- I’m a mom of three kids, ages 4, 2, and 2, and this was their first European vacation.
- Every restaurant we went to made sure the kids had something they liked to eat.
- We never stood in line for anything because of family priority lines.
My family of five recently traveled internationally for the first time together. Many of our friends called us brave when we said we were going to Italy with three toddlers, ages 4, 2, and 2, for two weeks. While the comments were meant to encourage us in our travels, they did the opposite for me, and I wondered if we were setting our kids up for failure in a foreign country.
I was wrong, and quickly discovered that Italy is an incredibly kid-friendly place to visit. Our vacation was amazing because of this, and something we will remember forever.
There were no kids’ menus at the restaurants we visited
We had hyped up our kids by telling them they could eat all the pizza, pasta, and ice cream they wanted once we landed in Italy. Any parent knows that those three things are a guaranteed hit with children.
On our first meal out in Pienza, I realized there was no kids’s menu. But that wasn’t a problem. The restaurant was ready to prepare short pasta with butter and cheese for them. This happened everywhere we went, including a fancy restaurant we ate at by accident, after trying to get a table at every other restaurant and this being the only available one, in Sienna.
While we found in our travels that kids are expected to eat from the same menu as adults — something my kids were doing by the end of our trip, no questions asked — restaurants were ready to whip up a simple dish to satisfy the little ones.
We never stood in line for anything
We kept our trip low-key, avoiding big cities like Rome and Florence because we feared long lines of travelers for all the touristy attractions. However, in our experience traveling through Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria, locals made sure families had priority.
We never stood in line for anything, as we were quickly ushered to the family priority line wherever we went. This turned out to be key at the airport when we were leaving. Despite arriving many hours in advance, Rome’s airport was in chaos. I was prepared to miss our flight because of the long lines, but we went through all of them in minutes thanks to these priority lines. I really appreciated this, because waiting is not any toddler’s virtue, especially in a crowded place.
When we landed in the US it was a stark contrast. We had to wait in long lines with the rest of the passengers to make it past security and board our connecting flight with three screaming children who had just spent eight hours behaving themselves on a plane.
People seemed to have more patience for kids
As a mom of three kids, two of them twins, I’m used to apologizing wherever I go, whether it’s for the kids screaming, jumping, or running around.
I found myself doing the same in Italy, and people would look at me a bit confused. I quickly realized that kids are expected to be kids and there’s more patience for them.
We had our children on an East Coast schedule to minimize jet lag, which meant they were having dinner at 9 PM every night. I was surprised to see local kids the same age as mine joining their parents for dinner, walking around the streets of little medieval towns, dancing in the piazzas while giggling loudly.
By the end of our trip, I was apologizing less and enjoying more, which in turn allowed my kids to explore and learn new things. My oldest figured out how to order ice cream in Italian and my twins opted to ditch riding in a stroller to walk the cobbled streets with their newfound confidence.