Italy

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Though Italy is certainly a child-friendly destination, not every museum or monument is going to appeal to small – or even mid-sized – children. Thankfully, the weather cooperates most of the year: Plan for picnics or half days at the beach, and always check to see if the museum shop has a suitable activity book to make the visit more fun. Finally, stave off potential bouts of boredom by alternating art sites and picturesque towns (where kids may fall prey to short attention spans) with the occasional amusement park or family friendly attraction (see below).

Italy Family Activities

Acquario di Genova

Genoa boasts one of the world's most important aquariums, with 70 tanks reproducing a variety of marine and terrestrial habitats housing more than 6,000 animals of 600 different species. In addition to being a major tourist attraction, with 1.5 million visitors each year, the aquarium also strives to increase public awareness regarding environmental issues.

Ponte degli Spinola, Liguria, 011-39-010-234-56-66, www.acquariodigenova.it (Italian only)
Tags: family | wildlife | aquarium

Carnevale and Mardi Gras

Venice is famous for its masked celebrations, but the seaside town of Viareggio is equally worth a visit at carnival time. Started in 1873, the Viareggio revelries now feature huge papier-mâché satirical floats that parade along the seafront promenade for five Sundays between late January and early March (dates vary). At other times of the year, projects and miniature models of the most memorable floats can be seen in a dedicated museum.

22 Piazza Mazzini, Tuscany, 011-39-0584-962-233, www.viareggio.ilcarnevale.com (Italian only)
Tags: family | museum

Gardaland

Italy's largest amusement park lies by the shores of Lake Garda, and offers attractions in four categories: fantasy, adventure, energy, and live shows. Rides include six roller coasters and seven water rides. Open Easter through September and select weekends in the winter.

Strada Statale Gardesana Orientale, Veneto, 011-39-045-644-9777, www.gardaland.it
Tags: family | things to do | amusement park

Italia in Miniatura

Sample the best of Italy's and Europe’s architectural treasures and natural wonders at a glance with over 270 fascinating miniatures of mountains, harbors, cathedrals, castles, palaces, and archaeological sites on a 1:25 or 1:50 scale. Other attractions include a science park, a Pinocchio area, and a prehistoric valley.

239 Via Popilia, Viserba, Emilia Romagna, 011-39-0541-736-736, www.italiainminiatura.com
Tags: family | architecture | amusement park

Mirabilandia

With exciting activities for young children and exhilarating rides for older children and adults, this amusement park makes an unforgettable day out for the entire family. Open from Easter to October. Ticket reductions are periodically offered online and a free shuttle service operates from the Lido di Classe-Lido di Savio train station.

Località Mirabilandia, Savio, Emilia Romagna, 011-39-0544-561-111, www.mirabilandia.it (Italian only)
Tags: family | amusement park

Pinocchio Park

Carlo Lorenzini, the creator of Pinocchio, chose Collodi for his pen name as a tribute to this quaint hillside village (located within the municipality of Pescia), the birthplace of his mother. The theme park tells Collodi's version of the Pinocchio story (quite unlike Disney's!) through sculpture, mosaics, and puppet shows.

3 Via San Gennaro, Collodi, Tuscany, 011-39-0572-429-342, www.pinocchio.it/eng/pinocchio
Tags: family | art | amusement park

Time Elevator Experience

This one-hour show consists of high-tech virtual projections of the most famous Roman monuments. Ride the “time machine” and discover Rome as you've never seen it before: Three panoramic screens, flight simulators, and a state-of-the-art surround sound system catapult you through 2,750 years and the most important events in Roman history.

20 Via Santissimi Apostoli, Lazio, 011-39-06-6992-1823, www.timeelevator.it
Tags: family | history | cinema

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