There are many quotes regarding Rome such as “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, “All roads lead to Rome”, “Italy has changed. But Rome is Rome”. My favourite and one that for me is so true is “You fall in love with Rome very slowly, little by little, but if it happens, it will be for a lifetime”. For me this reigns very true. In all honesty when I first got to Rome, I really didn’t like it. I was use to the modern city of Milan, the beauty of the Renaissance in Florence so when we got off the train at Roma Termini and started making our way to our apartment, I was starting to second guess our choice to Visit Rome. It was not that Rome was not beautiful and it wasn’t the people it was just that it was different to what we had experienced elsewhere in Italy. As the quote goes, little by little I fell in love with Rome and by the time we left the Eternal City it found a special place in my heart. Now, I have the fortune of going back to Rome in a few months’ time. This time with my son who by then will be 10. Traveling to Rome this time around is going to be very different as I am going to need to keep a 10-year-old entertained while still exposing him to the history and beauty of this magnificent city. In my quest to plan an amazing holiday for not only my son but for me as well, I would like to share with you the following:
The first thing I want to say about not only the Colosseum but also the Vatican and the Vatican Museum are three magical words . . . . SKIP THE LINE. When looking at tickets, it is worth time and sanity to get these tickets. It can save you hours of waiting in line. Now, back to the Colosseum. The Colosseum which opened in 80AD would be the first image people have when they think of Rome and it makes sense to also consider this site as a great attraction to bring your family. However, your standard entry ticket only gets you so far. There is so much more of the Colosseum to see including the underground. This is where they kept all the animals and the gladiators. There is also a third tier which is also off limits to the standard entry ticket. On the less crowded third tier you can get some amazing family photos to go on your wall when get home. There are many sites you find Skip the Line tickets to include these. For me I like to use www.Viator.com which is part of Tripadvisor so I feel a lot more secure booking through here.
Once you have been to the Colosseum there may be an interest in becoming a gladiator. Why not try your hand at being a gladiator for the day. The Historical Roman Group offer a two-hour Roman Gladiator Training which can be a lot fun for the whole family. For more information on the Gladiator School as well as the Historical Roman Group you will find it all here http://www.gruppostoricoromano.it/en/
Villa Borghese and its gardens
Join the locals and take some time out to explore the gardens. Take a paddle boat out onto the lake. Spend some time letting the children burn off energy at the playgrounds or even have some pony rides if you are there on the weekends. You can easily spend a couple of hours here. Once owned by the Borghese family, it was obtained by the city of Rome in 1903 and is now a public park that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The Vatican and Vatican Museum
While the words church and museum may not spark a lot of interest in children, when you tell them the roof of the Sistine Chapel was painted by a Ninja Turtle their interest may change. It may then be a good time to tell them who really painted it. On a more serious note, children can surprise you and this is one of the sites my son is more interested in seeing. Remembering those three magical words from earlier, a skip the line ticket will be a life saver. One thing to point out is that St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum are in two different places. For the museum you will need to go around to the right of the Basilica and around the corner to get to the museum. There are children friendly skip the line tours available. This will help keep the children (and the adults) interested as they explain and make it easy to understand what you are looking at.
Catacombs and Appia Antica
Add a dose of spooky and a splash of history and you get the Catacombs of Catacomb of St. Callisto, the Catacombs of St. Sebastian and Appia Antica. Both Catacombs are situated either just off of (Catacomb of St. Callisto) or on Appia Antica. One of the most famous roads of Europe and the oldest in Rome, Appia Antica was constructed, at least the first 90km, in 312BC. It was built as means to easily get the military in and out of Rome as well as supplies. By 190BC Appia Antica stretched 645km to Brindisi, a port on the east coast of Italy. Walking along this highway to history you will come across ancient monuments, underground tunnels, aqueducts and of course the two most popular Catacombs. Despite what many believe, the catacombs were not used by Christians to hide from persecution. They were used for those who could not afford the extravagant burial monuments that lined Appia Antica. Getting to Appia Antica you can take the public bus 118 (except Sunday) from near the colosseum or Piazza Venezia. Some hop on hop off bus companies such as Big Bus Rome also include this route in some of their options.
Built is 1762 and standing 26.3m high and 49.15m wide the Trevi Fountain is a fountain of beauty. Most probably the most famous fountain in the world. Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you’re bound to return to Rome. You should take the coin in your right hand, face with your back to the fountain and throw it over your left shoulder. If you throw two coins, you’ll find love as well; three will ensure marriage.
Pizza Making classes
One of the best things about Rome and Italy is the food. Pizza can be found in restaurants all over Rome which makes it very convenient to sample good traditional pizza. However, what happens when it is time to leave Rome and go home? Why not join one of the many pizza making classes in Rome so that when you do go back home, you can take that little bit of Italy with you.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, when in Rome there is always time for gelato. Whether eating gelato on the Spanish Steps or eating while wondering around, a gelato in hand always makes things better. While there are hundreds of places to sample gelato I highly recommend Frigidarium. Located on the corner of Via Sora and Via del Governo Vecchio which is about a 3 minute walk from Piazza Navona. I tried Gelato from many places throughout Italy and for me, this was the best. You can check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Frigidarium/
On a final note, I briefly mentioned hop on hop off buses when talking about getting to Appia Antica. There are a few of these companies in Rome and they are a wonderful hassle free way to get around the city. Tickets will vary from 24 hours to 72 hour tickets. Check out https://www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com/rome-bus-tours which is great to see which one offers.