We recently visited Rome with two 6-year-old kids (Filippo and Mia) and our 5-month-old baby (Eleonora). It was their first time in the Capital and they were fascinated.
WHY CHOOSE ROME WITH CHILDREN?
Although the most appropriate age to visit Rome with children is when they already have some scholastic notions of Roman history, we think that is never too early to see the “Eternal City“.
Of course, they must be willing to walk a lot (trust that if stimulated they have much more energy than you imagine). When they are tired you can always hop on a tram, a bus or the metro. The beauty of Rome is this possibility for children to get on many types of transport, and they are often curious to try.
For babies under the age of one you can alternate between carrying in baby carrier or stroller. Breastfeeding is possible everywhere, with no comments or prejudices from anyone. Rome, as is also true throughout Italy, is a city that welcomes children of all ages.
Visit the main squares, where you can “unleash” children in free play. Roman squares (Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, Piazza del Campidoglio, Piazza del Quirinale, Circo Massimo, to cite a few examples) are perfect meeting places and natural playgrounds where…children abound!
Of course, never lose sight of them; let your children experience these places full of history, playing and getting dirty in their own way.
For a good snack, do not take the “first” ice cream you see. Gelato is an Italian specialty that we are proud of, so go looking for one of the many historical ice-cream parlors (listed on the guides) with an infinite variety of top quality tastes and raw materials.
LEARN TO USE A CITY MAP
While walking around the city it is fun to teach them to consult a paper map (and not the mobile phone!) involving them in the orientation of the city Map reading is a fun activity that will become useful to them later in life. Take advantage of their “thirst for knowledge” and read the history of the places you visit. Intrigue them with the city guide and translate the various descriptions into their language. When they grow up you will find that they will spontaneously do the same with their children (your example is the greatest source of education).
If you teach your children to experience the city, actively intriguing and interesting them, they will be more travelers than tourists!
SEE THE POPE
An exciting experience is to see the Pope. A fascinating figure (especially for kids) because he is “the head of the Catholic Church”. Keep in mind that there are strict security controls both to enter the square and in the St. Peter’s Basilica. In spite of this, do not bypass a visit inside the majestic Basilica with your children.
If the weather allows, you can get up the cupola of Michelangelo (600 steps to the top costing 8 Euros, while the elevator costs 10 Euros with only 300 steps). From the top the panorama of the square and Rome is breathtaking!
After the many cultural experiences possible, you can let the children play in a beautiful toy store for a little break. “The Little Big Town” is in front of the bus stop of Piazza Venezia.
THE MUSEUM OF CHILDREN
There is also a beautiful museum for children (“Explora”) that unfortunately we did not visit because we preferred to stay outdoors. If you wish to go you should book your ticket, as the visits are scheduled. You will find all the information on the site: www.mdbr.it.
FREE/CHEAP & FUN ATTRACTIONS
Once you have visited Rome, who would not want to come back? To make sure this desire comes true, do not forget to visit the Trevi Fountain.
This famous fountain owes its name to its position: you will find it in a small square at the intersection of three streets, a “trivio”, hence the name Trevi. Besides being one of the most beautiful fountains in the world, is also famous for the usual “toss the coin”. Tradition wants, in fact, that people, with their backs to the fountain, throw a coin inside to be sure to return to Rome.
Up to 3000 Euros are “fished” from the fountain daily, the proceeds of which are donated to charity.
In addition to entertaining children in this fun tradtion they are doing a good deed!
Outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (which preserves the remains of St. Valentine) there is a frightening bearded marble face that could scare you! The original function is uncertain, it is hypothesized that it was a manhole or a fountain, but today it is known as the “mouth of truth”. According to a popular belief, this fearful mouth holds in its jaws the hand of the one who perjures.
Try to imagine the emotion and the fear of children in the presence of this frightful being.
For a fun, quick and cheap lunch (4 Euros for pasta, water and glass of wine) we went to the “Pastificio Guerra”, located near the fashionable street Via Condotti. It is not a proper traditional Italian lunch as takeaway pasta is not normally in our culture. But this old pasta factory with an open kitchen serves two delicious types of pasta for lunch.
NOT TO BE MISSED
Whatever your plans, you cannot fully enjoy Rome if you have not given yourself a dinner in Trastevere and a break at the Antico Caffè Greco, Via dei Condotti n.86.
In the Trastevere neighborhood you can breathe a typically Roman relaxed atmosphere. The whole family can taste some typical Roman dishes and treat yourself to a nice glass of wine directly from the Roman hills.
Make the children stay with you and teach them the pleasure of sharing these moments together.
Here you will find spaghetti alla carbonara, bucatini all’amatriciana, fettuccine alla gricia (with bacon and egg), fried lamb and Roman artichokes.
Art, finesse and excellent coffee come together in the Antico Caffè Greco (coffee at the bar 1,70 Euro and 7 Euro at the table). This historic cafè in Via Condotti is the oldest in Rome (since 1770) and just as you cross the threshold you seem to go back in time for hundreds of years. The attention to detail is meticulous and the environment made characterful by the charm and elegance of the furniture and elegant staff.
The children were able to appreciate the beauty of the 150 art works kept there while sitting at a table while we enjoyed a coffee. Like in a fairytale they immediately knew how to adapt to the quiet and idyllic atmosphere of the room, delighting in the design and probably inspired by another painter who painted his canvas near us. The cost of the refreshments here is commensurate with the exclusivity of the restaurant, but if you want some advice, this little sacrifice is worth it. You can enjoy a break and certainly UNIQUE experience for all.
HOW TO ARRIVE
The most recommended way to get to Rome is by train, at the Termini station. Trenitalia’s Frecce and Italo offer discounted rates for children, especially if you buy on time. The train, moreover, already represents the first “fun experience” for the little ones.
Do not forget to bring them a backpack packed perhaps with coloring and some games.
If you come by plane
From the railway station, located in the Fiumicino airport, near the Arrivals and Departures terminals, you can reach the city centre with many, frequent connections:
Leonardo Express, a non-stop service exclusively for airport passengers to/from Rome Termini railway station leaving every 15 minutes, with a journey time of 32 minutes (ticket 14€, kids are free)
Regional FL1 trains to/from other stations in Rome, including Rome Tiburtina, with departures every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends and holidays (tiket 8€).
WHERE TO STAY AND WHAT TO DO. RECOMMENDED ITINERARY
We have been to Rome several times without children and, if you have only a few days, we suggest you to stay right in the Termini station area. The southern part especially is a safe area with a wide choice of hotels of excellent quality. Also in this area are typical restaurants and clubs.
Plan the trip, but not too much. For the first family trip to Rome, we advise you not to stress the children with itineraries and programs. After all, the rhythms with them are much slower.
Our advice is to subdivide the city into three parts: Ancient city (Imperial Forums, Colosseum, Palatino), City center (Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, Pantheon Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo), Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo and Trastevere (best in the evening). Take monuments as a reference point and then for the remainder of your time enjoy Rome walking around and appreciating it in all its aspects. Indeed, many people call it “an open-air museum” and when you see, you can confirm that it really is.
WHAT TO BRING IN THE BABY SUITCASE
– a small notepad on which they can draw during stops and write their first travel notes
– boots, raincoat and parasol
– backpack (make them step by step more and more independent)
– small water bottle
– a practice camera that you may not use anymore
AFTER YOUR TRIP
Do you want proof that your time and your money have been well spent? Then ask your children if they had fun. What did they like best? What new experience has excited them the most? Which destination would they like to visit next time?
Our children responded positively (obviously) to the first question. Their greatest emotion was about seeing the Pope and they told their experience enthusiastically to their classmates. Finally, as the next destination they wish to go back to Rome!
Yes, if you want to confirm that the trip has been exceptional, you will almost certainly hear from them that they cannot wait to return to the same place.
If you still hesitate to visit Rome with your children, put aside laziness and ask yourself the crucial question: “Can you imagine how much fun the kids would have?”
Are you ready?
Alessandro & Chiara,
mom and dad of @thetravellingoldenfamily
…. Funny Background