Planning a trip to Italy is exciting – the whole family cannot wait, kids have been learning about Ancient Rome or mythology, and the Coliseum or Colosseum is the most recognized monument on earth…and I imagine the Leaning Tower of Pisa not far behind.
Parents then vigorously start planning – coming up with a virtual mindmap choc-a-bloc full of everything they want to see, eat, do activities and visit from Venice-Rome-Florence stopping in Cinque Terre, down to Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano…
When we see these at ItaliaKids.com and Family Travel Italy(on Facebook), we’re exhausted just reading the lists.
Of course you want to pack as much in to your amazing family vacation. But Italy, with arguably the most amount of art, archeological sites, museums on earth is an open-air museum too – So just being out and about is an amazing experience.
You could spend a lifetime and still not see everything that Italy has to offer[I should know – I’ve lived here nearly 30 years, traveling from the top of the boot to the heel and through the toe…and still get surprised by new towns, exquisite cheeses, local parades, and the average festival…not to mention the sheer beauty around every corner].
So, in a series of posts we’re going to break it down for you – suggesting some ways to make your trip enjoyable – for the whole family. Of course, it depends on the ages and interests of your kids, and whether you’ll be traveling with grandparents and so on…
But here’s a good place to start:
Rome with young children(pre-school/elementary school)
Rome in high season has long lines even for skip-the-line tickets – generally for security. It is also extremely hot. Walking around Rome is wonderful, but for long distances (from the center to the colosseum for example), best to leave it to an air-conditioned private car or for the evenings. Or just take on a section of the city per day. For parents who are keen to see the Vatican Museums or other museums, strollers are a must. For somewhat older kids, I always suggest those Healy shoes with rollers underneath. Kids will go further with less complaint. Smaller museums with fewer crowds can be visited anytime without much fanfare. And there are plenty of those with top-notch artworks. Kids don’t mind museums, they mind the crowds and the time and the heat…so plan accordingly.
– See the Colosseum and Forum from the outside / some families think it’s amazing inside, others that it was a bore. There are fabulous lookouts over the Forum and it’s a wonder to behold. Or pack a lunch, wander into the Forum and up the Palatine Hill, and let the kids play – play – play. Castel Sant’Angelo – the "castle" (built for Emperor Hadrian’s tomb) near St Peter’s and on the banks of the Tiber is also fun for kids, especially going up to the lookout terrace on top.
We take the kids to do art projects – the kids love getting some time on their own – and so do their grownups! We offer this in Florence and Venice, too! https://artealsole.com
– Take the hop on / hop off bus — You’ll cover more ground, and kids love sitting on top. You’ll get close enough for short walks to / from the major attractions but alas, the audio explanations are not so hot. Spend your first day just getting the lay of the land, seeing what you like, deciding what to go back to.
– Duck into churches – They’re cool (tempwise) and cool artwise. You will happen across a Caravaggio or a Bernini or any amount of artistry here or there.
– Go to Piazza del Popolo where kids love to chase birds, or climb up the Pincio Hill in the Villa Borghese Garden – Once there, there are merry-go-rounds, go-carts, golf carts, a train, a Segway and even a small pond for rowing and spending time with the family – in the shade. I have had families return every day of their trip! Arte al Sole families can take an art or photography lesson there, too.
Want a get-away? Above Trastevere, in the Monteverde Neighborhood is also Rome’s largest park – Villa Doria Pamphilj is a great place for a picnic.
– In summer, go down by the riverside for a cool evening drink and a pizza on the Isola Tiberina. It’s neat to be by the water. From there, strolling in Trastevere but again, strollers may be called for – and they aren’t so easy on the cobblestones (Sanpietrini) — There are street performers in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and you can sit outdoors without worrying about traffic rolling by.
Check out ItaliaKids.com or RomeWise.com for restaurant recommendations.
– Some places further afield include: a new petting farm and zoo, Cinecittà World (a movie set / amusement park) is also fun for the family. Rome’s Auditorium often has special shows and concerts – and you can ask us for babysitters, too – and some kids just enjoy a few hours at the Explora hands-on center. Rome has a permanent Da Vinci exhibition featuring his machines, but you’ll find other exhibitions appealing to young kids, like a Lego Art one or who knows?
If you’re coming from the USA, jet lag is a thing. It’s best to get to your hotel or apartment if arriving in the morning and taking a nap for an hour or two. If you nap in the evening, you’ll never get to sleep at night. Once acclimated, take a stroll in the sunshine. And if it rains, just know that usually in Rome, it doesn’t rain for very long.So check local listings: www.inromenow.com • wantedinrome.com • romeing.com
You will find children shows, special events and open air concerts listed – so you can all enjoy L’Estate Romana – A Roman Summer and instead of running ragged trying to check off everything from your list, you can slow down and enjoy your holiday, Italian style.
Book your Mosaics Lab • A Sketch Hunt around the Pantheon • A Family Tour Today!
That just means you can toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and guarantee your return to Rome!
For your budding Botticellis!
Pick up an Arte al Sole Artist’s Kit / Rucksack, Sketchpad, & colorful Crayon Rocks – Kids will want to find / sketch everything they see! And enjoy some quiet time at meals as they focus on their art or cartoons in their Travel Journal! Mailed to your home or delivered to your lodging in Italy.
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