Family Travel in Italy

My husband and I recently returned from a week-long family travel trip to Rome with three of our four teenage children. My daughter has travelled overseas before, but for my step-sons, this was their first trip to Europe. We all had a fantastic time, and made memories together.  Today, I want to share some of my tips for traveling to Italy with teenagers.

 

First Published: April 24, 2019 Last Updated: August 12, 2019

 

Mother and daughter holding straw hats

 

 

Things to Know When Traveling to Italy

Family Travel Tip #1:  Rent an Apartment

I have written often about the many benefits of renting an apartment in Europe.  Regarding family travel, with teenagers in tow, I feel even more strongly about this recommendation. Teenagers need space.  And they need Wifi….let’s just call a spade a spade. (Truth be told…me too!). Touring all day long is exhausting for everyone, and being able to come back to an apartment that has good space for everyone, a kitchen stocked with snacks and drinks, and Wifi, helps the whole family decompress, rest, and keep up the daily touring pace.

Don’t let the prospect of renting an apartment in Europe intimate you!  I have an excellent checklist that will help you think through all the details of making not only the decision about WHICH apartment, but also what you will need to buy at the local market to get your trip off on the right foot!  I’ve always had GREAT luck with VRBO!

 

Three teenagers posing near a ruin in Rome

 

Things to Know When Traveling to Italy

Tip #2:  Which Sites will Teens Especially Love

I do thing there’s a little psychology needed when planning a European trip with teenagers.  You need to remember that they have a shorter attention span than adults.  They need a lot of variety.  And, even though they are younger than their parents, they seem to have less endurance for 8-10 hour days of site seeing.  So, for example, Rome has literally hundreds of sites that are worth of seeing.  Which ones to choose?  If you are feeling even a little bit overwhelmed, I have a FREE List of 7 Sites in Rome your teenagers will LOVE!  Click on the image below to get your FREE Printable List!

 

Roman Ruins with text

 

Italian Pizza vs. American Pizza

Family Travel in Italy Tip #3:  All Pizzas are Not Created Equal

Here’s the thing that many tourists struggle with….when visiting a foreign country, the food is NOT going to taste like what you are used to eating at home.  Even a food as ubiquitous as pizza, is NOT the same in Italy as it is in America. Major differences? A tomato-based sauce is not a given on all pizzas!  Many pizzas are “white” pizzas.  Toppings are very different, and pepperoni, sliced in little rounds, is just not a thing in Italy….embrace the sausage and mushrooms, y’all! Most street-pizza is displayed room temperature, in big rectangular sheets, not rounds.  When ordering, you indicate how big of a piece you want, and then that piece is warmed up in a toaster oven. Bottom line…embrace the different! It’s part of the fun!

 

teenage girl standing in between two teenage boys holding ice cream cones

 

Gelato in Italy

Tip #4:  When in Doubt, Get Some Gelato

Americans typically plan family travel with kids in the summer months.  And, Italy can get really hot! And you know what happens when it’s hot?  People get cranky. And teenagers can reach an epic level of cranky. I have found that gelato has magical soothing qualities.  No bacon and eggs for breakfast…no problem…get some gelato. Stood in a thirty minute line in the sun to see the inside of the Pantheon for 3 minutes…gelato will make that misery fade into a distant memory.  Gelato WHILE standing in line works well too! Feet aching after a long day of taking in the sites…gelato, people! Three scoops….live large!

 

Three teenagers learning over a railing looking at ruins in Rome

 

What to Wear in Italy in Summer

Tip #5:  Cover that Booty, Girlfriend

Hi all you parents of teenage girls.  Ya’ know how you always say, “I’m not buying those shorts, they barely cover your bottom.”  And your teenage daughter always says, “MOMMMMMM….this is what’s in styleeeeeeee now.” There’s possibly an eye roll.  Then you repeat yourself, and she repeats herself, and after escalation, you wave the while flag, and buy the shorts.

Well, I have a daughter who is 99.9% legs.  And her shorts are short. But, it is absolutely a non-starter to go into a church in Italy wearing short shorts, and with bare shoulders. I’m not kidding. Don’t do it.  We had an uncomfortable moment in the Chisea Santa Maria della Vitoria…my daughter was actually shooed out of the church.  Proud parent moment.

Your fashion work-around…try to lump your church visits together on one or two days, and have your teenage girl wear a sundress that gets as close to her knee caps as fashionably possible.  Throw a scarf or pashmina over her shoulders, and you will be good to go. Save the shorts for another day, and respect the custom!

 

Teenage girl in a green shirt mimicking the pose of a Roman statue of an Emperor

 

 

Mainly, y’all…have fun with your teenagers!  Vacations are a great opportunity for forced-family-travel fun!

And….if you need help planning the most memorable trip to Italy ever….this post provides information on the most fantastic private guide service company!  Ciao!

 

Family in the Roman Forum

 

 

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