This 10-day itinerary brings you to Tuscany's best family-oriented attractions. It's rather light on churches and art, and heavier on outdoor fun, often with parts of the day devoted to children and parts that will please the parents. In general, Italy is a family-oriented society, so kids should have fun wherever they go. Things to reserve ahead of time are Florence museum tickets, Pisa's tower, the car ferry to Elba, and possibly horseback riding in the Maremma.
Tuscany & Umbria for Families & Wine Lovers
Days 1-2: Florence
Making reservations beforehand for the top-selling attractions, such as Michelangelo's David, will help avoid the hassle of waiting in line for hours with the little ones. But there are a number of diversions better-suited to kids. Climbing Brunelleschi's cathedral dome will be the highlight of Florence for most, while Galileo's telescope lens (and preserved middle finger) holds court at the Museo Galileo. The quirky, medieval Museo Stibbert will thrill Harry Potter fans, while the Specola zoological museum is packed with an array of stuffed animals ranging from crabs to a rhinoceros. Be aware that the latter has some pretty gruesome displays on medicine, though teens will probably get a kick out of them. Then there's enough gelato in town to sink an aircraft carrier.
Day 3: Pinocchio Park, Spas & Lucca
Pinocchio Park, the park in Collodi devoted to Pinocchio's creator, isn't exactly Disneyland, but it is still a pretty good stop for imaginative little ones. Afterward, you can all unwind in the outdoor spa pool at Monsummano Terme. Don't waste time on dinner here. In the late afternoon, make your way to Lucca for a cycle along its ramparts before sitting down to some orzo soup.
Day 4: Caving in the Garfagnana & Beachcombing in Viareggio
Take a sunrise drive to the Garfagnana and start the day with a 1-hour tour of the caves and tunnels of the Grotta del Vento. In the morning, be sure to also visit the steep, windy streets of Barga. Have a seafood lunch and a sunny afternoon at the beach in Viareggio. Summer vacancy will be difficult to find in the beach hotels, so spend another night in enchanting Lucca.
Day 5: Pisa
The best of child-friendly Pisa can be visited in half a day. Kids of all ages will want to see the famous Leaning Tower and climb up it, but note that the minimum age to go up is 8 years old. After a timeout in the Orto Botanico, one of the world's oldest botanical gardens, continue rolling south along the coast to catch the ferry to your next stop, the island of Elba.
Day 6: Elba
Catch a ferry from Piombino and spend the day touring Napoleon's old haunts, riding in a cage to the summit of Monte Capanne, and doing some snorkeling at the beach -- our favorite patch of sand is at Sant'Andrea. In July or August, you will need to reserve your ferry tickets well in advance.
Day 7: Hiking & Horseback Riding in the Maremma
The southern edge of Tuscany is cowboy country. Spend the morning hiking in the Parco Naturale della Maremma and see wild horses, white cattle, and hopefully a wild boar (at a distance). Contact the park's headquarters ahead of time about horseback riding or canoeing in the area. In the evening, drive to Orvieto and arrive at night to see the hilltop city awash with spotlights. It is a great place for a late dinner of so-called "Etruscan specialties" and the town's namesake white wine.
Day 8: Orvieto's Tunnels, Etruscan Tombs & Cortona
Scramble down Orvieto's ancient tunnels in the tufa rock and have a look through some of the puppets in toy stores around town before lunch. Afterward, make your way up to Cortona for a hike through the Etruscan tombs outside town. Cortona's reputation for hotels is slightly better than nearby Arezzo's, though neither town has Tuscany's best accommodations. Try to spend at least 1 night in a nearby agriturismo or bed-and-breakfast. For a truly memorable experience, Cortona has a number of fantastic medieval festivals, so try to plan your visit accordingly.
Day 9: Cortona & Arezzo
Spend a lazy morning wandering through the sights of Cortona, the inspiration for Under the Tuscan Sun, which will only take a couple of hours. Then drive north to Arezzo. The SS71 is a curvy road through quintessential Tuscany. Arezzo is a great place to spend any afternoon, seeing the famous fresco cycles of Piero della Francesca, and the backdrop for Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning film, Life Is Beautiful. Try to time your visit to coincide with the Giostra del Saracino, a medieval joust (and a real kid-pleaser) or with one of the spectacular antiques fairs, which take place the first Sunday of every month.
Day 10: Depart Florence
Take the autostrada to Florence in the morning to catch whatever sights you missed the first time around and, of course, finish up with some shopping.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.