Teen Tourists in Italy

When planning family travel, we envision the rich culture and abundant history that will make a lasting imprint on our teens and give them a broader perspective on the world and society. Ambitious yes, realistic…probably not unless you factor into your travel planning activities and an agenda that your teen has a stake in. 

Here’s some advice to help plan for a fun and relaxing time with teens while on vacation in Italy. This is based on the collective wisdom of six moms (the six Byrne sisters) who lived in Rome as teens ourselves, and having taken our own teens to Italy many times, we understand the perspective of teen travel and encourage you to plan ahead so that your teens can enjoy and create special memories of their time abroad. 


  • Learn a bit about regional food specialties in advance, so that you can identify which dishes are particular to each region and why, for example, you won’t find spaghetti & meatballs on many menus.
  • Watch movies that were filmed in Italy. There are soooo many. Here’s a starter list.
  • Read some books, this list has many good books, but is just a start. 
  • Use Youtube to learn basic Italian phrases such as all always appreciated  ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘good morning’. Also learn how Italians talk with their hands. BTW, you do need to be careful to ensure that when you use your Italian hand gesture vocabulary you keep it polite;-)
  • Download travel podcasts and travel guides that your teen can listen to for self-guided tours of major museums and sites.



Ask your teen to choose a day of your trip and design their own tour! All the wonderful sights are amply and wonderfully described online and in guides. Buy your guidebooks now and give to your teens, suggest they research pre-prepared tours for timing and logistics. They should plan the route and times (checking hours and days places are open), stops for meals and gelato. We suggest latitude for them to indulge their own special interests be they shopping, the weird, fashion, food, architecture, art, gardens, paintings, churches. Some might enjoy a theme like those in these blogs: Every Caravaggio (a wonderful painter) in Rome, Rome’s Spookiest Sights and The 13 Obelisks of Rome. Take your Children to Florence.


What better way to a teens heart than food! Our guest materials include recommendations for private chefs and cooking schools where you can learn to make pizza and other Italian specialties. Florence: InTavola Tuscany: Chef in Tuscany, all tested and approved by us;-)



Keeping in mind that teenage budgets are modest and things like clothing have a limited life, here are some markets where they can find interesting things they can afford.


  • Via del Corso is a long street filled with boutiques and also some of the same international fashion chain stores you find in North America but also Italian stores. 
  • Cola di Rienzo is where you find Italian style without the designer labels and prices. You’ll find street stalls with modestly priced items here and around the Via Ottaviano subway station. One of our daughters still brags about the bikini she bought at a Via Ottaviano market stall for only €4.00! 
  • Porta Portese in Trastevere is a flea market with inexpensive goods from all over the world, Sunday mornings. Take care against pick pockets.
  • Monti (Cavour subway stop) is filled with funky shops with up and coming designers and interesting things of all kinds.
  • Souvenir stalls are generally filled with silly stuff, but it can be fun to see some of it and compare.



  • San Lorenzo marketplace stalls are filled with clothes and accessories that appeals to teens. 
  • The Mercato Nuovo, also called Porcellino Market, named for the boar (porcellino) statue whose nose you touch for luck.


  • Murano for lovely glass jewelry. You can also find in more central Venice, maybe a little higher price. Glass jewelry is quite affordable and very beautiful.
  • Rialto market for street vendors of all kinds.


If your teens are okay on their own, here are some places they may like to hang out, meet other teen tourists. Build downtime into your sightseeing for sitting in a piazza or at a café watching the world go by, enjoying the Italian penchant for drama in the everyday. This is often far more interesting for teens than yet another museum. If it’s hot, a free and cool respite is to pop into a beautiful church and sit quietly enjoying the cool air and lingering aroma of incense while gazing up at majestic architecture. While there, find the relics of the Saints, such as the skull of Saint John or the heart of San Carlo.

Mike Campo San Barnaba


  • Campo de’ Fiori
  • Piazza Navona
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • Borghese Gardens
  • Janiculum Hill


  • Steps of Santa Croce Basilica
  • Boboli Gardens
  • Caffeteria delle Oblate cafe with fabulous Duomo views
  • Piazza della Repubblica

One Response to “Teen Tourists in Italy”

  1. Amy Roseveare says:

    Great suggestions, Lisa! Thanks for sharing.

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