1/10 Riva Del Garda, Lake Garda
Why go? Plenty of space and scope for keeping toddlers busy, Riva del Garda, on the north side of the Lake, is a fantastic base.
Activities: Head for the castle grounds for picnics or amble along the lakeside walkways, gardens and beach or playgrounds.
Toddlers love transport and here they can experience the tram ride to the top of Monte Baldo and the ferry to Limone.
There’s also the aquarium at Gardaland, better suited to toddlers than the adrenelin rides in the theme park.
2/10 Porto Cesareo, Puglia
Why go? This lively fishing village on the Ionian Sea has white sand and numerous islands dotted around the harbour. Locals refer to it as the ‘Maldives of Salento’.
Activities: As well as ticking the boxes for the grown ups – did we mention the fresh seafood – toddlers will love the beaches and older siblings will want to try out the kids’ park. Then tell them they can actually walk across the shallow protected water to ‘The Island of Rabbits’.
3/10 Genoa Aquarium
Why go? If you’ve been working hard to deter your toddler from blowing bubbles and being mischievous, don’t take them to see the dolphins here. Bad influence! The second largest aquarium in Europe is set up for children of all ages, from two to 19. They’ll love the variety of what they can experience in the different types of seas and will be mesmerised by tropical pools in the Amazon, Red Sea coral reefs and 3D films bringing this magical underwater world closer to them.
Price: Adults from £16. Under threes go free.
More info: Visit acquariodigenova.it
4/10 Lucca, Tuscany
Why go? What toddlers do best is to keep moving – the beauty of Italy’s medieval towns such as Lucca is that most are walled and traffic free.
Activities: There are narrow streets to run around and plenty of cafés and restaurants with space for children to play. Unlike many of the Tuscan towns, Lucca is flat, too, and you can easily walk the three-mile circle of the ramparts – or push a buggy.
You should also check out Pinocchio Park in nearby Collodi. Young children will love it and you can picnic in the park.
5/10 Parco Naturale di Cervia
Why go? This huge botanical park is free entry for the whole family and is the perfect place for little legs to let off steam or have some down time.
Activities: Young children will love feeling all of the different tree barks and spotting the diverse range of berries and leaves – there are plenty of identification games to make up – but their highlight will probably be the donkeys, deers, horses, goats, ducks, peacocks and chickens. Older children (100-140 cm height) and adults can try Tarzan-style treetop adventure trails.
More info: www.turismo.comunecervia.it
Why go? Imagine being a hobbit in Lord of the Rings, where the little round beehive shape houses are just your size. That’s why toddlers will love the trulli in Alberrobello.
Activities: The trulli are rustic buildings dotted all over Puglia but this town, the trullo capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park on corner of Via Indipendenza and Via Brigata Regina offers a handy space for running around after darting in and out of these little cone houses – many of which are now shops in the centre of town. It’s also a good picnic spot.
7/10 Agriturismo Sicily
Why go? Each year (around April) little people will feel quite at home in Modica during the Willy Wonkeresque Eurochocoloate festival. Children can watch chocolate being made, as well as sample the best icecream in Italy – and they can hunt for monsters on the walls of the intricate stone palazzi.
Activities: All year round, you can retreat from the crowds to a 44-hectare farm ‘Nacalino Agriturismo’, with its swimming pool, paths that are great for toddling, buggies or bikes, and horses to meet in the stables. All of the buildings are child friendly and seaside resorts are nearby.
More info: nacalinoagriturismo.it
Why go? The Piazza Navona Christmas Market sees the square transform into a vibrant trading place, and street artists and acrobats will capture imaginations and curiosity.
Activities: Visit the Casina di Raffaello (Tues – Friday 3-5pm) where children three and up are invited to escape the digital world.
Also in Rome is Explora, the Museum of the Children of Rome. The Under 3s Lil’ Explorers section (entry €3) has a scented tunnel, musical instruments, light sticks, kaleidoscopes and plenty of space! Booking during the holidays is essential.
Book: Visit Family Traveller Holidays to book your family holiday to Rome
Why go? Toddlers might not want to trawl around art galleries and museums but there are plenty of other treats to take in.
Activities: The Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti is a perfect picnic spot and little monkeys can climb trees and enjoy the space. If you’re there in the summer, the gardens will offer shade but there is also the Costoli Pool with waves, paddling pool and water slides. It costs €6 per adult. You’ll also love the colourful icecreams too.
Don’t dismiss the museums, the Da Vinci museum is hands-on with plenty to keep an older toddler interested. It’s on Via dei Servi, near the Duomo.
10/10 Scaligeri Castle, Soave
Why go? Everything a knight-in-training could want, the medieval Scaligeri Castle has a drawbridge, grassy courtyards, stone carvings of knights’ busts, suits of armour, and the fortress feel created by the turrets and walls containing the village – all good fighting fun!
Activities: There are ornate doorways lining the cobbled narrow streets on the way up to the castle, but it is a hike and buggy wheels will make the journey difficult. The view at the top is worth the climb and there are vineyards to explore nearby and picnic spots to enjoy – but it’s the drawbridge the toddlers will enjoy the most.