Which is better for teenaged boys: Florence or Venice?

“Hi Wendy,

We’re taking the kids to Rome and want to add another Italian city to our itinerary. Which is better for teenaged boys: Florence or Venice? Thanks.”

Florence is one of my favorite cities, but for teenaged boys I’d have to choose Venice. It’s more different from Rome than Florence is, and thus it will make for a more varied itinerary that will be more likely to hold young people’s interest.

Mercifully, my own sons aren’t teens yet, but if they were, here’s what I’d do with them in Venice. In fact, I’d recommend these activities to almost anyone headed to Venice. If they can hold the attention of teenaged boys, there are few people they wouldn’t thrill, right?

Cruise up the Grand Canal in a water taxi.

What boy doesn’t love a shiny wooden Venetian motor boat? You can stand up in the back and shoot video of the bridges, boats, and canalfront mansions as you zip along. There’s so much to look at on the Grand Canal that even a teenager can’t be bored.

Take the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge’s Palace.

You get inside the hidden rooms where Venetians were judged, hanged, and imprisoned. You even get to walk across the Bridge of Sighs. Book well in advance.

Visit the Naval History Museum and Arsenale.

Venice has an illustrious maritime history, of course—it’s where Marco Polo set sail to explore the world—and this museum brings it to life, with a fantastic variety of model boats.

Ascend to the top of the Campanile di San Marco.

This bell tower is the city’s tallest structure and is the spot that Galileo used as an observatory to study the skies. The views of Venice are awesome. Make sure the boys bring their cameras.

See The Treasury in the Basilica di San Marco.

I’m thinking all the Byzantine metalwork, semi-precious stones, and relics of saints are enough to keep a teenaged boy’s eyes off his electronic devices for an hour.

Try the beach at the Lido.

It’s an historic, picturesque beach—with just enough Italian girls in bikinis to continue keeping a teenaged boy’s eyes off his electronic devices.

Get lost.

What world traveler doesn’t remember the first time he got lost in Venice? It’s a rite of passage. You can’t stay lost for long—the narrow passageways always seem to lead to some well-known square—and finding your way again yields both self-confidence and fodder for school essays (or even college applications).

To ask Wendy a question, click on “Ask here,” at right. You’ll find many more answers from Wendy at wendyperrin.com.