1. Agriturismo is the way to go with a toddler in tow
The “agri” stands for agriculture, so what you get is this: working farm + cheap accommodation. The sum is so much more than its constituents though, because it actually means that you get locally grown and home-cooked food without having to cart your toddler to a separate restaurant, stunning countryside views and, best of all, farm animals to entertain said toddler, all at very reasonable prices.
We’ve done this kind of thing three times now and the most we’ve ever paid was €50 per adult (about £40) for:
4-course evening meal
I can’t recommend it enough. And in case you’re interested, the three we’ve been to are:
La Virginia near Turin in Piedmonte
Scuderia Della Valle at the foot of the Alps near Bergamo
Le Giare by the Ligurian Coast
In fact, ours seems to sleep best with a half-eaten piece of bread in his hand.
3. Long drives are excellent for reclaiming couple-time
Mr P&P and I are pretty good at living past each other, most of the time. It’s an inevitable result of juggling two jobs with childcare and little outside help. We realised that a couple of hours in the car, where neither of us is able to blog/write code/do chores is an excellent opportunity for a bit of a catch-up. That is, when the toddler in the back is sleeping, of course.
4. Long drives are excellent for testing your nap time management skills
When it goes right, see above. When it goes wrong, however, it goes something like this:
Driver attempts to drive with ears shut.
Toddler alternates between screaming, flinging food and attempting to escape mid-motorway. Or does them all at the same time if he's feeling particularly frisky.
Passenger becomes Contortionist and Multi-tasker Extraordinaire, map reading, retrieving toys, offering raisin-shaped bribes, and singing nursery rhymes while desperately trying to control the urge to hurl on the windy mountain roads.
5. When driving in Genova, expect the unexpected
You will find a motorway at the end of the narrowest harbour-side alleyway, realise that going backwards will get you going forwards eventually, and come to see tackling 20 cm slip roads in a decidedly non-grunty Fiat Panda as entirely normal. Welcome to Italy, people.
6. There is very little an end-of-road-trip trip to IKEA can’t solve
Carsick, tired, grumpy? No matter. Stop off at one of Milan’s three IKEAs and get dinner and toddler-tainment rolled into one. It’s like being at someone else’s house without having to worry about their furniture getting a little trashed. I mean, aren’t you meant to test the sofas for bounciness?? Isn’t chucking your child into a vat full of fluffy pandas a great idea??
That's it for pearls of wisdom on travelling round Italy with a toddler in the back seat. And now for the obligatory post-weekend photo bomb: