fun things to do with kids museums florence italy   Travel for Kids
  | Tuscany | Florence
     
   

Florence – Centro

Duomo and Campanile - Florence
  Piazza del Duomo – The Piazza del Duomo is the heart of Florence, and it's not just some dusty old cathedral – all the buildings in the Piazza are a startling vision in pink, white and green marble, with stripes and rectangles, rosette windows, licorice-rope arches, geometric patterns, shining sculptures, every inch is covered! These are buildings kids can relate to, like giant marble gingerbread houses, and they are dazzling.
Duomo - Florence
   

The Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore) – The Duomo, with its brick red cupola, is a Florence landmark and an architectural tour de force. In the 15th century nobody had plunked such a big dome onto a cathedral, and skeptics thought it would fall down. But the architect Brunelleschi had an innovative design, and hundreds of years later, the dome is still the largest masonry (stone and bricks) dome in the world.

     

When you go inside the cathedral, it's quite a contrast to the vibrantly decorated exterior. Stained glass windows and frescoes provide color, but it's amazing stand under the dome itself and look up – what an incredible sense of wide open space, it takes your breath away. Kids can imagine what it was like for the workman to build the dome, using 15th century tools and techniques (no cranes), eating their lunch inside the vault high above the ground.

Also look for the fresco by Michelino, with Dante in his stocking feet, showing off an open book, the Divine Comedy. Behind Dante on the left is a wedding cake topped by Adam and Eve and other poor people in purgatory, and on the right, a surrealistic scene of the Duomo itself.
     

Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto) – Next door to the Duomo is the Campanile, the bell tower started by Giotto in the 14th century. Climb up the tower, the stairs go round and round, with cool slits to peer through as you ascend. At the top of the Campanile are stellar views of the Duomo just across the way, and views all around of Florence. Each level is fenced in, so there's no worries about the safety of kids. This is one our favorite things to do in Florence, but go early in the day.

Baptistery – The Baptistery is the oldest building in Florence, and the spot where kids were baptized each year on March 25. Don't miss the glorious gilded bronze doors, the "Gates of Paradise" outside, and inside the incredible mosaics on the Batistery ceiling. The mosaic scenes of hell show the devil with horns and snakes coming out of his ears, purple demons and green newts.
     

To see a wooden model of the dome, stop in to the Museo dell'Opera Duomo. Also in this museum is the heart wrenching Pieta by Michelangelo. In this sculpture, the face of Joseph of Armithea is a self-portrait of Michelangelo at the end of his life.

Leonardo museum - Florence
 

Leonardo da Vinci Museum Activities (Via dei Servi 66) – Leonardo left tons of drawings of his inventions, and in this museum, kids can see and touch large wooden models of Leonardo's machines. Turn the wheels, watch gears and mechanisms move for the bicycle ornithopter, machine gun, ball bearing, mortar cannon, revolving crane, floats for walking on water, printing machine, and more. This museum brings Leonardo's drawings to life.

      Tip: Read our blog post "Leonardo da Vinci's Inventions."
 

Galleria dell'Accademia – The place to see the Michelangelo's original David statue is the Accademia museum. It was originally situated in the Piazza della Signoria (where there's a copy of the statue today), but moved inside to the Galleria dell' Accademia in the 19th century. At the Piazzale Michelangelo is a third copy of the David statue.

Tip: To buy tickets for the Galleria in advance, click here.

Fountain in Florence
    A block away from the Accademia is the Piazza Santissima Annunziata with a super fountain, two winged monkeys perched on top of two sea creatures spitting water. Also on the piazza is the Spedale degli Innocenti, the first foundling hospital in Europe, decorated with blue and white ceramic rondels of kids in swaddling clothes (Renaissance diapers).
    Piazza della Repubblica – In the Piazza della Repubblica, toddlers will enjoy a ride on the old-fashioned carousel with lovely scenes of Florence painted on the top. Also at the piazza, indulge your sweet tooth at cafe Gilli, all sorts of Florentine sweets and pastries.
Bargello museum - Florence
 

Museo Nazionale del Bargello – The Bargello museum is housed in a fabulous Renaissance palazzo, with blue and gold ceilings, and decorated with the 14th and 15th century coats of arms. On display are sculptures, including Donatello's incomparable bronze St. George and Verrocchio's David (standing on Goliath's head), a lovely Madonna and Child by Michelangelo, plus Turkish armor, Egyptian swords, miniature bronze statues of knights, rearing horses, peacocks and lions, and Renaissance cameo jewelry. This museum is a hidden gem.

   

Galleria degli Uffizi – The Uffizi is chock full of spectacular art, but you'll need to plan your visit (tickets have a timed entrance), and it's also chock full of visitors. Once inside, head for the Botticelli room to see those truly exquisite Birth of Venus and Allegory of Spring. Room 16 has maps of Tuscany painted on the walls and a copy of Galileo's telescope.

Tip: To buy tickets for the Uffizi in advance, click here.

   

Museo Salvatore Ferragamo (via dei Tornabuoni 2) – Shoes, shoes, shoes, a traditional Florentine art. This is the perfect destination for a teen or anyone in your family who likes shoes. Pick your favorites from this imaginative collection of fabulous hand-crafted shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo from the 1920's to the 1960's, black and white stripes and swirls, emerald green, electric blue, ruby red, multicolor shoes, encrusted with embroidery and rhinestones.

   

Museum of the History of Science (Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza) – Right next to the Uffizi is the Museum of History of Science, which might sound dry, but it's not. The Renaissance was also a time of wondrous scientific discoveries. The museum has Galileo's scientific instruments, old telescopes and microscopes, all kinds of clocks, and other scientific apparatus. Don't miss Galileo's gold-covered middle finger preserved in a glass bubble.

   

Church of Santa Croce – The church of Santa Croce is famous for it's lovely Giotto frescoes, depicting the life of St. Francis, but it's most fun for the famous people buried there. You won't be able to walk through the church without stepping on tons of tombstones, and stopping to look at different marble monuments. Stand on one side of the church and you'll see Michelangelo's ornate tomb – right across the way is the tomb of Galileo. Machiavelli is also buried in Santa Croce, and there's a memorable monument to Dante as well. Not a destination for little kids, but something for older kids.

 

Walk along the River Arno – During your stay in Florence take time to just walk along the River Arno. There are wide promenades on either side. Starting at the Ponte Vecchio (which has withstood invading armies and flooding), going east, walk all the way to Piazza Piave (then take the electric bus back). Walking west, follow the Arno all the way to the Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Or, at any point, cross the river on the bridges, and make a loop.

family tours uffizi museum
 

The Uffizi is filled with great and glorious artworks, but just how do you make Renaissance art come alive for your kids? Take a private two hour family walking tour through the museum:

Uffizi for Families
travel tools florence italy

Standing in line for hours in the summer heat is enough to make anyone cranky, especially the kids. Reserve your museum tickets in advance for the Galleria degli Uffizi to bypass the long ticket lines and head right in:

Skip the Line: Uffizi Museum Tickets
kids books florence uffizi
     
Pippo the Fool - florence kids books  
Pippo the Fool
Tracey E. Fern, Pau Estrada

Before you visit the Duomo, find out about Filippo Brunelleschi (nickname Pippo), the architect who designed and built the great dome of the cathedral. Pippo's designs in the 15th century were extraordinary, and the red brick dome still stands today! (Picture book)

 

     
Botticelli
Mike Venezia

Botticelli (a nickname, that means "little barrel,") was a celebrity artist in Florence in his time, and you won't want to miss his ethereal Birth of Venus in the Uffizi today. Get the scoop about his life and times, growing up and painting in Florence. (Picture book)

 

 
Botticelli artist kids biography florence italy
     
kids biography florence Michelangelo  
Michelangelo
Mike Venezia

Michelangelo was a talented Florentine who could do everything – painting, poetry, sculpture, architecture. Lively mini-biography of Michelangelo, from his sculptures, including his most famous sculpture, David. (Picture book)

 

     
Stone Giant
Jane Sutcliffe

Ever wondered about the story behind the amazing David sculpture by Michelangelo? In Florence, a huge block of marble was purchased to make a city statue, but no one could carve it. Michelangelo asked for the job, and it took him three years to create this masterpiece, a "stone giant." (Picture book)

 

 
stone giant
     
florence artist kids biography Giotto  
Giotto
Mike Venezia

Giotto, artist and architect, designed the Duomo bell tower and painted the frescoes in Santa Croce. In his time, he was one of the most famous artists in Florence. An innovator, Giotto painted religious scenes with naturalistic backgrounds and people from real life. (Picture book)

 

     
Mario's Angels
Mary Arrigan, Gillian McClure

The famous fresco painter Giotto has a problem – the sky is wrong. His little assistant Mario has an idea, the fresco needs angels, angels with real faces, angels who don’t need feet because they fly in the sky. A charming story, and look for Giotto’s flying angels. (Picture book)

 

 
Mario's Angels kids giotto florence italy
     
Treasures of the Uffizi florence paintings  
Treasures of the Uffizi
Galleria degli Uffizi

Fat little book, perfect for small hands, full of artworks from the Uffizi – portraits of dukes and duchesses, paintings of knights in armor, lovely scenes of the Madonna and child, Botticelli's Primavera.
(Mini-picture book)

 

(More children's books on other Italy pages)
travel for kids | italy | tuscany | florence | florence - uffizi & duomo
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