I am not sure whether I am more proud or humbled after traveling solo with my littles. On one hand, we always come back alive with epic memories and better bonds between each other. On the other hand, I inevitably find myself a bit wiped out and swimming upstream in some awkward situation—most of which involve bodily functions that even a triple-ply solution can’t fix, much less European Reynold’s wrap-like toilet paper!
It was sunny, bustling Florence, Italy, teeming with scooters, museums and gelato shops—what fun! I was 30 weeks pregnant and traveling with my other three bambinos (ages 5, 3 and 18 months). We were flying in from Nuremburg on Ryanair for a mere 15 Euro per person (not including price for seat belt and oxygen). My parents-in-law were also visiting Florence for a bike tour in the region. The plan was to spend a few days with them before traveling solo via train to Verona; meet up with my husband and continue to Venice for a fun-filled four-day weekend.
Florence and the surrounding region (e.g., Pisa, Sienna, Lucca, San Gimignano) is packed with opportunities for all ages (NOT JUST THOSE WITHOUT KIDS). Although I decided not to take my kids to sights like the Accademia (where the Statue of David is displayed), we loved hopping into places like the Medici Chapels and Santa Croce Church, where we were able to view (for free and no lines) Michelangelo’s intricate carvings of the royal Medici family’s tombs and their crown jewels as well as crypts of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. The hands-on Da Vinci and Galileo museums were favorites, as well as the carousel near Palazzo Vecchio, gelato, and amazing chalk pastel artwork on the streets. We definitely did not exhaust the opportunities, and I would love to revisit!
In Florence, I frugally booked a sparse but unique room at a Franciscan convent that was walkable from Ponte Vecchio (Florence’s most famous bridge). We LOVED their continental breakfast, which is pretty much our priority, and the grounds were peaceful yet family friendly. However, after one night, we were moved to a different room. The new bathroom was not in our room but outside our creaky door, across a little study area and through a tiny door that was formerly a utility closet. Please note: I had a newly potty-trained three year old and an eighteen month old, who would not fall back asleep without abundant tears. So, any midnight potty need would risk a room full of all-night tears.
No matter how many times I encouraged my kids to potty BEFORE BED, someone needed to potty at 3am!!! Thank the Lord, we were able to stealthily slip past my toddler unnoticed. However, one particular night, I took my daughter to the restroom, but she needed to go a second time. I couldn’t bear the thought of waking my toddler, so ….oh the shame….I asked my dainty three-year-old to potty in the hotel sink! In the morning, I found some cleaner. Then, we brushed our teeth in that sink, and made a clean get-away for Verona.
Thanks for reading!