Favorite Kid-Friendly Activities in Rome



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Guide written by Nancy Solomon and Shannon Venable of Italiakids.com

So you want to go to Rome with kids? You're NOT crazy. What could be a better way to bring history to life than ancient ruins from an empire that spanned the globe? This doesn't even factor in the excellent food, art, culture and the overall energy of this vibrant city. Rome does have an intimidating reputation, but if you pace yourself and add in some fun kid-friendly activities, it can be great urban destination for every age.

Note: Be sure to read the Day Notes for the kid-friendly details on recommended attractions.

Ciao Bambino provides tips and advice around all things related to traveling with kids and is a guide to the best kid friendly hotels.

Author: Ciao Bambino!


Day 1 - Rome


Piazza Navona and Campo de' Fiori

It's fun to imagine chariots racing around the beautiful, pedestrian Piazza Navona. Decorated with spectacular fountains, this is a wonderful place to hang out. The street performers and artists are fun to watch, and of course, don't miss Tre Scalini's Tartuffo ("Death by Chocolate" ice cream dessert). There are also several wonderful toy stores in and around this area. Al Sogno at Piazza Navona 53 is a great place to browse or pick up some toy souvenirs.

The food, the bartering, and the local scene at the Campo de' Fiori open-air market (open daily until 3p) make it a terrific stop. The Italian fruit sold at the market is perfectly ripened-my kids still talk about the figs and raspberries. Plus, we were able to buy a few items and have a lovely picnic, instead of going to a restaurant for lunch. On a small piazza adjacent to the Campo, you and the kids can stand in the approximate spot where Julius Caesar was murdered by his compatriots, at the Theater of Pompey. The restaurant Da Pancrazio at Piazza del Biscione 92 is housed in a remnant of this famous theater and serves simple Roman favorites popular with the little ones, such as spaghetti carbonara.

Double Decker Bus Tour:

Let's face it, when traveling with your kids, you are just not going to be able to see everything. That is why I have chosen a hop-on hop-off bus tour as the place to begin. It enables you to get oriented in the city and to see what piques your group's interest, so you can return later. Additionally, if you don't get to go back to a site, at least you've seen it. You can also use the bus instead of taxis to move around the city. Grab some fresh food and hop aboard to enjoy a moving picnic. My children always fall asleep and my husband and I get some time to decompress, while being able to pay more attention to an audio history of the sites.

Pantheon

What makes the Pantheon so terrific is that it is one of the few ancient sites that is still perfectly intact. It's a very easy stop for the kids. No lines, you just walk in and walk out at your own pace. Plus, it's surrounded by gelato shops and close to Piazza Navona. Among the many dignitaries, artists, and saints buried in the Pantheon lies Queen Margherita, who liked cheese pizza so much, it is now reputedly named after her in Italy, a fact children are likely to relate to! Upon leaving the Pantheon, walk over to the adjacent Piazza Minerva for a photo op with Bernini’s adorable baby elephant statue in front of the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (which houses important works by Michelangelo and Filippino Lippi).


1

Piazza Navona

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Location:

piazza Navona
00186 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 06 060 608(Tourist Information)
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2

Tre Scalini

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Location:

Piazza Navona 28
00186 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: 06.68.80.19.96
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3

Campo de' Fiori

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Location:

piazza Campo de' Fiori
Campo de' Fiori
00186 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 06 060 608(Tourist Information)
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4

Rome Hop-on Hop-off Double Decker Bus Tour

Location:

Rome, Italy

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5

The Pantheon

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Location:

piazza della Rotonda
Piazza della Rotonda
00186 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 6 6830 0230
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6

Trevi Fountain (Fontana dei Trevi)

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Location:

piazza di Trevi
Piazza di Trevi
00187 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 06 060 608(Tourist Information)
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Day 2 - Rome


Gladiator for a Day and the Colosseum

Tour the famous Colosseum and then head to school - Gladiator school! This combination of activities is sure to solidify and enhance your understanding of this early Roman sport. The Colosseum ticket office offers both audio and guided tours. Helpful tip: immediately after purchasing your tickets, use the public restrooms adjacent to the entrance to the interior of the Colosseum. Mandatory “potty breaks” like these can save you from the hassle of trying to exit to use the restroom and then reenter to finish your tour. As you are leaving, look for dressed-up gladiators-they make for fun family photos.

The Gladiator school, located right off The Appian Way, was hands-down, our favorite activity in Rome. Not too violent at all, this fun, 2 hour class includes an interactive demonstration of gladiator gear, followed by training, which includes running through a mock gauntlet and one-on-one battles with foam swords.

Imperial Forum

After the Colosseum, head down the Via dei Fori Imperiali to enter the Imperial Forum complex from this side (there is also an entrance from the Capitoline Museum side). Directly across the street from the entrance there is a nice visitor’s center, with decent public restrooms and interesting artifacts and architectural models of how the Forum appeared in antiquity.

Appia Antica

After the Forum, head back to Piazza Venezia (taking time to glance at Trajan’s Market), and consider catching the Archeobus out to the Appia Antica. The Archeobus is a 15-passenger air-conditioned van with hop-on hop-off stops from Piazza Venezia to Villa de Quintili by way of the Appia Antica and the Via Appia Pignatelli. Tickets can be purchased at the green ticket booth at Via San Marco, in front of Palazzo Venezia, for 7.50 euro. The bus runs from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., with extended hours to 7:00 p.m. in the winter


1

The Colosseum (Colosseo)

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Location:

Piazza del Colosseo
Piazzale del Colosseo, Via dei Fori Imperiali
00184 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 6 700 4261 / +39 6 700 5469
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2

Roman Gladiator School: Learn How to Become a Gladiator

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Location:

via Appia Antica 18
00179 Rome, Italy

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tel: +39 06 51607951
fax: +39 06 51606504
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3

Roman Forum

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Location:

Via Romolo Artioli
00186 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 06 3996 7700
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4

Appia Antica

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Location:

42 Via Appia Antica
00179 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 6 512 6314 / +39 6 513 0682
fax: +39 6 5188 3879
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Day 3 - Rome


The Vatican

The key to a successful family visit to the Vatican is planning ahead. To avoid long lines, either buy tickets in advance or book a tour. Given that tours of the Vatican—which include the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Cathedral—will take 3-4 hours, plan accordingly with your kids. There are plenty of tours offered on Viator. I also like Context Travel's services in general (although I haven't taken their Vatican for Families tour). Also, having an idea of what you want to see prior to arrival enables you to streamline your visit into a manageable amount of time for the kids.

Castel Sant’Angelo

This imposing monument will thrill kids as they climb to the top of the ramparts of a once legendary fortress and take in the incredible lay of the land, along with many secret chambers, jails, crenelated fortifications, and displays of weapons and armor. Even better, there is a nice shady park directly in front of the fortress along the Tiber River with slides, seesaws, swings, and plenty of room to run around. In the summer, there is a festival here in the evening with food, craft stalls, and music. Walking back across the river of Bernini’s Bridge of Angels is a memorable experience for all.”


1

The Vatican

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Location:

viale Vaticano
Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 06 6982 (Switchboard)
fax: +39 06 6988 5518
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2

Castel Sant'Angelo

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Location:

Lungotevere Castello 50
Near Vatican City
00193 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 6 328 691
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Day 4 - Rome


Villa Borghese Gardens

If you have additional time, I recommend playing with other Roman families in the Borghese Gardens. This huge park has everything a child could want, including large grass spaces, a zoo, playgrounds with bumper cars and games, bike rentals, pony rides and a pond where you can rent rowboats. There is also a children’s arts and crafts center at the Casina di Rafaello, with a library, gift shop, outdoor interactive play area, and regular performances as well as kids’ art workshops. Next to the Children’s Movie Theater (which also has a great café and bookstore), there is an antique carousel. Enter the park at the Porta Pinciana gate and walk straight ahead to the front of the Borghese Gallery to catch the small electric train, which till take you to the various stops around the park. After some sightseeing, this is a great place to let kids be kids!


1

Villa Borghese

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Location:

piazzale del Museo Borghese 5
00196 Rome, Italy

Contact:

tel: +39 6 48 8991 (Tourist Information)
fax: +39 6 481 9316 (Tourism Board)
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