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Tuscany with a toddler

As a surprise for my mum’s 70th, my dad invited us on a pre Easter break to a house he’d rented in San Lorenzo a Vaccoli, a sleepy village a few kilometres outside of Lucca, in Italy’s Tuscany region.

The ratio of 4 adults to one toddler certainly made things a little easier with Roo. She had a brilliant time! Here’s some of the things we liked:

Flying

In contrast to the last time we flew with Roo, this time we’d deliberately not booked flights which demanded us be at the airport at some ungodly hour. This meant that she wasn’t tired and therefore in a good mood.

We were also a lot more prepared this time, we didn’t forget to bring her headphones or iPad pre-loaded with Peppa Pig.

The weather on the way out made for an especially memorable flight over the Alps. I really love this picture of Roo, captivated by the view:

Roo, captivated by the view of the Alps from 38,000 ft
Roo, captivated by the view of the Alps from 38,000 ft
The view of the Alps
The view of the Alps

Our house

Our little home from home wasn’t so little! Being early in the season meant we picked up a bargain, and we’re able to stay in a massive country villa with amazing views. Roo especially loved the large fenced gardens, meaning she could tear around outside in relative safety. Being independent is increasingly important to her at the moment, so this was great.

Our villa for the week in San Lorenzo a Vaccoli, Lucca
Our villa for the week in San Lorenzo a Vaccoli, Lucca

Pisa

Although she quite enjoyed having her picture taken holding up the leaning tower, Pisa isn’t the most relaxing place to visit with a small child. We spent a few hours here, but any more would’ve pushed Roo over the edge and into the canyon of tantrum.

Of course we had to take this shot of the Leaning Tower
Of course we had to take this shot of the Leaning Tower

One thing we did really like here was the Botanical Gardens. These we’re uncrowded and gave Roo ample room to run around amongst the beautiful flowers. If you find yourself in Pisa with a small child, seek them out. For only €4 an adult, they’re the perfect antidote to the crowds in the Square of Miracles.

Grandma and Roo enjoying the shade in the Botanical Gardens in Pisa
Grandma and Roo enjoying the shade in the Botanical Gardens in Pisa

Lucca

Lucca is a fabulous place. We spent a couple of different days here, the first time just for a few hours to grab lunch and explore until the inevitable tiredness-time-bomb went off and a screaming child forced us home for tea.

The second time, while my mum and dad went off to Florence, Katie, Roo and I spent a whole day here. We hired a side-by-side bicycle, which she loved, shouting “ciao” at passers-by.

Katie and Roo cycling on the walls of Lucca.
Katie and Roo cycling on the walls of Lucca.

We had more pizza outside at a lovely restaurant where the staff we’re amazing with Roo, bringing her food out extremely quickly. This is mission critical, as I’m sure anyone with a hungry toddler in a public place will know.

Enjoying some Pizza at Ristorante San Colombano, Lucca
Enjoying some Pizza at Ristorante San Colombano, Lucca

After lunch, with Roo asleep in the push-chair, we explored the tiny winding streets. It was idilic in the afternoon sun. Katie went off to shop, and I took the opportunity to climb the recently restored Torre Delle Ore. The effort of climbing the 470 steps was rewarded at the top with an amazing view of the whole city and surrounding hills.

The view from the top of the Torre Delle Ore, Lucca
The view from the top of the Torre Delle Ore, Lucca

Roo woke up on the way back to the car, just as we were passing the merry go round. “I go on that?” she said. How could we refuse?

Katie and Roo enjoying the Merry-go-round, goodness knows who she’s waving at
Katie and Roo enjoying the Merry-go-round, goodness knows who she’s waving at

I’d highly recommend Lucca as an easy city to visit with a toddler. It had none of the crowds of Pisa, and felt an altogether more chilled out place.

In summary

We really hit the jackpot with both the location and weather for our week in northern Tuscany. There’s lot to enjoy for little people in this region if you’re prepared to miss out on some of the more famous places, and go where the crowds aren’t. We certainly had a brilliant time!

Katie, my dad and mum in the grounds of our villa on the last day
Katie, my dad and mum in the grounds of our villa on the last day