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 are some of the things we liked:


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 she wasn’t tired and, therefore, in a good mood.

We were also much 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 incredibly memorable flight over the Alps. I love this picture of Roo, captivated by the view:

Roo, fascinated by the view of the Alps from 38,000ft

Our house

Our tiny home from home wasn’t so little! Being early in the season meant we picked up a bargain, and we could stay in a massive country villa with amazing views. Roo especially loved the extensive 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 home for the week, a typical-style large Italian villa in Tuscany


Although she 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 tantrums.

Roo and Katie holding up the leaning tower of Pizza

One thing we did really like here was the Botanical Gardens. These were 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


Lucca is a fabulous place. We spent a couple of 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 exploring Lucca’s historic streets and the wall around the city. We hired a side-by-side bicycle, which she loved, shouting “ciao” at passers-by.

Katie and Roo ride a 4-person bike along the city walls in Lucca

The pizza at Ristorante San Colombano was incredible! We were outside so Roo could make as much mess as she pleased. The staff were terrific with her, bringing food exceptionally quickly. This is mission critical, as I’m sure anyone with a hungry toddler in a public place will know.

Roo enjoying some Pizza at Ristorante San Colombano, Lucca

After lunch, we explored the tiny winding streets with Roo asleep in the push-chair. It was idyllic 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 a fantastic view of the whole city and surrounding hills.

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

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

Katie and Roo enjoying the Merry-go-round. It is unclear who Roo is waving at.

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

In summary

We hit the jackpot with the location and weather for our week in northern Tuscany. There’s a 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 on the grounds of our villa on the last day