Traveling with kids can be quite a challenge at times. When traveling through Italy, adults dream of visiting museums, shopping, long walks in historic downtown areas and enjoying a glass of wine at a quaint outdoor cafe. Let’s just say that it’s best to embrace the fact that your young ones have a short attention span and their hearts and minds may not be as intrigued as yours when visiting great works of art or historic sites. Therefore, finding fun activities for your kiddos is essential to making a memorable family vacation. With a little planning you can include kid friendly activities into your itinerary. If you’re visiting Milan, Italy here’s a list of fun and inexpensive things to do with your little world traveler.
1. The cathedral (Duomo) of Milan, rooftop and archeology area.
With columns the size of sequoia tree trunks, the Duomo is impressive at any age. Add a trip to the rooftop to enjoy the view and tire out your kiddo going up and down 250 steps! Visit the archeology area where there are fourth century ruins and tombs.
2. Parco Sempione
Parco Sempione is Milan’s Central Park which is located directly behind Castello Sforzesco. Its green spaces, ponds and trees are beautifully planned across its 95 acres. Take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to walk through the park. Discover the ponds that are full of turtles and other wildlife. Visit the observation tower or play at Parco Giochi Castello. There’s plenty to entertain your energetic young traveler and help them get the wiggles out. You can grab a panino or gelato at a park cafe, then enjoy some free music from one of the many street performers. It’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
3. Natural History Museum (Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano) – Closed on Mondays
Located in Milan’s second largest park (Giardini Pubblici) the natural history museum has three million pieces showcased in 23 rooms. From zoology to paleontology, there’s so much to see. The best part is that admission is free for anyone under 18! Admission is also free every Tuesday after 2 p.m and the first Sunday of every month. Once you’re done, head to the park behind the museum to explore the Giardini Pubblici.
4. Aquarium (Acquario Civico di Milano) – Closed on Mondays
Although this aquarium is very small, it’s well worth a visit. Built in 1906 it is the third oldest aquarium in Europe. The facade is decorated in an ornate Neptune theme. It has over 100 species and exhibits of aquatic life from Italian coasts, lakes and rivers. Admission is free for anyone under 18 and also free every Tuesday after 2 p.m and the first Sunday of every month.
5. Leonardo 3 Museum – The World of Leonardo Da Vinci
If you have a science-loving kid or a future engineer, this is the place for you. This museum is by far my son’s favorite museum in the entire city. The museum has tons of interactive activities, amazing working models of some of Da Vinci’s inventions and an informative digital restoration of the last supper. It’s located at one end of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (facing Piazza La Scala). Full price is 12 euro, children 6 and under are 1 euro, kids 7-19 are 9 euro. They also offer a family ticket (10 euro for adults, 6 euro for children 7-15).
6. Castello Szforzesco – Closed on Mondays
Built in the 14th century the castle has undergone many changes over the centuries. Although the castle has seen centuries of battles and sieges, it is still in use today. Castello Sforzesco houses many museums including ancient art, musical instruments, furniture, picture gallery and much more. Currently there is a special Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit which features a digital presentation in the Sale delle Asse, a room once decorated by Da Vinci himself. Your little one may not be so interested in the picture gallery or ancient art, but walking through the castle is an experience in itself. I highly recommend the armory museum (what kid doesn’t love swords?) and walking up to the battlements.
As of this Sunday, December 13, Lombardy goes from being an orange zone to a yellow zone. A few weeks ago Italy was on a the verge of a new national lockdown.
Risotto alla Zucca is a popular dish in Northern Italy. “Zucca” is a generic word in Italian for all sorts of pumpkin and squash varieties. In this recipe I use a butternut squash, but you can certainly use pumpkin as well.
Times are tense for the residents of Italy as what was considered unthinkable just a few weeks ago, namely a second national lockdown, may soon come to pass.