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How to tempt teenagers to Italy

Perhaps your teen fears a trip Italy will mean being dragged around churches and art galleries? Surprise and seriously impress them with our essential guide to entertaining young adults in Italy.

Let's start with the shopping

Italy is home not just to the famous designer brand names of Gucci and Prada but a huge host of younger, budget friendly brands. Think Brandy Melville, Diesal, Miss Sixty and Stone Island. Or the retro sporty brands of Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Diadora and Kappa. Then there are the endless underwear stores such as Calzedonia and Intimissimi. Don't forget the sunglasses, Italy's eyewear giant Luxottica owns Raybans, Pesol and Oakley, plus Italy produces 60% of the world's cosmetics so Kiko, Pupa and similar are to be found in all cities.

Eating and drinking

What is not to love about Italian food? Additionally Italian cuisine with its abundance of salad dishes and vegetable sides caters well to vegetarians, vegans and plant based diets. For the carnivorous there is always steak and grilled meats. In Italian culture food is always paired with drink. Drinking is an integral part of life and there is no minimum age for drinking. It is illegal to serve drinks to minors under 16 but young adults can drink (and do) in the company of parents/ elders. Notwithstanding that tolerance, intoxication and loss of control is frowned upon and Italian cities are generally devoid of late night brashness seen in many parts of the world.

Italy and boats

Nothing beats the movie star feeling of a boat trip from Venice airport down the Grand Canal to your private dock. Or take a boat across the Northern Lakes and admire the majestic villas on the hillside. Explore Italy's dramatic Amalfi coastline and chic islands such as Capri from the sea, coming ashore for a long lunch and drinks. Boat trips require little energy and look seriously cool on instagram.

Beach scene

Italian beaches offer an opportunity to watch and be seen. Many beaches in Puglia and the Maremma have open white sandy beaches with wide shallow waters ledges and tranquil seas so perfect for swimming, just lying by the water edge or playing bat and ball. Alternatively the Amalfi coast offers rocky outcrops to leap from. You can book your personal spot at a smart lido with sun beds, deckchairs and umbrellas and settle in for the day. Italian beaches are generally privately managed with bars, restaurants and ice cream behind so teens can refresh and just hang out. Coastal cities like Forte dei Marmi (Tuscany) and Gallipoli (Puglia) also tend to have a vibrant night life.

Give them freedom of the cities

Italian cities are by and large safe, easy to navigate (most shopkeepers and bar staff speak English) and always have at least one central square for everyone to reunite. So it is possible (and sometimes advisable) to split up and have fun exploring on foot or on electric scooters. Cities with large numbers of students (especially foreign ones) are especially popular, think Rome, Bologna, Florence and Milan. The Italian train system is modern, efficient, high speed and connects its main cities (Florence to Rome 2 hours, Florence to Venice 3 hours) so even if the adults want to continue lazing by their luxury villa's pool, it is easy for the young adults to take themselves off to the cities for a few days.

Get their adrenalin going

E-bikes are a fun way to explore Italy and perfect for young adults. Whilst behaving like ordinary mountain bikes, their electric motors and battery power assist make it much easier to go uphill, go faster and travel much more distance without exerting more energy. The gear changes are intuitive and the top setting power boost makes super heroes of us all. Tuscany and Umbria are perfect circuits, travelling through woods and open roads to the next village for refuelling with fresh pastries and cakes. And if that all sounds too exhausting, then maybe book them a hot air balloon trip instead.

Lido in Puglia

Further Reading


Florence's "Wine Windows"

A Whimsical Tale of Tuscany's Vinous Legacy


Italian Culinary Symphony

Essenza's guide to gastronomic adventures and dining etiquette


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