Saturday, June 4, 2016

Traveling Italy... with a Toddler

Italy is full of ancient history, delicious food, and romantic walks. Going there is the trip of a lifetime for a couple.

But if you happen to be traveling through the boot with a toddler, like we did recently, be prepared to split your days between the traditional highlights and Toddler Activity Time (TAT).

I scheduled it so that all museum visits happened during her afternoon nap time. While she sawed wood in her stroller, we got to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Vatican Museum with the Sistine Chapel (gorgeous), the Uffizi Gallery, and the Accademia in Florence (David is a hunk). But to get her to nap we had to let her spend the rest of the day pursuing Toddler Activities to wear her out, like: Chasing pigeons in Florence.

Chasing pigeons at the Vatican.

Lying on the floor of St. Peter's Basilica and playing with mama's shoes because chasing pigeons is a tiring activity. 

While traveling with a toddler you must accept the fact that she will want to see John Keats and Percy Shelley at their house ("Knock, knock!"), even though they left the building two hundred years ago.  

Realize that your toddler is watching everything you do from speaking Italian, to looking both ways before crossing the street, to holding onto the pole during metro rides. So set a good example and she will follow.

Italians love children and they go ga-ga over toddlers. Our toddler gave high fives (batti cinque) to countless Italian children, parents, and adults. Every waiter we had fell over themselves to help out with our toddler, which was a pleasant surprise. Nevertheless, although every Italian restaurant has a high chair (seggiolone), embrace the fact that for your toddler, no seat is as comfortable as your lap. Even while dining at the Pantheon. 

Enjoy the beautiful Italian architecture, even when you're stuck at the playground... for three hours.

Be comfortable skipping the hip Art Gallery and let her watch street performers instead. She'll have more fun, which means you will too. 

Traveling through Italy with a toddler takes planning, patience, and a love of travel. But will our toddler remember this trip to Italy? Maybe she'll remember the feelings of happiness that she, my husband and I all felt there. Maybe she'll remember the hugs. But will she remember seeing the Pantheon? St. Peter's? All those pigeons? Probably not. But I will. For a long, long time. 

So if you are debating whether to take that big trip to Italy with a toddler--or elsewhere--do it. It will provide challenges, there will be meltdowns, but there will be so much joy. It just may be the trip of a lifetime... for your family.