Geochaching has been around for decades but is enjoying a resurgence thanks to some apps that make it easier and more accessible. We've been using "geocaching" and have found it to be a great hit with the children; it's also an excellent way to get them outside, walking and exercising in fresh air as they try to find and solve the clues.

What is geocaching

Geocaching is the activity of finding caches, or hidden boxes, that have been left in certain locations by other geocachers. Once you have found the container you can write your name on the logbook, sometimes swap an item in the box for something you have brought, and of course log your find in the geocaching app with a note and a photo to mark your success.

Remember not to post photos that spoil the search for others!

Geocaching

Exploring historic Italy with kids

Geocaching in Italy is a delight because so many of the caches are in beautiful spots, either historical or natural, and most often both. On a recent trip to Tuscany we decided to mix geocaching with our normal explorations and went to visit a medieval monastery in the woods just north of Siena, a place of extraordinary quiet and beauty. It's called the "Eremo di San Leonardo al Lago" and can be visited most days, without appointment, simply by ringing the bell so the caretaker will let you in. After seeing the church, the frescoes, and musing on where the monks' walled vegetable might have been, we went on a search for the hidden cache, exploring the old walls and the woods around the buildings.

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Eremo di San Leonardo, near Siena

Etruscan tombs and caches

Also close to Siena there is an Etruscan necropoli, a small place you might well not know about or stop at. But we saw there was a cache there and spent a long time exploring the area, discovering tombs I hadn't seen before (I've been here before) and going further into the woods looking for a tricky 'micro-cache' that we knew had to be around somewhere.

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Etruscan tombs near Rosia, Siena

Famous places in Italy with geocaches

There are millions of caches hidden all over the world and in all sorts of places; once you have the app you can nearly always find something to go and search for - but here's a brief list of some famous places where you can go geo-caching:

  1. Florence, near Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens
  2. Siena, in Piazza del Campo and near the Cathedral
  3. Rome, near the Forum, in Trastevere, and plenty more
  4. Verona in the historic centre
  5. Pisa, around the leaning tower
  6. Lucca near the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro

and lots lots more.

Hidden spots in Italy with geocaches

There are also caches hidden in places you might not visit otherwise - or in places where you'd struggle to get your children to explore without the adventure of a cache search.

  1. La Torraccia, in Berignone. This is an old castle in a nature reserve north-west of Siena and it can only be accessed after a long walk. It's wild, isolated and beautiful, the perfect place for an adventure.
  2. On the Amiata, a dormant volcano close to the Val d'Orcia. Covered in shaded chestnut woods and nearly 6000 feet high, it's the perfect place for a summer adventure when the valleys are getting to hot for anything but swimming.
  3. In the gardens of Bomarzo, among the amazing collection of sculpted rock outcrops that make up this renaissance garden of follies.
  4. In the tiny village of Ameglia, south of the Cinque Terre.
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Exploring the Etruscan Tombs near Rosia