The advantage of taking children to the stunning city of Rome is that there is always something available that they will actually eat. Whilst we have loved exotic trips to far-flung destinations, in part for the culinary delights on offer, trying to find fare to satisfy a fussy child doesn’t tend to enhance the experience! However, the abundance of pizza in Rome is like manna from heaven to both kids and parents alike. With pasta and gelato completing the gastronomic Trinity, we could stop worrying about what to eat and could focus on the sights and sounds of the Eternal City.
We began our adventure when we picked up our keys for our rental apartment – a stunning 3 bed apartment in the vibrant bohemian area of Monti, just a stone’s throw from the Colosseum. A typical and atmospheric Italian home with shutters and sunlight, nuns chanting outside in the morning and vespas roaring past till the small hours, it was simply perfect.
Armed with the invaluable Lonely Planet “Not For Parents: Rome” city guide, our intrepid gladiators-in-training set off for the Colosseum, incredibly located only a few minutes from our apartment. The boys were thrilled by the sight of the ancient amphitheatre: we were thrilled that on the first Sunday of the month, which it happened to be, entry was free! My top tip is to get your tickets from the small ticket office for the Palatino, a few metres across the Piazza del Colosseo, which has almost no queue and enables you to then join the ticket holders’ queue. Be prepared to wait either way – at the Colosseum, there’s ALWAYS a queue! The ticket is valid for entry to not only the Colosseum, but also the Palatino and Forum.
Having had our fill of fighting imaginary lions and dreaming of rising through the earth to the roars of the crowd by way of trap doors, we returned to Monti for a well-deserved gelato break, before venturing on to the top of the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. The views are breathtaking, the history awe-inspiring and the crowds dispiriting, but by the end of the afternoon we had two very tired boys with a new-found passion for Roman history, and they’d even learned some Latin and were spotting the famous SPQR engraving at every turn. It was time for a pizza!
There is so much to do in Rome, you could spend weeks there and never see it all. We only had three days, so tried to cover as much ground as we could. It wasn’t all history and ruins; the boys loved riding a bus through the city to the Bocca della Verita, navigating the metro, and visiting the AS Roma shop for football souvenirs.
Family highlights included: the gardens at Villa Borghese, which had a small land train, lots of green spaces and playgrounds where children, tired of museums, can let off steam, and a zoo; people-watching in Piazza Navona; strolling through small piazzas with bubbling fountains and cafes at each corner; eating spaghetti on the Via delle Paste; taking in the grandeur of St Peter’s Basilica; and marveling at the construction of the dome of the Pantheon. All provided stealth learning opportunities, and you are never too far from a gelateria. The promise sealed by our coins in the Trevi Fountain is not the only reason we will return one day.