I have two young children, one is four and the other one will be turning three in about one month, and whenever I can, I bring them to Rome. I am very keen to having them familiarise with the city and so far it hasn’t been difficult to have them fall in love with it: i nonni are there (with their infinite love for them and an equally infinite number of new toys), playgrounds in the sun are there and of course gelato and pizza are there, more than enough to conquer the heart of any toddler.
But the last time we were in Rome, the city really pulled all the stops and made them Rome lovers for ever: we discovered Explora children museum Rome.
What to see in Rome with children: Explora children museum
There are plenty of things to do in Rome for kids, even without going to attractions designed specifically for them, but every time I travel with my children I can see that they really love when they can just play. So I bit the bullet and spent the 21 euro required for the three of us to get in and let them roam for the 1 hour 45 minutes allocated to us.
The price is, I believe, high but inside the children had the best time!
When you first get in you find an area for younger children, dedicated to soft play: it is cordoned off from the rest of the museum and offers a safe area for babies and young toddlers. It’s a nice area and my daughter loved to have the freedom to climb the soft blocks available without fear of hurting herself, but if you only have a baby, it’s hardly worth a visit. What is really impressive is the rest of the museum, that has suitably captured the imagination of my son!
The museum is organised on two floors. The main downstairs hall is occupied by impressive machines, teaching engineering principles: you have an Archimedes screw (which reminded me of a very interesting documentary I once say about the suspended gardens of Babylon), hydraulic pumps you can create a vortex with, a shishi odoshi fountain, Leonardo’s wheel. The best thing? The kids can operate them all, while at the same time having the thrill of climbing over a firemen truck! The kids LOVED it and I even learned something: I had no idea what a shishi odoshi fountain was until then, let alone how it operates. Now, I do 🙂
You can see how Archimedes screw works with pebbles and wheels. It is indeed a pretty impressive machine:
Walking further into the museum, you find a vegetable patch, where kids can learn about planting and harvesting. The patch is great fun and makes great educational sense if you have children, like mines, who are growing up in a city. The patch was a particular hit with my daughter: the round edged, colourful vegetables made for great toys and the planting is very reminiscent of some of her sorting games back home but in a grand scale.
Still on the ground floor you can have fun in the kitchen and can I just say? This gave me majour kitchen envy, I’d love a house like this! My daughter had great fun playing ‘house’ here, but older kids can also engage with their surroundings in a more educational way and learn about the preservation of food and food safety. interesting panels with explanations are provided. To give a full idea of the provenance of our food, the museum also has a supermarket area with little trolleys and checkouts, where the kids can play ‘shop’ and, for once, experience life on the other side of the till!
The museum is on two floors and you can stay on the ground floor while talking to your brother on the first one, through a pipe:
Upstairs, the wonders continue with tables of shapes, rolling balls, weights and measures. This area is slightly less interesting for younger kids, but full of wonders for older ones as it explores concepts like weight, height and shapes.
Despite some reservations before going, I found Explora was really a good place for the kids and I would recommend it, especially for children aged 4 or more. A lot of attention is paid to recycling and healthy eating I was a bit sorry that my kids at the time missed out on the significance of that, but I am sure we will be back: I don’t think I can ever go back to Rome without the kids demanding a stop at Explora and I can sure enjoy some more time at the make-believe supermarket check out!
On a practical note: the museum is accessible by buggies and there is a small area where you can park them at the entrance. On the premises, you have a bookshop and a restaurant serving pizza, a children’s menu and ice cream. The museum is not far from Piazza del Popolo, so it’s a great afternoon stop and a change of pace while sightseeing.
Please note: this review is unsolicited and unbiased and it’s written in an effort to share our experience of visiting Rome as a family and provide suggestions on what to see in Rome with children