Rome is amazing to visit with children. My two little ones have a real love affair with the city and, following their lead, I could have easily called this list ‘500’ rather than just 5 things your kids will love about Rome. But just out of curiosity, the other day I asked them to pick only their highlights and this list is what came from the exercise. I am sure your kids will agree too!
Find here my top tips for visiting Rome with children
5 things kids love about Rome
- Rome’s glorious piazzas, that wide spaces to run around in one the most beautiful urban setting in the world. No matter how big or small they are, when Rome’s narrow streets open up into one of these spaces, ‘oooohhhs’ and ‘aaahhhhs’ abound: they usually also host small cafes, which act a reward to tired little and not so little legs
Top tip for families: never assume that piazzas are car free. Especially in the city centre, piazzas can seem like safe, enclosed spaces, but in most cases they are just a feature of the road and cars and scooters do cross them at sometimes ridicoulous speed. Piazza del Popolo, in the picture, is partially closed to traffic and Piazza san Pietro is car free.
2. It’s many fountains, perfect for splashing around (bring a change of clothes!). Fountains, monumental or not, are a peculiarity or Rome and their fresh running water is great for playing and to cool you down on hot summer days.
Top tip for families: instead of buying bottled water, carry a bottle with you and fill it up at one Rome’s ubiquitous fountains. On a sunny day, challenge the kids to see who can spash further without getting their clothes wet (hint: use your hand to block the main nose of the fountain: this will force water to come out from the smaller passage and it will form a neat arch kids will love!)
3. It’s quirky monuments, with their unusual shapes and never ending stories. Rome is one of the most generous cities in the world when it comes to peculiar stories and anecdotes: the Colosseum and the Roman forum are world famous and keep vestiges of the most glorious Roman past, but what is a pyramid doing in Rome? How come there’s an elephant in one of its more central squares? Every corner of Rome tells a story that is sure to entertain and entice little explorers and curious adults. The book Not For Parents Rome: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (Lonely Planet Not for Parents) contains many (this link will redirect you to the Amazon.com website)
Top tip for families: go church hopping! Some of Rome’s most beautiful art is not in museum but in the city’s many churches Entrance is free, they can be visited in few minutes, minimising the risk of temper tantrums, and their shady interiors offer refuge from the outiside heat in the summer. Votive candles and side cripts are always a hit with the kids.
4. It’s delicious gelato. No need for introductions here: Italian gelato is world famous and Rome has some of the most amazing gelaterie. You can find the best addresses here: The best gelato in Rome
Top tips for families: to make sure you find real gelato, pick places that sell ‘gelato artigianale’ and stay away from any that offer too wide a selection of flavours: real gelaterie only work with seasonal, fresh ingredients and, like the best restaurants, have smaller, well selected ‘menus’
5. It’s public parks and villas. Rome has many green areas and most of them have an impressive past: originally the private backyards of Rome’s most influential families, the parks are now open to the public and offer fantastic spaces with playgrounds, monuments, and open air cafes
Top tip for families: head to Villa Borghese and take out one of the rowing boats in the area called ‘giardino del lago’. The kids will love rowing and you can challenege them to spot the turtles that call this pond their home! Hint: they love lounging in the sun the far end of the lake
I’d love to hear what your kids liked the most about Rome: leave a comment or post a photo on Instagram with #littletravelnotes so we can all have a gallery of children approved spots in Rome!