Italy tops the list for family friendly holidays, for Italians adore children and go to extra lengths to make them feel comfortable, be it in restaurants or hotels. Families are not only welcomed, they are embraced by the tourism industry and well-catered for at most establishments.
Umbria and Tuscany, ever-popular with families, are famous for their stunning landscapes and idyllic medieval hill-towns. The entire region is a wonderland for young and old alike. Grown ups can indulge in gastronomic delights like local wines, olive oils, truffles, meats and cuisine; while children are charmed by the pretty villages, wide spaces of countryside to roam, and spectacular pageants and festivals. This relatively small region is easy to explore; many of the interesting towns and festivals can be reached by train or, for better mobility, by hired car.
One event at the top of some “must-see” lists is the Palio di Siena, hosted annually since 1644 in the World Heritage City of Sienna. There two races every year, one held In July and one in August. Each race features ten riders representing some of the city wards. The race is short, but the costumes and electric energy is unrivaled by anything other than a major sporting event. Be prepared for heaving crowds, but the event is unique and worth making the effort to attend.
Another colourful horse event is the Giostra del Saracino, or Joust of the Saracen in Arezzo that takes place in the town of Arezzo. The first jousts are held in the evenings in June, repeating again in September when eight costumed knights fight a wooden “Saracen” mounted on a swiveling platform. The tournament dates back to the 1600s and begins with a colourful procession of costumed participants. In the main event of the day, the knights use lances and try to hit the wooden saracen’s shield without getting knocked over. The winner of this joust receives a coveted prize — a golden lance. The joust is a ticketed event, but with a little advanced planning you should be able to obtain tickets, and it is easy to find a good viewing spot to watch the parade. The kids will love seeing the costumes and horses on this vibrant day of pomp and ceremony.
In Autumn, there are numerous food and wine festivals in the region. On the third Sunday of September, the town of Citerna hosts its annual Grape Festival of Pristino. This is one of Umbria’s finest events of the year. The town opens up its taverns to serve local products, musicians entertain, and locals cook food according to ancient recipes. And not to be missed is the Palio of the Barrel, a competition between four districts of the town to see who is the reigning champion of grape crushing and barrel running!
In mid-October, the Eurochocolate Festival takes over the town of Perugia (the closest airport to Villa Pia is Perugia). This international chocolate exhibition is the largest chocolate festival in Umbria — perhaps in Italy — and features a variety of demonstrations, events and activities that animate the streets of Perugia.
In late October/early November, the small town of Citta di Castello hosts the Mostra del Tartufo Bianco Citta di Cestello, or the white truffle market. The entire town celebrates the truffle harvest with cooking demonstrations, market stalls and samplings, and restaurants prepare white truffle dishes. There are also plenty of activities for the children. It’s a fabulous way to celebrate a regional delicacy while taking in a beautiful Umbrian town.
Find out more about the all-inclusive, affordable packages for families saying on the border of Tuscany and Umbria at Villa Pia’s web site.
This post was authored by MothersandShakers.