It’s best to plan your family vacation from one end to the other, as Italy is a very long peninsula. You are best off flying into Milan and out of Rome or down in Calabria. Make the most of your time by working your way South to North or North to South, whichever you prefer. If you want to avoid the crowds in the beach during the summer months but still want to travel to the coast, book a hotel that offers a private beach or buy beach club access.
Driving in any new country can be a daunting experience but Italians in particular are fast and aggressive drivers. If you plan to rent a car, select specific points to pick up and drop off your vehicle. If you’re not planning on renting, you can always pay a taxi driver to take you to your destination.
Traffic in Italy *
The train system in Italy is great in the larger cities but most countryside and rural towns don’t have easy access to a train station, at least not within walking distance.
So if you want to see the countryside, you should definitely rent a car. However, there are also day tours or drivers for hire that will take you out of a city and into the nearby countryside for the day.
If you plan to visit during the summer months, especially July and August, make sure you book well in advance for the seaside towns. The coastline tends to fill up with tourists and every hotel can become fully booked very quickly. Also, since summer is the most touristic season, apartments and hotel rooms are normally very expensive.
Single hotel rooms will not accommodate a family of 4 or 5 so you will require multiple rooms. Hotels will usually have cribs and highchairs for your convenience. For family-friendly rentals, you’ll find villas and agriturismo properties in more rural areas.
Many think a villa is simply an Italian home in the countryside; however villas are usually very large properties and are better for large family vacations or trips with multiple families staying in the same house. If you are travelling with your (small) family, your best bet is to opt for an agriturismo property type.
These are large estates that have been broken up into apartments or turned into resorts. Sometimes these are small villas that share the pool or other amenities with other properties close by. If you’d like a private villa, be sure to ask whether the pool is shared. If you have a baby or toddler you should ask whether the pool is close to the house or not.
Most rural properties can be booked for a week from Saturday to Saturday in the busiest months, from June to September. These don’t all offer cribs, highchairs, etc. for small children so make sure you check whether they have what you need before booking. However, many companies now rent out equipment specifically for travelling with babies.
Italians love kids so yours will most likely get lots of attention. There also is no shortage of fun activities for kids! For example all over Italy Arte al Sole Camp hosts experiences for children and even parents are allowed to participate.
It’s no coincidence, we’ve saved the best for last! Let’s talk about Italian food. All kids (and adults) love a good pizza so fear not: your toddlers will love the cuisine. Restaurants open around 19:30 for dinner but bars and cafeterias usually open earlier for snacks and appetizers. However, this is more common in the cities. In the countryside, you should plan to bring snacks with you for your afternoon hunger pangs. Note that pharmacies in Italy stock baby food and supplies.
Italian baby food is of great quality and the pharmacists usually speak good English so you can make it through your Italian family vacation without stress or worry. Happy traveling!