Italy with teens – all you need to know to plan the perfect family trip to Italy with your teenager!
Visiting the Colosseum with a baby in tow is memorable for mom and dad.
Kids in a gondola winding down a Venetian canal in the evening makes a great photo for the scrapbook.
But visiting Italy can be a life-changing experience for your teenager!
While younger children may not remember an Italian vacation (or they only remember the pizza and gelato), teenagers are at a critical point in their lives and a trip to Italy can open their eyes to:
- a different culture
- a new language
- 2000+ years of history wherever you look
- and more!
Teens are under so much pressure to do well in school and figure out what they want to do with their lives. A trip to Italy can help open a teenager’s eyes to new possibilities and paths for his or her future.
I’ve seen video-game-obsessed teens come to Italy and not pick up electronics for a week. I’ve seen teenagers that have just entered university choose to be architecture majors after visiting Italy. Just out of my teen years when I first traveled to Italy, I eventually changed career paths and ended up moving here!
Taking a family trip to Italy with teens is also a great way to introduce them to Europe before studying abroad. It will show them that a trip to Italy can be more than partying and hanging out with others from their home country.
There are some special considerations to consider when planning your trip to Italy with teens. And you’ll want to plan at least part of your Italy itinerary around your teenager’s interests.
Are you ready to plan your trip to Italy with teens? Andiamo! (Let’s go!)
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Planning Your Italy Trip With Teens
Let Your Teen Help With The Planning
We all care more about something when we’ve invested time or energy in it. Have your teenager be involved in the planning of the trip. This may mean discussing itineraries together, choosing museums or cities to visit, or even assigning the planning of a day or afternoon of the trip to your teen.
See our post on the Best Things To Do In Florence + What To Skip!
Encourage Your Teen To Learn Some Italian
Learning a little bit (or a lot) of Italian will help your teenager immerse him/herself in Italy. Italians love speaking their language with visitors and appreciate the effort made.
Knowing some of the Italian language will give your teen some independence – after all, aren’t we all more confident in any situation if we can communicate well?
A few ways your teenager can learn some Italian before coming to Italy:
- Practice daily using an app like DuoLingo
- Join an in-person language class
- Try and at-your-own-pace program like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur
Prepare By Reading Books About Italy And Watching Movies About Italy Before You Go
Read Books About Italy:
Watch Movies That Are Set In Italy (English):
Angels & Demons (2009) – Trailer
Casino Royale (2006):
The Italian Job (2003):
Under The Tuscan Sun (2003) – Trailer
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003) – Trailer
Gladiator (2000) – Trailer
Only You (1994) – Trailer
A Room With A View (1985) – Trailer
Ben Hur (1959) – Trailer
Roman Holiday (1953):
Movies That Are Set In Italy (Italian With Subtitles):
Il Postino (1994) – Trailer
Cinema Paradiso (1988):
Download Podcasts and Audio Tours For Museums
If you don’t have a live guide, try to download a podcast or audio tour for the museum or area you’ll be visiting. Check out Rick Steves’ audio guides – he gives great info in a conversational way that keeps you engaged. Your teenager can download the audio guides as a podcast or play them on the Rick Steves Audio Europe app.
Book The Right Accommodation
You are probably more than aware that teens need their own space. So, don’t try to put everyone in one hotel room. Get connecting hotel rooms or adjacent hotel rooms.
Another option is to rent an apartment.
If you can, try to stay in the center so your teen can explore a bit on his/her own.
Make sure WI-FI is available so your teenager can check in with friends back home.
Tip – If you’re coming in the summer (and you probably are if your kids are in school), check that your accommodation has A/C. Italy can be very hot in the summer and if your hotel or apartment doesn’t have screens, you won’t be able to open the windows (the mosquitoes here are relentless!).
Research Your Family History
This won’t apply to all families, but if you have some Italian family background, do some research before heading to Italy. Have your teenager find out which region or town your family comes from and try to weave a visit into your trip.
Even if you don’t have an Italian family background, you could have your teen find out where your family’s favorite pasta recipe comes from, or where a great-grandparent served in the armed forces.
Any way you can help your teen find a link to the area will help make the trip to Italy even more meaningful.
During Your Italy Trip With Teens – 9 Helpful Tips
Don’t Pack The Days With Sightseeing
Your teen will probably want to have time to communicate with friends from home, stay up-to-date with social media, read, or spend time solo. Build time into the day and let your teen know when it will happen.
If your family likes to sleep in, have the free time be in the morning while everyone gets breakfast at his/her own pace.
If your family is up and ready to go in the mornings, go with it! Then, schedule time in the afternoon before dinner for everyone to spend as they wish.
Limit The Number Of Museums You Visit
The best way to turn someone off of museums for life is to force them to visit too many of them or to visit museums they have zero interest in.
Pick a few museums to visit for the trip (and have your teen be involved in choosing which ones). If you or other family members would like to see more museums, those visits can be part of your free time.
Get A Guide
Never underestimate the power of a guide! Having an expert explain what you’re looking at can really bring a painting, sculpture, or building to life!
Good guides will tailor the experience to your family’s needs:
- Landing in Rome? Have a local guide walk you around town and introduce you to some of the city’s main sites?
- Curious about Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence? A guide can point out details you’d never notice on your own.
- Traveling to the Dolomites? A guide can find the best hike for your teen’s interests or even take him or her on the area’s vie ferrate.
Guides are worth the investment!
Let Them Mingle With Other Teens
Make an effort to get your teen out to mingle with other teens in Italy. He or she will get a teen’s perspective on life in Italy and will experience Italian culture in a way that’s not possible with mom and dad hanging around!
Some of the best places in Italy for your teenager to meet other teens – piazzas! Whether for evening aperitivo or after dinner, piazzas are a central meeting point for the young in Italy. Here are a few Italian piazzas (piazze in Italian) that teens may like:
- Piazza del Campo, Siena
- Piazza Farnese, Rome
- Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence
- Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Torino
- Piazza Duomo, Milan
- Campo Santo Stefano, Venice
Tip – Scope out the scene in the piazza before letting your teen hang out. If your teenager is solo, you can also find a spot in the piazza and enjoy aperitivo at a distance.
Have Your Teen Journal
The days will fly by and when you return home your teenager will want to relive the trip to Italy! Photos definitely help, but having your teen record thoughts and impressions in a journal is a great idea. Even a few sentences a night will be meaningful and it won’t take up much time.
Make School Come To Life
Have your teen choose something from school to find ‘in person’ in Italy. It may be a painting he or she studied in class, a monument from a history lesson, or a passage from a book assigned in class.
Teens will love exploring Dante’s house in Florence, standing in front of the Roman Forum, or having a close-up look at the Last Supper in Milan. Teens that work on the school paper can check out the Italian newspapers.
Your teen may even find a once-boring subject has become interesting in Italy!
Let Your Teen Make Spending Decisions
While older teens may be used to being in charge of their own finances, younger teens will appreciate the independence and responsibility of making spending decisions while in Italy.
You can give a small allowance for expenses like gelato, souvenirs, aperitivo, etc.
Let your teenager help decide which tours to go on, which picnic supplies to buy at the grocery store, or which outdoor cafe to choose for aperitivo.
Encourage Your Teen To Join A Class Or Camp With Other Teens
Classes or camps can be planned in advance, but there are plenty that can be booked at the last minute (especially classes). You’ll also need to consider how long your trip is – you probably don’t want your teen to spend a week of a 10-day trip on her own at camp (or maybe you do).
If there’s a must-do class or camp, be sure to book ahead of time. Otherwise, see what interests your teen while in Italy and try to immerse him or her in it as much as you can.
For example, if your teenager is loving the meals in Italy and is curious about the ingredients and cooking methods, enroll him in a market visit and cooking class. Or, if you’ve got a soccer-obsessed daughter, enroll her in a camp here in the land of calcio!
Language classes are a great way to meet other teens, as there are many teens studying abroad (high school or university) and learning the language.
Give Your Teen Some Independence
Try giving your teenager some free time to explore during your Italy trip. You can set meeting times and meeting locations and stress the importance of checking in.
You can also track each other on your cell phones or have your teen send messages to check-in.
Let Your Teen Use Their Mobile Phone
Yes, I know you’re probably wishing your teen would just leave his or her mobile phone at home. But, as I mentioned, they can help your teen have some independence on your trip to Italy, and he or she will probably want to keep in touch with friends at home via messaging and the latest apps.
You’ll need to either get an international plan with your home country cell service provider or purchase an Italian SIM card. It’s really easy to get one here in Italy – just walk into a provider (I recommend Vodafone or TIM) with your passport and let them know what you need (voice minutes to the US, data, etc.) and how long you’ll be visiting. This SIM option is usually much less expensive than international plans, but you have to physically go into a store in Italy.
There are online providers with electronic SIMs, but I recommend using on-the-ground providers here because you have someone you can go to if you have a problem.
Where To Go In Italy With Teens – Explore Your Teen’s Interests!
The best thing you can do for your teenager on your family’s trip to Italy is to make sure you find a way to weave your teen’s interests into your itinerary. Fortunately, that’s easy to do in Italy because Italy really does have something for everyone! Below are some ideas for things to do in Italy with your teenager. Remember that your teen should also do some research before your trip to find Italian activities, events, museums, experiences, and destinations that he or she is interested in.
Check out our post on the Best Things to Do in Tuscany!
History On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Explore Rome – the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Vatican Museums
- Visit Pompeii & Erculaneum near Naples
- Imagine Roman daily life while exploring Aquilea in Friuli
Culture On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Check out the catacombs in Rome
- Imagine cave life in the sassi in Scicli in Sicily
- Explore the sassi in Matera
- Wear a mask and attend Carnevale in Venice
- Look up at Juliet’s balcony in Verona
- Mingle with locals at markets
- Find the film locations of the Da Vinci code or Twilight
- See a concert – Italian or non-Italian (check out upcoming dates on Ticket One)
- Be a tifoso (fan) at a calcio match (soccer game)
- Join the passionate fans at the Palio horse race in Siena
Food On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Cook pizza in Naples
- Visit Florence’s Sant’Ambrogio market and cook in Florence
- Take a tour of a prosciutto factory in Parma
- Learn how Parma’s parmigiano (Emilia-Romagna) or Pienza‘s pecorino cheese is made (Tuscany)
- Harvest olives in Puglia
- Participate in the grape harvest in Tuscany
Nature and Outdoors On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Drive the Dolomites great road
- Take a boat to view the cliffside villages of the Amalfi Coast
- Watch Stromboli volcano erupt in Sicily
- Bathe in the hotsprings at Bagno Vignoni or Saturnia in Tuscany
- Go on a Vespa tour and visit hilltop towns in the Tuscan countryside
- Relax at the beach in Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany
Sports On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Sail in the turquoise waters of Sardinia
- Go hiking the Cinque Terre
- Cycle the Tuscan hills
- Ski on the Alpe di Siusi in the Dolomites
- Rock climb in the Italian Alps
- Hike on Mt. Etna in Sicily
- Try Kitesurfing on Lake Garda, one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes
- Go on a hut-to-hut hike in the Dolomites, hike to a rifugio, or go rock climbing at the Cinque Torri
- Take a boat from Stresa to visit the gardens of Villa Borromeo on Isola Bella at Lake Maggiore
Fashion On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Attend fashion week in Milan
- Wander around the Ferragamo Shoe Museum and Gucci Museum in Florence
- Visit a sandal maker’s workshop on Capri
- Go shopping on via del Corso or in the hip Monti neighborhood in Rome
- Tour the Florence Leather Factory
- Shop at The Mall Outlet in Tuscany
Art On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- See some of the most incredible art on the planet at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
- View the Last Supper in Milan
- Hang out with Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia in Florence
- Take a 4×4 tour of the Cararra marble quarries in Tuscany
- Soak up the mosaics in Ravenna
- Marvel at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
- See a glass-blowing demonstration in Venice
- Search for street art (like Clet signs in Florence)
Photography On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
Bring your teenager to some of Italy’s most popular sights for photographers:
- Gondolas & Canals, especially at sunset or during the winter (Venice)
- Colosseum (Rome)
- Ponte Vecchio (Florence)
- Duomo (Milan)
- Alpe di Siusi (Dolomites)
- Bay & Buildings (Vernazza)
- Town From Torre Grossa (San Gimignano)
- Vitaleta Chapel (Val d’Orcia)
- Group of Cypress Trees (Val d’Orcia)
- Mosaics of Basilica San Vitale (Ravenna)
- Tiberius Statue & Island (Capri)
- Ruins (Pompei)
- Roman Forum (Rome)
Architecture On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Visit the Colosseum in Rome
- Search for trulli in Puglia
- Marvel at the Pantheon in Rome
- Walk inside St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice
- Find Roman aqueducts throughout the country
Engineering On Your Trip To Italy With Teens
- Tinker with replicas of Leonardo’s inventions at the da Vinci museum in Florence
- Learn about the construction of Italy’s supercars at a Ferrari Museum or the Lamborghini Museum in Emilia-Romagna
Safety Tips For Your Trip To Italy With Teens
I’ve made a point to give your teen some independence during your family’s trip to Italy. However, it’s important to stress to your teen to make good choices while traveling in Italy.
Remind your teenager not to do anything in Italy that he/she wouldn’t do at home. For example, don’t walk alone at night and don’t take a drink from anyone you don’t know.
The drinking age is lower in Italy than in North America and many other places. Italy’s legal drinking age is 18, but younger Italian teenagers are often served without being asked for ID.
Nightclubs stay open late, often until the morning.
Smoking is common in Italy, even among teens.
Which city in Italy is the best for teens?
It all depends on your teen’s interests! But, if I had to choose a city for a teen’s first visit to Italy, I’d recommend Rome. It has something for all interests – art, culture, history, food, museums, nightlife, and more. It has events year-round and the weather is pleasant throughout the year.
How can I convince my teenager to try something other than pizza for dinner?
Encourage your teen to visit a market to see the ingredients of the area you’re in. Find out which dishes are regional specialties and go to a restaurant that serves them. Offer to have pizza for lunches but non-pizza dinners.