Review: MacacoTour Sketch Hunt, Venice
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
City breaks are my favourite type of trip (if you hadn't already guessed from the title of this website!). But it can be really hard to keep children engaged as you explore, trying to take in the atmosphere and the architecture of city streets. There are only so many beautiful buildings you can admire, and photos you can take, before the inevitable cries of "I'm bored!" start coming from the mouths of the little ones trailing behind you.
So when we were planning our trip to Venice, I was really interested to find out about MacacoTour, a different type of tour company which was founded in 2014. It promises "a unique and unforgettable experience to discover hidden details and the magic atmosphere of Venice", through games and activities suitable for kids aged 5-11.
MacacoTour offer several different experiences, including a Merchant of Venice Boat Tour, a Sounds Hunt (for slightly younger children), and a Cannaregio Treasure Hunt. We booked a Sketch Hunt which is advertised as a "treasure hunt to discover secret codes, odd details and mysteries hidden around Campo Santa Maria Formosa and the Querini Stampalia palace!"
We'd already spent a couple of days walking around Venice, and although there hadn't been many complaints from my two sons, it was nice to have an activity planned just for them on our third day in the city. We arrived at the Campo Santa Maria Formosa about ten minutes before we were due to meet Gaia, our guide for the tour. Luckily she'd already sent us an e-mail with a map of the meeting point, as Venice can be very confusing to navigate around!
Gaia arrived right on time, and was immediately very warm and engaging, explaining to the boys how the hunt was going to work. My boys are usually quite shy when meeting new people but Gaia was very good at getting down to their level, and reading their different personalities.
Both of them were assigned their own role, one as navigator, and one as clue hunter, and off they went!
It was lovely for us as parents to be able to stand back throughout the tour, as Gaia took charge and gently encouraged the boys to find the clues.
She was very good at not taking over, allowing them enough time to discover the right route, and to make discoveries at their own pace.
When we arrived at each new stop, it was fascinating for all of us to hear more about the significance of each clue and how it related to the history of the city.
As it was a 'Sketch Hunt', there was of course some drawing involved. My youngest son loves drawing, so this was perfect for him, but even my more reluctant eldest son enjoyed the activities, as they weren't too complicated. All of the clues were varied and just difficult enough to keep my boys interested and totally engaged throughout.
The tour lasted just under 90 minutes, and Gaia took us to some really interesting spots in the city, including the famous Libreria Acqua Alta and the beautiful Museo Querini Stampalia. I won't spoil the ending of the tour, but as it's a treasure hunt, it's likely there is a prize for the kids at the end!
Verdict: We all really enjoyed the Sketch Hunt. It was great to do a fun activity in the city which was specifically aimed at the children, and which was perfect for their age range. Both of them were talking about it for the rest of the day, which is always a good sign! It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Venice. If you're looking for something different to do in Venice with your family, then MacacoTour is highly recommended. You can see a list of their current tours here.
Disclaimer: We were offered a free Sketch Hunt by MacacoTour in return for an honest review. All thoughts and photos are my own.