“While many skills have become obsolete in the digital age, map reading remains an important tool for building children’s spatial reasoning skills and helping them make sense of our world.”

(Deborah Farmer Kris in a recent PBS article “Why Children Still Need to Read (and Draw) Maps” )

It might be a fairly obvious thing that someone working in the travel industry would be interested in maps of all kinds, especially city maps. In the PBS article from the quote above there are some very useful links to books for kids on the subject. After reading this it had me thinking even more about maps of Italian cities.

I admit, only after having lived in Venice as a student and after understanding the city layout did I start actually looking more carefully at maps of it (I raise my hand here for a confession: I still get turned around in Venice at times.) In the past I was more interested in famous maps like the 16th century map by Jacopo de’ Barbari and early Renaissance cartographers. I still am. But years later working in Florence and now very often with the youngest of city explorers I see how map reading can be a fun as well as interesting and engaging tool for kids, whether travelling through or residents here.

This is where Italy for Kids maps comes in.

They are maps for kids with stickers and engaging activities by Sara Dania and Donata Pivia who are based on Milan, and illustrated by Torino based illustrator, Mattia Cerato. Miniature historical figures from Dante’s time to the present day are scattered around them in their respective spots. Even Italian actors Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi enter the map by horseback and carriage just as they entered Renaissance Florence through time travel in the famous Italian film “Non Ci Resta Che Piangere.” Here is a favorite scene (in Italian) where Troisi and Benigni write a letter to Girolamo Savonarola.

I have to say that the Italy for Kids project stole my heart at first sight when I noticed one of my favourite 20th century Italian writers, Elsa Morante, on their Rome map.. Not by chance is one of Morante’s most important works,her 1968 The World Saved By Kids (Il mondo salvato dai ragazzini)! You’ll also find astrophysicist, Margherita Hack, on the Florence map. How could I not fall in love here?

For those digital interests, another Milan based company to check out is ART STORIES for their new series of digital city maps called Cities. Visit their site for more educational apps for kids with an art focus.


SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH 3 pm – 6 pm


At the beautifully restored space, Cartavetra art gallery owned by children’s book illustrator Brunella Baldi, on Via Maggio, meet the founders of ITALY FOR KIDS, Sara Dania & Donata Pivia, who will be in Florence to present their most recent city map of Florence and speak about their Italian city maps project. You can also find all the places they are sold throughout Italy and online here. 

MAP PRESENTATION at 3 PM. This is FREE, open to the public. Following will be a brief sketching tour of the streets around Via Maggio for sketching ideas to take back to the art gallery for a map making workshop with Cartavetra’s illustrators.

30 euro per family OR 35 euro per family including the Florence map by “Italy for Kids” at a special event price.

MATERIALS: Each participant (adults as well as kids) will be given a custom made sketching booklet for the activity to take home after. Sketching materials provided by Cartavetra.

This is open to all ages, so even parents with little ones can participate because these maps are fascinating for grown ups as well we think!  There is a very useful list of family friendly museums and places on the back. The idea is to be an interesting, fun afternoon together at the beautiful and contemporary Galleria Cartavetra on Via Maggio, a gallery that now offers regular artistic workshops for all ages.

There will be refreshments and snacks suitable for kids and grown ups (as well as gluten-free snacks provided by Ristorante Quinoa gluten free restaurant in Florence, a personal favorite restaurant of mine and a very child friendly urban green space to know about in town).

For more info and to sign up for the family activity after the presentation you can write to me here: info@letterartemente.com 

We hope to see you there!




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