Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Enjoy Rome With Kids

When you think of the ultimate family getaway, Rome might not be the first place on your list.  But maybe it should be.  Our recent long weekend in Rome was one of my very favourite holidays.  You can take your kids to Rome and enjoy it.  Here's how:
Tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain said to guarantee one's return to Rome
Take care getting there.  Our littlest kiddo is only 18 months old but I am so over holding him on my lap on an airplane.  We bought him a seat and strapped him in for the quick 2 hour flight.  Best decision ever.  I was actually able to peruse my guidebooks while he cheerfully kicked the seat in front of him.  (Which brings me to my next point:  place one of your other kids directly in front of the baby who will be kicking the seat the whole time).

The view from the dome of St Peter's
Location, location, location.  We rented a spacious apartment in the heart of Rome through Sleep in Italy.  It was so nice to have space to spread out and a kitchen for basics like milk and snacks.
The Arch of Constantine
Bring the Right Gear.  I was so glad to have a car seat that attaches to a stroller frame.  It made it easy to tote the car seat through the airport and it made it possible to use taxis while in Rome (The subway system is quite limited there).  A good baby backpack would have been useful at St. Peter's because they do not allow strollers inside.
The Roman Forum

Bring Extra Hands.    We brought Nana.  'Nuff said.

Enjoying the view from one of Rome's 7 hills
Feed 'Em Right.    Pizza and gelato make for very happy kids (and grown ups, too).


Hire a Guide.    This is the single best thing we did in Rome.  We used Rome Kids Tours and they were brilliant.  Our guide was so good at keeping the kids entertained that I could actually enjoy the sites myself.  And we all learned so much along the way.  We also had a private driver who whisked us from one site to another.  This way we were able to hit all the major sites before the kids were too exhausted, hungry, or burned out.  It was a bit of a splurge but worth every penny.
Our guide showing the kids what the Colosseum originally looked like

Be Realistic.    Kids can only handle so much museum time.  Avoid the lines by buying tickets in advance whenever possible.  The Colosseum, The Forum, and the Dome of St. Peter's were big hits with my little kids.  At the Vatican we flew past miles of amazing art work and focused on the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.  When we're traveling with kids we are constantly forced to prioritize.  And we always remember to find the playground for some down time.  (There was a small playground in the gardens behind the Castel Sant' Angelo).
Inside the Vatican Museum Hall of Maps
Soak it In.  The Italian people adore children and babies.  Every waiter and taxi driver we encountered was practically gushing over our kiddos.  The baby has been kissed by more Italians than I can count.  It was amazing how many young men would stop to ooh and ahh over the baby.  This kid-friendly culture is so welcoming that you can't help but feel the love. In fact, I don't think I have ever felt more welcomed in a foreign city before. 
St. Angel Bridge

Rome loved us and we loved Rome. So many amazing sights, treasured ruins, beautiful scenery and wonderful people.  Can't wait to go back someday. 

But first, we're off to Austria tomorrow for the half term break!  See you in a week.

6 comments:

  1. wow, what a wonderful trip it looks/sounds like!!

    :)

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  2. Ooh, have a great time in Austria!
    I remember that when we visited Italy for the first time, we had been living in Germany for seven months, and no idea how starved for affection we were. Although people in Germany treated us very well, it was their version of warmth, which is so very different from Italians! Arriving there was like getting a huge hug, the whole time. People were SO warm and kind-- it was very therapeutic!
    I love your suggestions, too. Getting an apartment is such a great idea, as well as a tour and a driver!

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  3. Loved this post - short & sweet but full of tons of useful info. The suggestion of a driver/tour guide is a good one that I will tuck away. I'm sure it was pricey but as you said, it saves time and kid energy! We loved Rome on our visit there as a newly married couple. Can't wait to share the charms of Italy with our daughter - especially since there is such a family friendly culture. Enjoy Austria! I've never been and look forward to your post about it...

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  4. Oh what a great post! I long to go to Rome. What a great suggestion to hire a guide too. How funny that the Romans were all kissing your baby!! They sound so friendly!

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  5. We are planning a visit to Roma this summer. The attached links are useful information. Thanks a ton!!
    We always stay in vacation apartments wherever we go. The kids and I love the space and nothing beats to having breakfast in your PJ's..:D

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  6. Great post! I wish I had read this before we went. It is a fabulous city and my children loved it!! Our favorite thing to do after a long day of touring was to sit in a piazza and relax with a cold drink and let the children run and play and watch the street performers. We have rented an apartment in Italy and Paris. It is the best way to stay! Thanks!

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