The old farmhouse is located high in the mountains in the province of Liguria, Italy, and is only accessible by a car. Regardless of this, Ca’ Marcantonio would be a perfect base not only for a quick trip to the beach, but also the Cinque Terre, a group of five villages’ renowned for their beauty, located on the Italian Riviera. With all of this information, we believed that this place was worth trying, but little did we know exactly how special this place would be for our children. The very first morning after we arrived I awoke around 8am to the sound of hooves clicking on the wood of our deck and the clink-clink of a cow bell. If you think you can’t travel with kids to Italy, boy are you wrong.
By this time my sons, a 3-year old toddler and a 7-month infant, began stirring from the noises outside. I thought that rather than tell them what was just outside our apartment, I would take them downstairs and show them. When we made our way down to the first floor, there, peering through our glass-paneled door, the other donkey, Tinello. He stood there with his long floppy ears patiently waiting for someone to come out to greet him and give him a scratch. Before opening the door, our two sons—still in their pajamas—excitedly peered back at Tinello with their faces and hands pressed on the glass, awed at the premise that a donkey was actually staring back at them on this fine sunny morning. The children still needed to get dressed and brush their teeth, but our toddler did not want to stray too far from Tinello, so it was all accomplished at the front door. Tinello is a very friendly donkey, so much so that he attempted on several occasions to walk into the apartment, much to the delight and awe of our children.
As the morning was sunny and calm we decided to have breakfast on the patio. Tinello equally liked this idea as he stuck around trying to help himself to our toast and cereal. He even went as far as to reach his head over the back of the highchair. Our infant was sitting in the chair and gazed at Tinello with a somewhat bewildered look on his face that said ‘Why is there a donkey two inches from my face while I am trying to eat?’ Not to be outdone by Tinello, one of the owner’s cats decided that all animals had an open invitation to partake in our breakfast and so joined us well.
A great place to call home while on a family vacation
When breakfast was finished, our toddler decided he wanted to play on the swings hanging from the nearby tree while we cleaned up. He then accompanied my wife and infant up the terraced mountainside to visit the other animals the owners possessed, including the fluffy ducklings, chickens and dogs. He was so enthralled by all of them that he frequently and sweetly informed them that he loved them. When it was time to head back down to the house so we could prepare and leave for our excursion to the Cinque Terre, he proceeded to have a meltdown, begging to have a few more minutes to play with the fluffy ducklings. The crying and pleading continued down the mountainside until he reached the trampoline, upon which he jumped on for 10 minutes, laughing and subsequently forgetting why exactly he was so upset earlier. After already undergoing a very busy and memory-filled morning we packed everyone in the car and drove the half hour to the Cinque Terre.
You can travel with kids to Italy too
We had such a grand time at this old renovated farmhouse. We initially chose this accommodation because it fit our needs and despite missing out on the donkey trek and tree climbing that they offer guests as it is more geared toward older children, our donkey breakfast made it a truly memorable experience. This place is a true gem; our toddler still talks about ‘the donkey place’ to this day.
Craig Taylor is an adjunct professor of Greek and Roman history at the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He and his wife are embedding their love of travel into their two young sons as they explore the globe. You can connect with Craig on Twitter @CraigPTaylor1