uffizi, we had a drink on the terrace on Santo Spirito square in Oltrarno. A place whose atmosphere we really liked. We then had dinner in this same area.

Day 3: the marquetry museum and Palazzo Pitti

Opificio delle Pietre Dure:

In our combined ticket, there was the possibility of visiting this small marquetry museum. Papa Voyage and Titpuce are particularly fans of this technique and working with stones so it was especially a museum for them! In any case, it’s pretty, sophisticated and the museum is not very big. A pleasant visit for a quiet morning.

As we are in the San Lorenzo district, we return to the market because I had spotted a small handbag that I fell for! After all, it was my birthday!

Palazzo Pitti and its Boboli gardens:

This is the second major visit of our stay. The Pitti Palace, located in Oltrarno, is the great Renaissance castle, home of the Medici.

Florence with family

It is very imposing so not necessarily very elegant seen from the outside but what richness inside! The royal apartments are decorated with pomp, a little too much perhaps ;-).

Florence with family

The part called Modern Art didn’t really appeal that much to us. So we picked up the pace and lingered in two other sections which we really liked. First of all, the costume gallery and its fashion museum:

Then, on the ground floor, we were charmed by the immense trompe l’oeil paintings on the walls of the “Treasures of the Grand Dukes” section:

In total, we spent two hours in Palazzo Pitti. We also walked the paths of the Boboli Gardens. These are the palace gardens. It looks more like a large public park than a palace garden but it was nice for the views of Florence:

Florence in February

View from the Boboli Gardens, looking out of town

We were lucky enough to have a combined ticket but if that’s not the case for you, I would say that the gardens are not a must-see and you can just buy the tickets for the palace.

Since we were already on the south side of the Arno and I wanted a beautiful sunset for my birthday, we returned to the viewpoint of the Basilica San Miniato. The light was even more beautiful than the first day!

Florence with family

Florence as a family: our good addresses

Ice cream parlors in Florence:

  • La Gelateria La Carraia: nice, lots of choice, well located on the river and only €2.50 per cone.
  • La Sorbettiere: few flavors but it was very good and a stone’s throw from Santo Spirito square which we really like!

Restaurants in Florence:

We mostly ate pasta, so Primi. Fresh pici are a specialty that we particularly appreciated and ate in every variation!

  • Casalingua: a family and economical trattoria located in Oltrarno.
  • I’Brindellone: ​​an institution in Florence, also an economical address in Oltrarno (better to reserve a table in advance).
  • Ristorante Le Cappelle Medicee: a slightly more upscale trattoria located in the San Lorenzo district. Everything was very good but therefore more expensive than the two previous addresses.

To taste the schiacciata :

There are small schiacciata sellers all over the city but I will give you three central and economical addresses. Each time, it is possible to have a glass of Chianti really cheap but we stayed serious for lunch 🙂

  • I Girone de’ Ghiotti: the most famous spot! The best schiacciata of our stay. At midday, there were few people but just a few minutes later the queue was getting quite long!
  • I fratellini: right next to the previous one with a little less waiting.
  • Lo Schiacciavino: in the Santa Croce district

Accommodation in Florence:

We had booked a quadruple room in an exceptional building, rich in period paintings. The room is very dark because it overlooks a small interior courtyard but what a decor! A very Florentine historical setting! It’s a high-end address, more expensive than what we’re used to booking but we had two birthdays to celebrate so we treated ourselves to this luxury!

hotel in florence

I should point out that our quadruple room was €200 per night (the maximum of our usual range) but be careful: by doing a few simulations of dates, I saw that the same room could cost more than double per night! In this case, I really don’t recommend it! It’s beautiful but still! What a budget! It’s not worth double. In short, I let you control the price for your dates and personally I would not spend more than €200 per night: Palazzo Giucciardini quadruple room. Otherwise, generally speaking, Florence is not very big so any location in the center or Oltrarno will be suitable for your stay. I have a preference for the area around Santo Spirito Square, a favorite place! For breakfast, the ideal is to do like the locals and enjoy a coffee and a cornetto in a small bar or a pasticceria. Near our accommodation, we liked the freshness of the croissants at Pasticceria Marino but there are lots of similar little places everywhere!

The advantages of visiting Florence in February:

  • There are fewer people in Florence in February! Nothing to do with our previous visits at Easter or in summer. The city quickly becomes too full because it is ultimately small. In February, Venice attracts more people with its carnival. Florence is not deserted, far from it, but it’s just right!
  • Winter is the best way to avoid the extreme heat that Florentines suffer from. It is a city that regularly experiences heatwaves and lack of water.
  • In February, it’s cheaper: I told you above about the great promotion on the combined ticket that we bought to visit the Uffizi + Pitti/Boboli.
  • It is easier to find accommodation and prices are considerably lower than in warmer months.
  • Even in February, we are not safe from big blue skies! However, weather-wise, we were just lucky. Don’t go to Florence in February if you’re absolutely looking for the sun.

What are the disadvantages of visiting Florence in February? Some sites, monuments or museum rooms may be closed for renovation or maintenance. For example, during our stay, Brunelleschi’s famous dome, which covers the Duomo, could not be visited. Our program was already full without being too busy, but if I had had to choose another paid visit, I would have opted for the dome. I visited it a long time ago and it left an impression on me. Finally, there are also some restaurants and ice cream parlors closed but frankly, there are enough left!

Florence with family

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And after Florence?

After our three-day stay in Florence with family, we followed up with two days in Siena. I will soon tell you about our stay in Siena and our tour in the Tuscan countryside! And if you are tempted by other city trips in Italy, you can reread Venice with kids.

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And you ? Are you planning to visit Florence with your family?

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Florence, Florence as a family, Florence with kids, Italy, Tuscany

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