Car-free streets, friendly people, and beautiful surroundings. These are just some of the ingredients that make Cortona an enjoyable destination if you are traveling with young children. Here are some tips and ideas on what to do in Cortona with kids.
Cortona is for families
My recommendations on what to see and where to go in Cortona with kids
The first thing to know is there is a convenient playground at the Parterre gardens! It includes swings, a slide, and a playhouse. The location is amazing and it is highly popular among local children all year round. Great if you wish to mingle with locals and let your kids play and run free.
If you are in Cortona with kids in their school years, I recommend you to visit the MAEC Museum. The archaeological museum is full of interesting pieces and history from different centuries. If well explained, kids can imagine a wonderful journey starting from the bones of prehistoric animals to gold pieces and vases handmade by Etruscans. They can see rooftops and statues made by Romans, an Etruscan chandelier hanging on the ceiling, and a contract (the Tabula Cortonensis) sculpted in bronze, from 2000 years ago! They will see coins used in Medieval times, books and swords from the XVIII century, and even a couple of mummies from Egypt! The pieces collected by the Etruscan Academy over the years are so diverse and interesting that the museum is really a journey in time. Always worth a visit.
Another idea for kids in Cortona is to visit the fortress, Fortezza del Girifalco. This is open only during the spring-summer season, but the view is incredible and always worth a visit. The building will seem like a castle to kids’ eyes. They can imagine the battles that back in the centuries protected Cortona from enemies, the openings from where they shot, and the walkaways over the walls where they would watch the valley! There is also a convenient cafè for snacks and refreshments.
Cortona with kids: activities to do in town
In Cortona, you can arrange a cooking class – lots of people who organize this kind of service will offer a kids’ option. What’s better than learning how to make fresh pasta hands-on with your little ones?
Another cool activity might be taking a ceramic class. The traditional ceramic shops in town will help you arrange an experience suitable for the whole family. And you’ll have unique hand-made souvenirs to bring home!
If you visit during the Summer months, the heat may be annoying and sometimes hard to bear with kids… the solution here is having a swimming pool! If your hotel or villa doesn’t include a private pool, don’t worry! Cortona has its own public swimming pool as well. It is usually open from early June to early September, located above the hill at the end of Parterre. The entrance fee is low (5-7€) and it’s usually not crowded, perfect to relax, swim, play and escape the heat!
If you stay a longer time (I would say a few weeks) it might be a smart solution to sign your kids up for a summer camp. Ask around in town – normally, they organize summer camps either at the public pool or at the gym, including different sports and activities such as swimming, soccer, tennis, etc. They are usually all Italians but English might be spoken too.
During the winter months, the MAEC museum and its staff usually organize a series of events and activities specially designed for kids. I’m talking about theme parties (Halloween, for example), workshops based on archaeology and history, art workshops, and a playroom. Ask them for a calendar and more information.
Last but not least, during the winter months, the Signorelli Teather is also a cinema and on weekends afternoons, kids’ movies are often on the schedule.
Cortona with kids: ideas on what to do outside the town
Other ideas on where to go and what to do with small kids are all about the surroundings of Cortona.
The first thing that comes to my mind is spending an afternoon at Trasimeno Lake. Visit the fortress at Castiglione del Lago, get a gelato along the lakeshore, sunbathe (and bathe!) during the summer at their beaches, and take a ferry boat to Isola Maggiore. These are only some of the possible activities. Not bad at all to spend some quality family time!
Another idea to spend a fun morning may be going to the market in Camucia. It is always lively, there is a playground for kids and you can enjoy some shopping. Here you can get excellent cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Also, don’t miss a snack with the typical porchetta sandwich!
Finally, if you are in Cortona with kids you can not miss the amazing countryside! Enjoy a bike tour or take a hike through the gravel roads, visit a winery, take a Vespa tour or arrange a horse riding. You will breathe fresh air and enjoy the many different views of Cortona from the distance!
Even if you don’t want an organized tour, have a look at the “Sentiero della Bonifica”. This is a car-free path crossing the whole Valdichiana, running on the edges of the rivers and canals of the area. Perfect for Spring walks or bike tours, and following the paths it’s impossible to get lost.