Rome is quite simply the best place to visit with kids. No other city brings history to life in the same way and the scale of its monuments will take their breath away.
When taking kids to Rome it makes sense to base yourself in the heart of the historical center or within walking distance of the ancient monuments. Transport and traffic in Rome can be challenging and you’ll be walking enough anyway, so anything you can do to cut down on transit time will keep your kids fresh and interested for longer.
Here are a few ideas for a fun-filled family vacation in the Eternal City.
For just a handful of euros more than the basic ticket, you can access the underground section of the most famous Roman arena in the world. Explore the basement of the world-renowned amphitheater to see where the wild animals were kept and learn about how the gladiators prepared for their combats. You’ll also learn about the incredible arena’s innovative design and how this unique building has been preserved for hundreds of years.
Golf cart tour
It may be fair to say that golf carts aren’t exactly synonymous with the historic Italian capital, but a golf cart tour of Rome is an experience kids will be sure to remember. Rome on foot can be a challenge even for adults, so a golf cart tour makes it easy to see the main attractions in comfort and with your own private guide. Tours include 4-hour themed itineraries such as Ancient Rome, Jewish Rome, or Angels & Demons. Longer 6-hour itineraries take you further off the beaten track to spots such as Roman Aqueducts & Catacombs or modern Roman Art & Architecture, including huge colorful murals that are sure to capture your kids’ imaginations.
Buried under Ancient Rome, the spooky Catacombs couldn’t be more atmospheric. Allocated for the burial of those who couldn’t afford an extravagant send-off, the Catacombs of St Callisto and the Catacombs of St Sebastian are both accessible from the city center. The walls of these underground tombs are covered in centuries-old early Christian graffiti and symbols, really giving you the feeling that the people who passed through here were human beings just like us, not just shadowy figures from a history book.
Most kids visiting Italy can’t get enough of its scrumptious gelato and would eat it for every meal if they were allowed! With such an incredible range of flavors, who can blame them? Look out for a “gelateria artigianale” ice cream parlor, signifying that their gelato is home-made rather than mass produced.
Try Giolitti, near the Pantheon, a Rome institution since 1890, Brivido in Testaccio, which shuns artificial colorings, sweeteners, and preservatives, or branches of Fatamorgana, which boast creative flavors and high-quality ingredients. More adventurous kids might want to try the blue Puffo (literally “smurf” flavor), which turns your tongue blue!
Villa Borghese gardens
When the sightseeing all gets too much, particularly in the hot summer months, the gardens of the Villa Borghese make the ideal retreat. Not only do they offer playgrounds, pony rides on weekends, and a zoo, you can also rent rowboats to go out on the lake, segways, or a family rickshaw to burn off any remaining energy. The gardens are also dotted with food and drink kiosks for the inevitable snack requests.
No child can resist the opportunity to throw a coin over their shoulder into a fountain, particularly if it means they might get the chance to return to Rome one day. Note that the area is carefully patrolled by local police to ensure no one ventures into the water or tries to have a picnic around the edge. When you’ve seen enough, head to the nearby 140-year-old Moriondo & Gariglio chocolate shop.
If your kids aren’t fussy eaters, how about taking them on a food tour to really get to grips with the best of Rome’s treats? Roman cuisine is famous for its hearty pasta dishes and deep-fried delights such as supplì rice balls, so there should be plenty to interest them. If not, a pizza making class will give them lots of opportunities for tasting and recreating their favorite toppings once they’ve returned home.