Tuscany with Kids

In Tuscany, you usually do two things: hang out at the pool at your villa or visit the many “hill” towns like Sienna. We did the later. To keep our kids happy, we ate a lot of gelato and aggressively sought out parks and open spaces where they could run around. Here are some of those places.


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Siena

Siena is the most popular hill town in Tuscany, so I’m stating the obvious here. But I just want to emphasize how nice it is to simply sit in Piazza del Campo, eat gelato, chase birds and people watch. We spent two relaxing afternoons doing just that.

We stumbled upon two nice parks in Siena that are a bit far from the center. So unless you are really looking for them, you probably won’t find them. That’s why I have to show you on the map below. (This Siena map is also very helpful.)

View tuscany with kids in a larger map

Siena park 1. After a long hot day, we were so happy to find this quiet park on the edge of the city wall. The park is right near the Il Campo parking, which where we parked and why we found this park. It has a small play structure with a slide and climbing wall. There’s a large grassy field where we played soccer (we usually bring a ball with for just these occasions). And there’s a lovely view of the surrounding countryside.

Siena park 2 is inside the Forte di Santa Barbara, northwest of Il Campo. It’s a quiet green space, with long walkways perfect for running and scootering. There’s also a fenced in playground in one of the corners.


Volterra

After walking around Volterra, a famous hill town, take a break in the enormous park (Parco Archeologico) next to the Citadel (Fortezza Medicea). It has a big playground and lots and lots of grass.


San Gimignano

San Gimignano had the most charming park of all the towns we visited. The small park is enclosed in the Fortress of La Rocca. There’s some grass, space to run around, and benches so you can rest your weary legs (especially if you’ve been carrying a two year old on your back all day). You can climb the wall to get a view of the surrounding countryside. The day we were there, there were musicians and artists displaying their wares. This was our favorite part of the day.


Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni is a tiny hill town near Siena. It’s heavily promoted by guidebooks, thus the enormous tiered parking lots almost larger than the town itself. It’s cute and charming, but not much to do. You’ll see the whole thing in 30 minutes or less. Our boys did enjoy walking along the city wall, which was reasonably safe.


San Galgano

We liked San Galgano because there was a lot of open space for our kids to run around and be loud. Since the kloster is in ruins with no roof, you don’t have to be particularly quiet or respectful. There’s lots of room on the surrounding grounds for a picnic. And the setting is lovely.


Cecina Beach

If you need a change from the hill towns and want to cool off, you can drive about an hour west to the coast and dip your toes in the sea at Cecina Beach. Cecina is not particularly nice, it’s just the closest beach from the Siena area. We really loved these days just digging in the sand and lounging in the sun. The beaches are lined by forests, which make for a nice walk and a place to cool off if the sun gets to be too much. We were there off season in April, so the towns were quiet and beaches empty. But you can tell they are ready for serious crowds in summertime.


Sterpaia Beach

Sterpaia Beach was farther south than Cecina, part of a national park so it was cleaner and quieter (aka: no services) than the beaches closer to bigger towns. We all thought this was a perfect day, minus the drive there on a windy two lane road through the Tuscan hills. It was beautiful, but we all felt a little carsick by the end.

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One comment

  1. Its always inspiring to see you families traveling. My wife and I are big travelers (www.hitherandthither.net) and are expecting a baby soon (www.babymine.net). We both are committed to continuing to travel, albeit in a slightly different way and frequency.

    All best!

    Aron

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