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The #1 Mistake Families Make When Visiting Italy—and How to Avoid It!

The #1 Mistake Families Make When Visiting Italy—and How to Avoid It!

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Are you planning your first trip to Italy? Keep scrolling to find out the top mistake first-timers make and what you should do instead!
This list of Italy travel tips for summer was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Hey there, fellow parent travelers!

So, you’re thinking about taking the family to Italy? That’s a fantastic choice! I’ve been there, done that, and have the gelato-stained T-shirts to prove it.

With two boys who have more energy than a Roman gladiator fight, our family trips to Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Cinque Terre) have been nothing short of epic adventures.

And along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t when you’re exploring Italy with kids in tow.

Now, lean in close because I’m about to share the #1 mistake families make when visiting Italy—and trust me, it’s a biggie.

But don’t fret, I’ve also got the inside scoop on how to avoid it, ensuring your Italian vacation is as smooth as freshly churned gelato.

We are BIG fans of daily gelato in Italy! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The #1 Mistake: Overpacking the Itinerary

That’s right, the biggest blunder families make is trying to cram too much into their trip. I get it; Italy is like a living museum, bursting at the seams with history, art, culture, and culinary delights.

You want to see it all—the Colosseum, the Vatican, the canals of Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the rolling hills of Tuscany.

But here’s the kicker: trying to fit too much in will leave you and the kids exhausted, cranky, and probably wishing for a vacation from your vacation.

Image of a mom and two kids in the Colosseum
Loved exploring the Colosseum with my boys! Photo credit: Nicole Dittrich

How to Avoid It: Slow Down and Savor

Italy is all about “la dolce vita” (the sweet life), and part of that is learning to slow down and savor each moment.

Here’s how you can do just that, making your family trip to Italy unforgettable for all the right reasons.

1. Prioritize Your Must-Sees

Sit down with the family and pick out everyone’s top must-see attractions.

Maybe your little ones are fascinated by the gladiators in Rome (mine were), or perhaps they’ve dreamed of seeing the colorful houses of Cinque Terre. Whatever those must-sees are, make them your priority and build your itinerary around them.

2. Schedule Downtime

Yes, downtime. In Italy, this could mean a leisurely afternoon in a piazza, letting the kids run around while you sip on a cappuccino, or maybe a slow stroll through a local market.

Some of our favorite memories are the unplanned moments, like finding a playground filled with local kids in the heart of Florence. These breaks give everyone a chance to recharge and truly soak in the Italian atmosphere.

3. Embrace the Local Lifestyle

One of the best ways to truly experience Italy is to live like a local, even if it’s just for a few days. Opt for accommodations like vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods where you can shop at nearby markets and cook some meals at home.

Not only does this save money, but it also gives you a taste of everyday Italian life. And as a 40-year-old mom, I’m discovering that I enjoy grocery shopping in other countries way more than at home!

Plus, local shopkeepers and neighbors are often a goldmine of recommendations, leading you to hidden gems not found in any guidebook.

It was cool to feed the boar coins in Florence! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

4. Less is More

When planning your days, remember that less is often more. Choose one or two main activities per day and leave room for spontaneity.

Maybe after visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, you spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your own pace, stumbling upon a street artist or a quaint little gelateria. These are the moments that often become the most memorable.

5. Get the Kids Involved

Getting the kids involved in the planning process can make the trip more exciting and enjoyable for them.

Let them pick a couple of places they’d like to visit or activities they want to do. It could be something as simple as a golf cart tour of Rome (a hit with my boys!) or a bike ride through the Tuscan countryside.

When kids feel like they have a say, they’re more likely to stay engaged and enthusiastic throughout the trip.

Wrapping It Up

Visiting Italy with your family is an incredible opportunity to create lasting memories, immerse yourselves in rich culture, and enjoy some of the best food on the planet.

The key to a successful trip is to remember that the magic of Italy isn’t found in rushing from one attraction to the next; it’s in the slow, sweet moments that happen in between.

By prioritizing, embracing downtime, and living like a local, you’ll avoid the all-too-common mistake of overpacking your itinerary and ensure your Italian vacation is everything you’ve dreamed of and more.

So, pack your bags (but not too much!), grab your family, and get ready to experience Italy in all its glory.

Here’s to your adventure in “il bel paese” (the beautiful country)! Ciao and happy travels!

Looking for more Italy travel resources? Check out How to Visit Italy with a Toddler, Rome to Pisa Day Tour: Travel Tips & Itinerary, How to Plan a Trip to Italy: Step-by-Step Guide, How to Spend 10 Days in Italy with Kids, and What are the Best Rome Tours for Kids Worth Booking?

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