With the hills of Chianti to the north and the Val d’Orcia to the south, Siena is ideally located for a Tuscan family escape. After your youngsters have explored the medieval old town's winding streets and wide squares, it’s a quick trip to the surrounding hill towns and countryside for family-friendly adventures, from truffle hunts to scenic walks and bike rides.
Our sons especially loved staying in Siena since the old town is a city-wide scavenger hunt, divided into 17 contrade (neighborhoods) named after animals or objects. We spent our afternoons wandering the back lanes to spot giraffes, snails, unicorns, and other symbols decorating the historic buildings and fountains. Here are my tips for family fun in Siena.
The summer sun in Siena is relentless; plan outdoor activities for early morning and late afternoon.
If you only have time for one thing, make it climbing the Tower of Mangia for bird’s-eye views over the old town and outlying hills.
Next, break up the sightseeing with a family-focused cooking class at a Chianti farmhouse. Let your budding chefs get hands-on in a pasta-making lesson, then learn the secrets to making tiramisù and other classic Italian dishes. Relax and enjoy a rustic dinner featuring the dishes your family prepared together.
Just south of Siena is the UNESCO-listed hills of the Val d’Orcia, dotted with historic estates where sheep and heirloom Cinta Senese pigs roam. Connect with a local farming family this morning to learn about how the animals are raised and sample artisan pecorino cheese and charcuterie or enjoy a farm-to-table lunch.
In the afternoon, continue to elegant Pienza, one of the most beautiful hill towns in the Val d’Orcia. Take a walk through its tiny Renaissance center, stopping for gelato. Older kids will enjoy a guided tour to learn more about this unique town’s history and architecture.