We combined our trip to Italy with our trip to Switzerland by driving to the Lake Como area from Lucerne. Google maps may tell you the trip will only take a few hours, but Google maps has not seen the windy Italian roads.
We finally arrived at our destination, Trezzone, Italy, later than we expected. In typical Italian fashion the check in process was very informal for our rental. Read: I’m not sure they were expecting us. But all worked out in the end.
The nice thing about Trezzone was that you could get a house with a view for a good price, the downfall was that it was a little rural and far away from tourist activities.
We stayed in a beautiful home on Lake Como. (Yes, the same lake George Clooney lives on!)
Trezzone is not the most central village in Northern Italy, but you can get a great place there without paying a ton of money.
From our base in Trezzone with explored the area via day trip in our rental. If you find yourself in Northern Italy with kids here are some things to do that I would recommend from our trip.
1. Visit Milan
Milan is a big city. Very big. Much bigger than I expected. It has all the Italian charm, but lots of hustle and bustle. You kind of have to see Il Duomo – the city’s cathedral. It is impressive like most European cathedrals.
The squares are a great place for kids to run around and chase pigeons. Many on the streets are wide and nice for walking around. My recommendation is to just stroll and find a nice place to eat, stroll some more and see where the city takes you.
Note: Italians love kids, so don’t be surprised if your babies get a lot of attention.
2. Check out an Italian Toy Store
Like I mentioned, Italy is kid friendly. Italians like kids and there a lot of amenities for them. Quercetti and Chicco are both Italian toy brands. Chicco actually has their headquarters in Como, Italy. A toy store stop is just the thing to balance out more “adult” activities, and it’s interesting for grown-ups to see the differences between toy stores in Italy and back home.
Bonus: Read this book with your kids before you go.
3. Eat Gelato
This will probably be the kid’s favorite activity. When in Rome right? Kids getting tired of traveling, take a gelato break.
4. Visit Gardaland – the Disneyland of Northern Italy
Gardaland a smaller amusement park (by American standards) but still loads of fun. It’s located at the bottom of Lago di Garda, hence the name. It is loved by all, even reviewers on Google. I personally think visiting an amusement park is just as much a cultural experience as visiting a museum in a foreign country (and usually more fun).
5. Visit Parco Giardino Sigurtà
One of the top gardens in all of Europe, this enormous park is a beautiful adventure that everyone in the family can enjoy. It’s so large that they have little trains to take you around the park because walking the whole thing would take days. There is something for every kid: a labyrinth, a farm with animals, a fountain, lots of green spaces to run, and best of all a castle. Take a look at the Parco Giardino Sigurta’s Instagram account to get a feel of how amazing this park is.
6. Enjoy La Dolce Vita
Cheesy I know, but something about the light and beauty of Italy really makes you enjoy life. So take some time to step back and just drink a good espresso. It will also help with the jet lag.
7. Visit Lugano
We love this mid-sized Northern Italian city – it is the perfect mix of Swiss and Italian cultures and architecture. It’s pretty, clean and very walkable. So just go exploring. We found some great fountains and sculptures to marvel at. Also, they have a Coop City, my go to eating destination in Switzerland. Play area and good, well-priced food? What parent wouldn’t love it?
8. Take a Drive into the Alps
Especially if you or your loved ones want to feel like you’re in a European car commercial. The Alps are famous for a reason, they really are beautiful. Take note that all the little ski villages are virtually empty in the off season.
9. Go Shopping for Produce
This is somewhat seasonal, but Italy has amazing produce. It really is that much better. When we were there I had the best persimmons of my life, other persimmons don’t even come close. I will forever be a persimmon snob thanks to Italy.
10. Visit a Lighthouse
Something about lighthouses makes them seem so magical and romantic. Italian lighthouses are also ancient and full of history. You would be surprised how many you can find. Here is a full list.
11. Eat the Regional Food
The regions of Italy are very distinct because Italy has only been a whole country since 1861. So each region has it’s own food. Such as Naples is the capital of pizza. Northern Italy lays claim to gnocchi, risotto, and polenta. Each restaurant seems to have its own way of preparing these so there are endless possibilities!
Start making trip prep easier on you, get the kids involved in the packing. It’s a win-win. Get the free kids packing list printable below