A zigzag tour of Italy is the convenient way to traverse the country. Starting in Milan and working our way back and forth through (Umbria and Tuscany) Venice, Orvieto, Todi, Spoletto, Sienna, San Gimignano, Florence, Rome, Bari (on this trip with our sons)….was our route this trip.IMG_4913 On other trips, I’ve done other cities that I recommend, like Sorrento. The fortress style of Orvieto, Todi, Spoletto , San Gimignano was picturesque but the grandness of Rome and Florence with all of the historical sites was significant.

Tour guides at the major cities and time built in to shop and sightsee was a perfect combination. As we walked around the important sightseeing spots, it fascinated me how my sons knew other details that I hadn’t taught them in our research units. For example, my youngest son knew many details from watching the movie Roman Holiday which I had recorded for us to watch but didn’t expect him to stay up and finish. The rest of the details they knew from their video game! –They knew specific details about the Medici family (when we arrived in Florence and toured there.) When we went to the Pantheon, they read an inscription and said, “Marcus Agrippa for the third time.” and they knew another inscription/emblem, SPQR,  that was an acronym for “Senate and people of Rome”.IMG_5298 They saw this emblem everywhere. My husband and I found this funny–-that video games can be educational, too, I guess. When I went to Rome as a 10 year old, I knew a lot of details from watching Masterpiece Theater’s I Claudius series with my big brother. Times have changed I guess.

spaghetti in squid ink


  • The Colosseum
  • The Roman Forum
  • the temples
  • the basilicas
  • the stadiums
  • Circus Maximus
  • The Pantheon

So much to see and research ahead of time—or to leave up to the tour guide. But I recommend preparing ahead of time–as an educator but mostly as a mother because it holds the kids’ attention better if they are engaged and looking for the right answer or something familiar in the information. If they are just listening to a tour guide ramble on about unfamiliar details, children can tune them out.

torture museums are a fun distraction for the kids
torture museums are a fun distraction for the kids
the Vatican

IMG_5505         Suggested reading:

  • Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker
  • Pompeii….Buried Alive by Davis
  • Italy ABC’s Katz and Eitzen
  • Kids’ Travel Guide–Italy by Leon & Flying Kids

Recommended tour guide:

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