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Florence with Teens in August

Level Contributor
5 posts
3 reviews
Florence with Teens in August

Hi - we are getting ready to leave in a couple of weeks for our trip to Italy, which includes 4 days in Florence. I was hoping to reserve a full or half day small group or private tour, thinking that would be more interesting for my teens (13 and 16 yrs) rather than trying to work our way around the city on our own. My kids are not generally interested in museums, and I was thinking a guide might make these a bit more interesting for them as well as for myself. I was also hoping to plan a day trip out of the city (into Tuscany) on an excursion NOT centered around wine (although a wine or other food tasting would be welcome). Unfortunately, the couple of highly reviewed guides I contacted are already fully booked. So I am looking for any advice, referrals or other suggestions anyone might have, especially given the late date. We will be in Florence on August 15 through 19. Thank you !!

Utica, New York
Level Contributor
1,007 posts
2,074 reviews
1. Re: Florence with Teens in August

We've done Florence with two teens (niece and nephew, 14 and 15 year old), twice in the last three years. Here is what they liked (and everyone has different interests, of course).

The San Lorenzo Market -- hundreds of stalls on the street from San Lorenzo to Mercato Centrale -- is fun for everyone. Do some dickering. Lots of leather goods, jewelry, sports stuff (we found soccer jerseys we couldn't find anywhere else). Start a little early in the day, take a tour through Mercato Centrale -- fun market with pig heads, veggies, sausages,wines, cheeses, etc -- and eat at Zaza's. It's a little bit of a tourist place but it's fun for the whole family. Huge menu.

Duomo with gelato. The Duomo is a beautiful church (exterior only is OK with teens) and there are some great gelato places right on the square. Because August can be very hot, make sure you do plenty of gelato stops. Makes the day go easier & you can get tiny portions. Often!!

Straw Market & the piglet. It's near Piazza Repubblica (one of the huge piazzas) and it's small. You can do a little shopping & then pet the pig... yes everyone does it... you'll see how the bronze gleems & yes they might resist but they'll love the pic when they get home. And probably post it on Instagram.

After Straw Market, Ponte Vecchio. Jewelry stores, jewelry stores, jewelry stores. SInce the 16th century. Amazing bridge that they'll enjoy... great views. Lots of window shopping.

Piazzale MIchangelo. Spectacular views overlooking Florence. You can take the bus up (careful it's known for pickpockets). But we do a cab & then walk down through the rose gardens. If you can convince them, a beautfiul medieval church with maybe even better views -- San Miniato -- is just down the road a hundred yards or so.

Hang out. Best place, I think, is the Piazza SIgnoria. Dozens of restaurants and coffee bars. Just sip their favorite beverage (some of the places have refreshing mist machines if it's hot). Spend a couple hours. Gelato, light food, drinks. Watch the people go by.

And there are museums that aren't art. Galileo Museum. Fashion Museum in the Pitti. Ferragamo's has a museum, as does Gucci. Da Vinci Machines museum. So if either of your teens are into fashion, this is the place... major Italian designers everywhere.

Do some small street walking. Either to the left of the Palazzo Signoria (Dante's House is there but I wouldn't do it... there isn't anything real bout Dante there, it's all reconstructed). Or on the Oltrarno side -- the other side of the Arno. Or near Santa Croce... they might like Santa Croce for one church... it contains tombs and cenotaphs of many major Italian figures. They'd recognize the names.

As for a day trip, Vinci is close by & it's a wonderful museum devoted to Leonardo and his work... wooden constructions of his inventions. You could also do San Gimignano, a medieval towered city but it's a little hard toget to. First place I'd go to would be Pisa. It's only a little less than an hour away by train. And the Baptistery has the most impressive chant echo I have ever heard. The Tower, the Duomo. Beautiful. Hard to get to from the train station -- either take a bus or a cab. Another option is Lucca. Medieval walls that are a park surrounding the town. the wall are 20 feet wide, still encircling the city atop the walls. A little more than half way to Pisa.

Level Contributor
18 posts
2. Re: Florence with Teens in August

RonL - We are going this coming week - thanks so much for those suggestions - cool things for my 12 year old to do!

Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
346 posts
175 reviews
3. Re: Florence with Teens in August

Thanks, RonL, for an informative post. Have saved it as we will be there in November with my 14 year old. Though she loves ancient history and archeology, I am a bit doubtful about art. I have only Academia & Uffizi in my itinerary as of now and was pondering over the rest. You have given some great ideas.

Level Contributor
5 posts
3 reviews
4. Re: Florence with Teens in August

Thank you thank you thank you! Such great detail. And all on target. My kids love markets and fashion and gelato. This is a real help.

5. Re: Florence with Teens in August

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Removed on: 7:19 pm, August 23, 2015
Kalamazoo, Michigan
4 posts
6. Re: Florence with Teens in August

I know you said your kids weren't interested in museums, but how many world-class museums have they every been to? It would be a near crime not to at the very least go through the Uffizi. How many opportunities will they have to go to one of the top-rated museums in the world? I'm not chastising your children in particular, but American teens in general really need to pry themselves away from pop culture and their electronic devices and delve a little more into culture and history. Travel, especially international travel, is not the time to seek out experiences that are always inside a person's comfort zone and it would be perhaps a valuable lesson to your children to learn at this stage in life so they aren't doomed to be conditioned to a lifetime to Disney-fied travel experiences. I made my first trip abroad at 15 and I wasn't exactly "into" museums at that age myself. I grew up going to museums with my parents and I definitely recall being bored to tears at times, but that was when I was younger. But I have to say on that trip to Europe when I was 15 I remember being fascinated by the Louvre, the Prado and the Pergamom. Those museums, along with all the other things I experienced that summer 35 years ago sparked a lifelong passion for travel and I've not gone more than two years since then without returning to Europe. I am not suggesting that you don't seek out things that are going to be attractive and interesting to them. They need to experience Europe on their own level. But I would strongly challenge you not to automatically excuse them from the museum experiences. While it's a rather esoteric and middle-class lesson to learn, nonetheless it's an important lesson for any young adult to understand that some of the most important things to know about the world and it's people might not always be the most interesting. It's called being well-rounded. Get a book on the Uffizi. Let them read through it and pick out some paintings or sculpture they think are cool. Have them research those peices online before they go so they know the period, the artist, the context. They don't need to read a scholarly dissertation to get this information - I'm sure they are well acquainted with WIkipedia. That way when they go they aren't just staring at a piece of art with no context whatsoever. Then afterwards, ask them about what they saw...what did they like the best...why did they like it? You might be pleasantly surprised or you might think it was a total bust. But at least give your kids the opportunity to see and like one of the most important art museums in the world. You will at least be able to leave the world someday without that regret, lol :-) Have a GREAT trip whatever you do!

Edited: 10:39 am, July 28, 2015
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
1,628 posts
375 reviews
7. Re: Florence with Teens in August

<<My kids are not generally interested in museums, and I was thinking a guide might make these a bit more interesting for them as well as for myself.>>

I don't think this is a realistic expectation of what a guide is able to do. In my experience, you have to meet cultural and historic sights half-way, by doing your own share of research and preparation before you leave home.

Challenge your teens to get involved in the trip planning. Toss them the guidebooks, send them to the library, and get them Googling. Tell them you want each of them to come up with their own list of sights and activities -- ones THEY'RE interested in. Then, include some of their choices on your itinerary.

Unless you get 'buy-in' from the young people before you leave, nothing a guide can do is going to be able to hold their interest. They need to find sights and activities that appeal and seem relevant to them. You'll might be surprised what they'll come up with, with only a little encouragement.

Level Contributor
3,111 posts
29 reviews
8. Re: Florence with Teens in August

Regarding the day out of the city, have you considered a daytrip to the beach instead of the countryside?

(I assume you meant "countryside" for "Tuscany", since by being in Florence you are already in Tuscany)

The closest seaside resort is probably Viareggio, 1h 20m drive.

I think it would be nice for your kids in the middle of your 4 days to have a break from city sightseeing especially because it's likely to be incredibly hot in Florence in August.

New Orleans, LA
Level Contributor
11 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: Florence with Teens in August

Have you checked with Tours by Roberto? You may well have already done so, as Rick highly recommends him. My sister and I took the "Montagnola" day tour in 2013, and had a fabulous time exploring Etruscan ruins, villages, and towns with him and a few other friendly folks in the small van that he drives. This tour is aimed at those "not interested in wine." See toursbyroberto.com, choose "day tours" and choose "calendar" for your dates.

Level Contributor
5 posts
3 reviews
10. Re: Florence with Teens in August

Thanks - I did mean countryside. We will have time at the sea after our stay in Florence