Ilonka Schäfer is Founder of The Little Voyager, a travel website offering child friendly holiday homes that are particularly suitable and well equipped for parents travelling with babies and toddlers.
When I was 2 months old my parents already took me on my first road trip to Italy. Ever since then I spent almost every summer of my childhood there. I learnt to swim in Italy, I got my first kiss there, I ate tons of Italian gelato and every time I smell fresh basil, I feel like I am back there.
When I was 20, I moved for 6 months to Perugia, the capital of the Umbria region, a truly beautiful and unique area. I went there to study Italian with a good friend of mine at the “Università per Stranieri di Perugia ” and had an unforgettable time.
Today I am the parent and have two beautiful children and travelled back to Umbria with them and was delighted to find that all the wonderful things I remembered about the country are unchanged and Italians are truly child friendly people.
As we all know traveling with little ones can be tricky – we managed to miss our flight to Florence – but that’s another story. Once we finally arrived at our very family-friendly accommodation close to Anghiari, located on the border between Tuscany and Umbria, we all started to unwind and relax. Our accommodation, a converted manor house was as appealing to our children as it was to us parents. For the children, the five-acre grounds are an idyllic playground, packed with numerous possibilities for adventure: from trampolines and playhouses hidden in the woods to two pools, a games room and tons of toys for toddlers. For the adults, simply knowing the little ones are safe and entertained, means we could really relax.
From our home base we started investigating the area and made short day trips. One trip took us to Anghiari, a small beautiful hill town which enjoys lovely views across the Upper Tiber Valley, especially from the playground at the top of the town, where our kids had a lot of fun. There are also some museums to visit and good examples of restored frescoes at the Palazzo Pretorio. Wednesday is market day and shopaholics will also love the Busatti store where beautiful linens are made.
On our way back we stopped at a small Trattoria in Monterqui. Colouring books for the kids and amazing home-made pasta for all of us, no need to say this was a truly good experience! The kids were even allowed to enter the kitchen and had a mini class about how to make home-made pasta.
Another day I took my kids of course to Perugia, which was about a 60 minute drive. Perugia is a vibrant city with a rich artistic past. You can spend a day exploring the submerged tunnels beneath Piazza Italia, the maze of medieval alleys and the collection of fine art within the Palazzo del Priori. Or take the kids to the famous Perugina Chocolate Factory and Museum. They offer one-hour tours, available in various languages including a taste of different chocolates!
We also visited Sansepolcro, an attractive fortified town, located about 20 minutes drive from where we stayed. This town is famed for being the birthplace of Piero della Francesca, but it also has several interesting museums, some great boutiques and restaurants and an outdoor pool complex, open in summer and great for the kids.
All restaurants we visited during our trip were happy to cater to children, provided high chairs and many times we even found a box of lego or colouring books with crayons for the kids to be entertained during lunch.
Further nice ideas and day trips I can recommend are:
A day trip to the lovely town of Sienna. There is the children’s art museum which offers an introduction for kids aged 3 to 11 to the visual arts. As well as seeing the displays, you can book little ones into a workshop for hands on art activities.
Visiting Florence with the kids: The Children’s Museum at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence gives children an insider’s view of the palace. Among other things, they can explore secret passages, hear stories and take part in fresco workshops.
Read more from Ilonka on traveling with children:
Child-friendly Traveling in Northern Germany