Ciao–I’m Jane, and this is a Day in the Life of a mom in Pisa, Italy.
My husband and I moved to Italy from the U.S. just over two years ago with our two daughters who are now three-and-a-half and six. Italy is a wonderful place to raise small children because the whole community values and includes children in all aspects of daily life. Living in Tuscany as a family affords us easy access to many beautiful towns, sights, wineries, and even the seaside. Saturdays are when we typically take a day trip to a nearby town such as Florence, Portovenere, or San Miniato. However, we often stay closer to home and enjoy the offerings in our immediate area, which is what I chose to highlight in this Day in the Life.
7:30 AM Morning–Easing Into the Weekend
We don’t set any alarms on weekends. Usually, one of our girls wakes us up crawling into our bed for a snuggle and then quickly requesting (or should I say demanding?) breakfast. Even after two years in Italy, we still love a good hearty American breakfast. On weekends, we scramble eggs and fry up some hash-browns while the kids watch TV or play together and we sip our coffee. After everybody has eased into the day a bit, the girls get dressed and head out to play.
10:00 AM Outdoor Playtime
We live by a small town at the base of the Montepisano hills, a few kilometers from Pisa’s town center. Since we’re in the countryside, we’re fortunate to have a nice outdoor area for the kids to play. Our best mornings are when our landlord–viewed by our kids as their Italian grandpa or nonno–comes by to tend to his lovely yard which we graciously call our own. He also checks up on our garden which he has been patiently teaching me to plant every spring. In the summertime, mornings are the best time to play outside as the sun isn’t too strong and mosquitos aren’t too active yet. The heat gets intense in the afternoon. Meanwhile, my husband I discuss our plans for the day, clean up the kitchen, and take care of any other household chores before heading out on a small adventure.
12:30 PM On–Lunch & A Winery Tour
We enjoy discovering new restaurants and wineries. We often do this at lunch as the kids are generally too tired at Italian dinner time–7:30 PM or later–to sit for a long restaurant meal. We look for a restaurant with outdoor seating/access where the kids can wander a little while waiting for lunch. Our Saturday lunch can include a wine tasting at a local winery. Today, we reserved both lunch and a winery tour at the Fattoria Uccelliera, just south of Pisa and a short 25-minute drive from our home. If we had wanted an English-speaking tour, we would have been out of luck having only booked this morning. As we all speak Italian, we had no problem.
Touring a winery with kids may seem an odd choice, but it’s actually a wonderful experience because it includes plenty of outdoor time in beautiful surroundings. Our kids enjoy touring the vineyards, especially when the grapes are out. They also love discovering wildflowers and other interesting things, such as the occasional animal. Italians are extremely inclusive of children and we’ve yet to feel like our little ones weren’t welcome. At Fattoria Uccelliera, they even served the children juice and bread with honey. They also gave them drawing paper and their own mini-sized wine glass to feel important. Our lunch spread was impressive featuring a variety of Tuscan meats, cheese, bruschetta, honey, and jams, not to mention their estate’s fresh pressed olive oil. While my husband and I enjoyed sampling their wines, the kids found buckets of corks and had a blast creating shapes with them and inventing games (e.g., rolling the corks down the stairs).
5:00 PM Evening–A Passeggiata in Pisa
In Italy, the evening hours before dinner are known for the passegiata, when people head into the town center for a stroll, to see their friends, shop, or indulge in an aperitivo (a daily happy-hour-like event) at a bar. This is a fun time in any Italian city and Pisa is no exception–it just comes to life. There’s no shortage of families pushing strollers or little ones astride small ride-on toys including plastic motorcycles or scooters. Now that we graduated from the stroller stage, we’ve discovered the joy of bringing scooters into town. Our kids instantly have more fun with these than walking. They’re able to go a bit further than they normally would on foot. Our scooters fold up and have a strap for carrying them if needed. We do this if the kids get tired, want to walk instead, or if we’re in an area which is difficult for them to navigate on a scooter.
After strolling down Corso Italia, we stop for gelato (Italian ice cream) at Gelateria di Toto where they serve a variety of classic and unique flavors loved by the whole family. Once we’ve finished our gelato, we wander down to our go-to area for aperitivo, Piazza Chiara Gambicorti. Only a block off of the busy Corso Italia, this piazza boasts a large open space bordered by a number of bars and restaurants that offer no shortage of tables for sitting and enjoying an aperitivo. The aperitivo is often served with a small buffet offering of snacks. At this time of day, the piazza’s open space becomes a communal area populated by local children drawing with chalk, riding on toys, or playing soccer. Since our kids are used to playing in the piazza while staying within our line of sight, my husband and I can relax with fellow parents.
Thanks to its nice staff and appetizing buffet, Eleven Cafe is one of our preferred bars to relax. Next door, we found a new favorite, Jhonny Paranza, which serves a variety of fried “street food.” Our kids adore their fried calamari which they eat up like candy. It’s totally kid friendly since they open at 7 PM and the service there is quick. We can grab a quick and satisfying bite, walk back to our car, and make it back home close to the kids’ usual 8:30 PM bedtime.
By Italian standards, our American children go to bed quite early, as children in Italy typically turn in after 10 PM. Since our kids don’t have preschool on Sunday, we try to be flexible on Saturday and allow them to stay up a little later if they behave. This means a carousel ride in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele before driving home. After a fun-filled busy day, they usually collapse into bed without a peep. Saturdays in Tuscany are the best!