Italy: Family fun in the sun

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Kids are at the heart of Italian culture, so it's no surprise the country is geared up to welcome tourists of all ages, says Sarah Marshall, Press Association.

Unless you're surrounded by other understanding parents, taking children to beaches, restaurants and hotels can be an undertaking riddled with apologies and concerns about what they might do next.

But in Italy, a country where family is sacred, children are welcome everywhere. Here's why...

1. The food pleases all ages
Every child loves pizza, pasta and ice cream - so it's impossible to go wrong in Italy if you have hungry little mouths to feed. Best of all, most restaurants are happy to accommodate young diners, and it's not uncommon to see plastic slides and play-pits being used in the corner of a terrace. And early to bed? Here, that concept simply doesn't exist. All family generations are well respected, but bambinos are especially adored, so why wouldn't they deserve a place at the table too?

2. You can style it out even with kids in tow
Carrying bags of nappies, baby bottles and soft toys shouldn't mean you have to compromise on style. Compared to their 'family-friendly' competitors in other European destinations, Italy has an inherent sense of refinement and style. You won't be forced out of the pool by this year's latest gaudy inflatable, and there's not a sniff of drunk and disorderly behaviour on the beach.

3. The flights times are short
Any parent who can keep their child still and quiet on long haul flights is either a magician or extremely lucky. Generally, little fidgets don't fare well in the air - which is why it makes sense to stay closer to home. Most Italian destinations can be reached in under three hours.

4. Everyone will learn something new
Italy is overflowing with historical gems making the country one great big living museum. It's the perfect place for kids to delve into the past - learning about the power and influence of the Romans, or imagining what life might have been like two thousand years ago in the time-frozen city of Pompeii. Simply wandering around cities like Venice and Florence is a history lesson in itself.

5. The welcome is warm (even if you scream and shout)
Hospitality is key for Italians. They smile a lot, want to talk to everyone and will treat you as a friend, relative or family member - making it a relaxing place to be on holiday. Rather than being seen as a nuisance or an irritation, children are welcome everywhere - and grandparents are also treated with respect.

6. Everything is delivered with love
Italians are known and loved the world over for their exuberant personalities. They are loud, prone to exaggeration and highly expressive - exactly like kids. So parents can rest assured that in many cases, it's actually the Italian adults who are bold and boisterous - making younger upstarts seem incredibly calm.

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