Florence is a must do excursion if your ship calls at the cruise port of Livorno in Italy. Claire takes a look at one way to see this Italian cultural highlight with young kids.
We loved exploring Florence with our two children and think we found the perfect way to see the city with young kids. There are both guided and self-guided tours of Florence dependant on whether you want to explore with a group or take in the sights at your own pace. We opted for the former during our Mediterranean cruise with Carnival. Here’s why and what we recommend you see in Florence with toddlers:
A self-guided tour of Florence with toddlers
With two children under the age of four, we thought we’d get left behind by a guided tour. As it turns out the guide on our coach gave us plenty of information to get us started before we even reached Florence. So at no point did we feel left to fend for ourselves.
We had a map, a recommended route, and a will to do Florence justice in the four hours we had before rejoining our coach. Here’s what we were able to see while touring Florence with toddlers:
Santa Croce Square
Santa Croce Square is extremely picturesque – you would expect nothing less of the burial place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo. It is also the venue for the annual Calico Fiorentino each June. This is a historic football tournament where fighting on the pitch is encouraged. Be warned that if your visit coincides with this event you may not be as much of the beautiful piazza as usual.
I was surprised by the vivid white and green marble of the Duomo. I had seen pictures of the cathedral but in real life it was a remarkable sight. It was about 10am when we arrived here but the streets around were already very busy and there was a long line of people queuing to go inside the Duomo or climb up into the dome.
If you would like to wait to go inside you may not see much more of Florence. My advice is to venture on to keep young children amused. Do however plan a return trip to Florence to do this. I’ve been told the views from the dome are incredible on a clear day.
Piazza Della Repubblica
This is a sure fire toddler pleaser. The carousel in Piazza Della Replubblica dates from the early 20th Century. My eldest was a happy girl when we agreed to pay the €3 for her to have a ride on the antique horses while we soaked enjoyed the architecture around this wide square.
Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza Signoria is known as the heart of Florence. It holds an array of famous statues including Michelangelo’s David (a replica) and the impressive Palazzo Vecchio – Florence’s town hall.
The sculpture that resonated most with our girls was the modern Searching for Utopia. It is an enormous turtle being ridden by a figure not unlike Elvis! This is no longer in the piazza but you can still see the permanent roman sculptures and the David replica.
Ponte Vecchio is the oldest surviving bridge across the River Arno in the city. It dates back to Medieval times and is lined with high end shops selling gold, watches and jewellery. The views from the bridge were fabulous and obviously inspired many declarations of love as evidenced by the collection of love locks.
Tips for visiting Florence with toddlers
- The journey from Livorno to Florence takes at least one and a half hours. Make sure you leave your ship with snacks, water and entertainment for little ones.
- Take a pushchair or baby carrier. The sights I’ve recommended here are all in the flat part of the city but it is a long walk for little legs.
Read the full post about what we did during our four hours in Florence and more tips for visiting with your own children.