I highly recommend visiting Florence and Tuscany with your teens. On our visit to Florence we spent a full day on a private Tuscany tour through Tuscan Sunshine Tours. It was perfect for our group of 4, because we were able to choose exactly where to go and what we were interested in seeing. We researched in advance and chose Siena, Monteriggioni, and San Gimignano.
Our tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable, and even made an unscheduled stop at the U.S. Cemetery where many Americans are buried who died fighting in Italy during WW II. It was very interesting and moving. Then we went to Siena, where he dropped us off at the Piazza del Campo for our own exploration of the city. He talked extensively about their famous horse race on the way, so that when we actually got there it was pretty neat to see where the horses actually run their race. I am sure the race would be incredible to see and experience.
Piazza del Campo in Siena, where the annual horse races are held
Another great site to visit is the Palazzo Pubblico, where you can climb the Torre del Mangia, which is 102 meters (367 feet) tall. Climbing to the top is strenuous, but once you reach the top there is a beautiful view of Siena and the surrounding countryside.
Palazzo Publicco: teens will love climbing the tower and seeing great views of the city and countryside
View of Piazza del Campo from the tower
View from the top of Torre del Mangia
Our next stop was the medieval walled town of Monteriggioni. The Sienese built it in 1214-19 as a defensive position in their war against Florence. The poet Dante Alighieri used Monteriggioni’s turrets as a symbol for the “ring of giants encircling the infernal abyss.”
A fun book my teens found to be humorous in the gift shop
What my kids really loved was that in Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Monteriggioni was the home to Ezio and his uncle Mario. There is a great little museum you can explore with weapons and armor that you can try on.
Playing around with armor and weapons in the small museum
They were excited to see this Assassin’s Creed display
You can also climb part of the walls and look over the beautiful Tuscan countryside. It wasn’t crowded at all and the small town had a fabulous restaurant right at the entrance. Monteriggioni is a very calm and beautiful place to explore.
On the city walls at Monteriggioni with a beautiful view of the countryside
Finally, we drove to San Gimignano, which is another small walled medieval hill town, also featured in Assassin’s Creed II. It is famous for all of the various towers that still dominate the skyline. Back in the day, rich citizens competed with each other to build the highest tower. About 14 of them remain, but in medieval times, there were 72, with the highest being 70 meters tall.
View of several of the towers that still stand in San Gimignano
We wandered around the beautiful, small city and stopped in a piazza where two different ice cream places claimed to have “The Best Gelato in the World.”
Great place to stop for a treat in San Gimignano
In Florence, your teens can visit the statue of David in the Accademia Gallery.
Inside the Accademia is the famous statue of David
What is great about the Accademia is they have an unfinished statue that shows just how much of a genius sculptors are, creating incredible beauty from a solid piece of rock. Just amazing.
This unfinished statue gives a great idea of just how amazing sculptors are that can create something like this out of a solid piece of rock
Of course, you can do more climbing in Florence, climbing to the top of the famous Duomo for a great view over the city. In addition, teens can see famous art in the Uffizi, and tour the Basilica of Santa Croce where many famous Italians (that your kids have probably studied) are buried or memorialized, including Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, and Dante. Each has an incredibly beautiful, elaborate monument.
Famous Italians’ monuments in Santa Croce, clockwise from top left: Galileo, Cosmo de Medici, Dante, Michelangelo, Machievelli, and da Vinci
Overlooking Florence is the Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers a panoramic view of Florence. Around sunset, it is packed with lots of young people with picnics and drinks enjoying the weather and eagerly awaiting the beautiful sunset over the city. It is a great place to go to see an absolutely gorgeous view of Florence.
View of Florence right before sunset from the Piazalle Michelangelo
My teens enjoyed our visit to Florence and Tuscany, but preferred the countryside and seeing the medieval hill towns, as these were less crowded than the big cities. It was also fun wandering through the streets. The Assassin’s Creed connection didn’t hurt, either.
Up next–In Part 3 of “Italy with Teens” I will discuss Venice. Please leave me a comment or share your ideas for great places to visit with teens in Florence and Tuscany below, and once again, thank you for reading and supporting me!