Overview of Rome
The city of Rome is the historic capital of Italy and of Roma Provincia in Italy’s Lazio region. It is also known as “Caput Mundi” – the capital of the world. It is located in the central area of the Italian peninsula on the banks of the Tiber, and less than 25 kilometers from the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea on Italy’s west coast.
Rome has a storied history that dates back to prehistoric times. It was the hub of the Roman Empire and hence a major influence on the culture of the entire Western World. Rome is also the spiritual and physical capital of the Catholic Church.
It is the prime travel destination for anyone interested in western cultural and intellectual history not only from the times of the Roman Empire but again in the Enlightenment. And on top of all this, the “Eternal City” today is a place full of modern life colour and beauty. Modern Rome is a rich and exciting place to be. This is Italy after all. Italy on steroids.
Is Rome Good for Families?
We have visited Italy several times, but this is the first time we have been together in Rome. Now lots of what we love about Italy has fallen into place. Rome embodies so much to love, and yes – it is family friendly in almost all its aspects. When you set foot in Rome, you immediately feel deeply at home. Forget that adage about doing as the Romans do. There is something about the city that makes it impossible to feel like an outsider. That is why we and many families from across the world love it. Young kids love the beautiful townscape, historic landmarks, and a plethora of art and architecture in the city. Rome also has some of the most stunning townscape in Italy and that means in the world . . . and the coffee and the ice cream? Drag me away from them (or please don’t).
Is Rome Safe for Kids?
Before I go any further. Of course, no travel destination in this world is a hundred percent safe, there is always a risk. Even your neighborhood is not safe! Back to Rome, it does have a reputation for pickpockets – the most common crime there is non-violent theft. Rome is safe for kids and every traveller, but your security begins with you. Watch out for pickpocketing and scams.
What is there to do in Rome with Children?
Ancient Rome with Kids
One of the best things about Rome is that its past glories are accessible to the public either free or with Rome Passes and Cards. Most of these attractions are compactly located, which means you can tour a number of them on foot and in a short time.
We started our sightseeing of Ancient Rome from the walking tour of Ancient Rome – it gave us a great overview of the history of Rome before we started exploring each site. Amedeo our tour guide was great and thought us lots of interesting facts about Rome.
Visit the Colosseum
This ancient Roman amphitheatre is the archetypal and the largest in the world. Officially named the Flavian Amphitheater, there is something about this imposing monument that even just walking by without in-depth observation, is an incredible experience.
The amphitheater was built in 80 A.D by Emperor Vespasian and was the home to many kinds of spots including gladiator and animal fights.
While here, make sure you don’t miss to check out the area where lions used to live. The subterranean compartment held cages for elephants, lions, leopards, and bears, which were used in the famous battles or circus performances.
You and your family can visit the Colosseum only by using a Colosseum and Roman Forum Pass or a buying a Colosseum ticket. Best book tickets online as due to pandemic there is limited amount of entry to the Colosseum.
The Pantheon was completed by Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 AD. It is the temple of all the Roman gods and is among the most recognizable European landmarks.
The highlight of Pantheon is its famous dome, which is around 42 meters in circumference and, interestingly, hangs without any supports but the walls of the building. Because of the unique construction style of this structure, it does not have windows. So the lighting is provided by the huge hole on the top, measuring about 3.6 meters wide.
However, we learned that the hole might have another purpose than just letting in light. During ancient times, the people celebrated the founding of Rome on April 21 every year. The emperor would address people from the Pantheon, and so when he entered the building at noon, the hole above was designed that the sun would shine directly onto the entrance, making his entrance transfiguration-like.
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum is a massive complex made of ancient temples, arches, and basilicas. The area served as the legal, social, ceremonial, and business center for the prehistoric Rome, though brothels and food stalls were destroyed later on.
The Forum is best viewed from the Capitoline Hill. It is a gentle walk that even young kids and elderly can manage.
Wandering around the Forum is an unforgettable experience.
The ticket for the site also includes the Palatine Hill. This used to be the home of ancient Rome’s emperors and aristocrats from the first century BC. There is a board on the hill with information on the sites you are looking at.
In addition to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the tick also includes the Palatine Museum and the Colosseum.
The Capitoline Hill used to be an important Roman hub and also where the Temple of Jupiter was located. Today, the oldest museum on earth, the Palazzo Nuovo, can be found here, as well as numerous Roman and Greek sculptures and the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The hill also offers magnificent views of the Rome city center.
Do you want to learn more about Italy – Read Interesting facts about Italy
The Trajan’s Markets were constructed in 100 AD by Emperor Trajan and consisted of more than 150 shops and business offices. They were once among the world wonders of the classical period. It is believed that the market sold almost everything and anything.
The markets are located at the opposite end of the Colosseum on the Via dei Fori Imperiali and one of the easiest free things to do in the city. You can get their glimpse by walking along the road between the Victor Emmanuel sculpture and the Colosseum.
But if you want to walk inside the complex and view all the markets, you will have to buy a ticket, which also includes access to the nearby museum dedicated to the markets.
The Circus Maximus is where chariot races took place in ancient times and later as a market garden. The site, which still has the tracks and the sloping walls, where spectators supposedly used to sit, is now a beautiful park that occasionally holds public gatherings and music concerts.
Baths of Caracalla
Located around 15 minutes’ walk from the Circus Maxims are the huge remnants of the Terme de Caracalla. They were built in 217 AD by Emperor Caracalla.The highlight here is the visual/audio tour, which allows visitors to see how the place used to look back in the days. This is important especially for young kids as it enables them to understand what they are seeing.
Visit the catacombs
These spooky tunnels with tombs are always a hit with the kids. The catacombs present another chance for your kids to get another dose of Ancient Roman history. The Appian Way is home to two of the most popular catacombs in Rome.
The Catacomb of St. Callisto is the largest and is the final resting place of early popes having been built in the 2nd century AD. It is quite intriguing, with colorful graffiti decoration of fish, doves, and other ancient Christian symbols.
The Catacombs of Domitilla is also among the most important and features over 15,000 graves spread over 10 miles. The cemetery is well-preserved and a little off the beaten paths.
The Catacombs of St. Sebastian were built by the emperor Constantine and used to be the resting place of St Paul and St Peter until the remains were moved to San Paulo Fuori le Mura and the Vatican respectively. The walls of these catacombs are also painted in Christian graffiti.
Gladiator School – Roman Gladiator Show
Roman gladiators are among the most well-known warriors from the ancient times that even young children have heard about them. At the Gladiator School, kids have a chance to learn how to become these historical warriors. They wear leather gloves and a tunic and reenact gladiator swordplay.
The class takes two hours and starts with a trip to the Gruppo Storico Romano Museum, where you will see authentic artifacts and some replica armors.
Free Gladiator Museum
We discovered the Gladiator Museum during the evening stroll on Piazza Navona. Small museum is located in the basements of a Souvenir shop. You can see and read here about different gladiators uniforms. Currently museum is free and I would encourage you to visit just to see how many different outfits gladiators wore.
Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth)
The Mouth of Truth is located at the entrance of Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church. It is a large marble mask that is believed to bite those who lied. A great place to teach your kids the virtue of honesty!
The giant mask is believed to have been made to be used as a manhole cover, ceremonial well cover, fountain decoration, and many other theorized purposes.
Classical Rome with kids – explore Piazzas and Fountains
Transitioning from ancient to modern Rome is fascinating. Despite being a prehistoric city, it has modern attractions that you would find in any modern world capital.
Throw Money into the Trevi Fountain
One of the highlights of the trip to Rome is throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain. This magical fountain is located at the end of Aqua Virgo aqueduct and was built to provide water to the Baths of Agrippa from the Salone Springs in the outskirts of Rome.
The fountain is the largest in Rome and among the most famous in the world.
It is believed that throwing coins into the fountain will bring you luck. To throw the coin, place it in your right hand and toss it over your left shoulder.
Unknown thief nicknamed d’Artagnan swept the coins from the fountain for 34 years without being caught, despite being an offence to steal the coins.
This public open square used to be a place for watching ancient games (agones) and was even known as Circus Agonalis back them.
Piazza Navona is among the largest and most striking piazza squares in Rome. It has three remarkable fountains with impressive Sant’Agnese in Agone church in the backdrop.
The square is surrounded by several dining options as well as painters, street art, and live performances that add the vibrancy to the place.
Tour an Underground House
Around 5 meters below Piazza Novana, there are ancient remnants of the first-ever masonry stadium in the history of the Roman Empire. Learn about the history of the square and the stadium as well as the history of Roman sports. The paid tour includes an audio guide for young children (6-year-olds).
Campo de’ Fiori
If you are planning to have a picnic in one of the great piazzas in Rome, you should buy some fresh, delicious fruits at Campo de’ Fiori.
This lively and colorful market offers a much-needed respite from the world of monuments and the ancient ruins. It gives the feeling of a real city.
But the most interesting thing about this market and many people miss it, is that the street signs contain the names of traders whose stalls used to line the particular street in the ancient time.
About 20 minutes’ walk across the river from the market, there is Gianicolo, a stunning park with amazing views of the city and ideal for a picnic.
The Spanish Steps
Piazza Del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo (People Square) or as my girls call it: Octopus square (il Polpo – octopus) was probably our favourite square as we were entering “ancient Rome” quite often through the Porta del Popolo. and follow one of the roads (octopus legs) either towards the Spanish Steps or Pantheon.
On the left from the Piazza are stairs which lead you to The Pincian Hill (and later to the Borghese Park) from where you have a great view on Piazza, Rome and you can even see St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican
Explore Rome’s Churches
Rome has a church in almost every street corner. We did manage to pop into a few of them because the kids are not that enthusiastic about churches.
Chiesa SS Nome di Maria and Santa Maria de Loreto
These two churches are probably the most popular and beautiful in Rome. They are located near other attractions like the Trajan’s Markets and the Rome Forum. Their small sizes mean you can easily check them before your kids’ patient wane out.
Visitors are not allowed to take pictures of the interior of the church, but the outside is just as beautiful.
Santa Maria Maggiore
Polished marble, spiraling columns, amazing statues, and glittering stained glass are what await you at the Santa Maria Maggiore church. The gold that adorns the ceiling of the basilica is believed to have been brought by Christopher Columbus from his expedition in the New World.
The church was built at the site where snow fell in the summer of 358 AD, as foretold by the Virgin Mary.
San Pietro in Vincoli
Located a few meters from the Colosseum, San Pietro in Vincoli (St Peter in Chains) is where the Moses statue is located. The statue sits on top of the Pope Julius II tomb and is still incomplete since Michelangelo, who was commissioned to create it, was contracted to design the Sistine Chapel.
The chains that were on St Peter while he was in prison are on display at the church.
Santa Maria in Cosmdedin
This basilica is where the Mouth of Truth is found. Visitors can tour inside the church where they will find the artifact of St Valentine.
The Crypt of the Capuchin Monks
The Capuchin Crypt is a small complex consisting of tiny chapels below the Basilica of Santa Maria della Concezione del Cappuccini near Piazza Barberini.
It is one of the spookiest places we have ever visited and probably unsuitable for kids who are not brave. The crypt contains skeletal of around 3,700 bodies of supposedly Capuchin friars.
The tour begins with a stop at the museum where you learn about the kind of lives the Capuchin monks lived
After that, you descend into the catacombs, where the skeleton remains are arranged artistically in six rooms. Some of the bodies are mummified and as you are still terrified, a sign tells “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you will be” in three languages, just to make sure you get the message!
Explore Museums in Rome
Rome has its fair share of great museums and art galleries. We visited a number of them including:
Explora, Rome’s Children Museum
Explora Children’s Museum is a family favorite attraction in Rome. The massive gallery is jam-packed with hands-on activities that kids will enjoy.
The pieces in the gallery are for all ages, meaning you can all have a great time there.
Centrale Montemartini Museum
Originally a power plant, this museum houses some of the vest mechanical pieces in Italy along with an extensive collection of prehistoric Roman sculptures and statues.
Visit centrale Montemartini museum to admire the combination of machinery and charming, white marble, which echoes on two different eras in the history of the city.
The best art collection in Rome. If you have only one art museum you can visit go to Galeria Borghese. YOu will find here sculptures by Bernini, paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and more. Villa Borghese is full of amazing art but it can be a bit boring for kids.
Leonardo DaVinci Museum
There are four Leonardo DaVinci Museums in Rome !!! Read below which one is the most kid friendly.
- Museo Leonardo da Vinci located quite central – on entry to Piazza Popolo this small museum is quite interesting however its better to visit with older kids as there is lots to read, and unfortunately you can’t play with Da Vinci “toys” as you can in other museums.
Museum Leonardo Da Vinci Experience – our favourite Da Vinci museum in Rome – you can read about it below (in Vatican part) – we found this museum most family friendly from all of them.
- Mostra Leonardo Da Vinci – another great interactive museum, the whole family will enjoy it. Most of the replica of Leonardo inventions you can try – a big hit with kids. With tickets, you purchase discounted lunch in a local cafeteria.
Welcome To Rome
For more information about the storied history of Rome, check-in at the Welcome To Rome museum. The gallery features artifacts from 2,700 years ago told through multimedia experience.
The kids will love the interactive experience as they learn the different stages the Eternal City went through to become the big city it is today.
Wall Museum – The Aurelian Walls
Not knowing much about Rome and its history we got supprised by seeing walls around Rome. The best idea to learn about it was to visit Museo delle Mura. The museum is located in Porta San Sebastiano, the visit is free and as an extra bonus is that you can walk on the Aurelian Walls.
Part of our worldschooling routine is visiting various museums, including modern art museum like MAXXI – which is the National Museum of XXI Century Art. When we visited there was an interesting exhibition Home 20.20 showing projects and models of contemporary housing.
if you not into the modern art, just go there to see amazing design of the museum (by Zaha Hadid), or go for a coffee in arty restaurant, while kids can play on one of the classiest playgrounds we found in Rome.
MACRO is a Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome – and some of the art is really so contempoary that one start questioning is this really an art of just bu…it. But the inside of the building and some of the exhibitions, where you can participate in art by writing on exhibits, were great hit with my girls. Plus museum is free to enter and great place to spend some time on a hot day. when you there do visit the bathroom on the ground floor – it’s my kids favourite. its probably the funkiest toilet in whole Rome.
Visit the Vatican City with Kids
What the Vatican City lacks in area, it makes up for in splendor – and then some! The official residence of the Pope, this smallest capital/country in the world still has plenty of things to do and see with your kids, despite being just over 100 acres in size.
Visit Basilica and Climb St Peter’s Dome
The Basilica entrance is free, but if you want to climb up the dome, you will have to pay some fee. To climb using stairs, you will pay cash of 8 Euros, while using an elevator is 10 Euros. Note they accept cash only. Even if you take an option of the elevator you still have to climb over 300 steep steps around the dome, after first excitement kids were moaning a bit but the views inside the basilica dome and from it were worth the effort.
Otherwise, this should be a fun thing to do with your kids in Vatican City.
Visit the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are located inside the walls of Vatican City. The museums are pretty vast (it’s the 5th largest museum in the world) and feature large collections of pieces of art and other treasured antiquities as well as the famous Sistine Chapel.
Tickets to the Vatican Museum are currently only available online via Vatican Museum website. Book well in advance as they have limited spots.
Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition
The Vatican Museum is a few of the places in the world where you can find Leonardo Da Vinci’s artworks. Here you will find the artist’s unfinished painting titled St. Jerome in The Wilderness. And here as well you can try any of the 50. Da Vinci inventions. Currently, online booking with museum website gives you a surprise gift.
Location of the Museum
Visit the Pope while in Rome – Pope Audience
Also known as the General Audience, Pope Audience is when the Pope addresses the crowd in multiple languages in St Peter’s Square at 10 Am or 10:30 AM for an hour and a half.
To access this event, you will have to pass through security checks. You can check the schedule here.
Make sure you get there at least 3 hours early to find a good seat.
The Castle of the Holy Angel is a silent manifestation of the vast history of the city of Rome. It was first built as a crypt to hold the remains of the famous emperors in the Roman Empire but later served as a fortress, a Pope’s home, a prison, and execution ground.
Location of Castel Sant’Angelo
Must try food while in Rome with kids
Roman cuisine is known and loved worldwide for its exceeding flavorful and tastiness. During our time in the city, we tried out a number of delicious dishes.
Gelato: Gelato (Italian ice cream) is a very common scoop in Rome. You will see people walking on the street, riding the scooter, or driving with gelato on their hands.
While there are plenty of stalls selling these frozen treats, not all are made the same. The best places to buy a gelato are Fior di Luna, Otaleg, and Fatamorgana.
Roman-style pizza: Pizza originated from Naples, so the other versions are a bit different, including the Roman ones, which are known for being thinner, lighter, and crisper. Roman pizzas also tend to have classic Margherita (read about Pizza Margherita) or a couple of ingredients.
We tried different pizza, but because girls cannot eat cheese we tried pizza with potatoes and meat. very strange combination but extremely tasty.
Carbonara: Eating a perfect carbonara in a deli-restaurant is the most Roman thing you can ever do. This soft egg-based sauce, topped with tiny bits of juicy cured pork chops (guanciale), is one of the tastiest foods in the city.
Quinto Quarto: As it turns out, there is part of Italian cuisine that is not that pleasing, case in point, Quinto quarto. The name translates to “fifth quarter,” in other words, the bits that are left over after the four quarters are butchered from the animal – cow, pig, goat, or sheep – and can include tails, offal, feet, and other bits.
Fritti : Fritti is a Roman meal that comes in all sizes, shapes, batters, fillings, and breading.
Learn to Make Pizza
This is one activity that is guaranteed to pique the interest of your kids. Your kids are old enough; one of the things they will be looking forward to in Rome is pizza. Everyone in the city claims to make the most delicious pizza, but you and your kids can also learn how to prepare your own pie.
Check out prices and schedule here.
Explore Rome’s Parks
Rome is among the greenest cities in the world and because of that, almost every corner of the city has gorgeous canopy pines, palm trees with shades underneath, and terracotta structures with spilling ivy on the walls.
Villa Borghese Gardens
Villa Borghese gardens are the same for Rome as Central Park for New York. This heart-shaped vial is situated in the heart of the city and is famous for the Galleria Borghese museum, which features an impressive collection of art started by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the early 17th century.
The villa’s gardens contain numerous statues, small museums, fountains, and lakes.
Some of the lakes have boat rentals on the side. you can as well rent here small 4 wheels “bicycles-racers” great fun for older kids or go for a toy train around the park with the whole family. There is as well Zoo in part of the Villa Borghese Gardens but we decided not to visit it.
Orange Garden (Giardino Degli Aranci) on the Aventine Hill, officially known as Parco Savelli, mainly attracts people to photograph themselves on the observation deck with a view of the Rome.
Garden was designed in 1932 by planting orange trees in the former Dominican vegetable garden. The oranges are inedible, but some tourist trying them – not really tasty.
The garden is a good place to relax, listen to music (there are street artists performing). It’s a good place to photograph panorama of Rome, but you should have rather a photo lens, then the mobile phone.
Location of The Orange Garden
Family-Friendly Hotels in Rome
Rome offers a staggering amount of accommodation options and it can be stressful to zero in on the best overall.
Palazzo Manfredi is a hotel with the amazing views including the Colosseum, this 5-star accommodation might be a perfect nest for you and your family from which you can explore Rome. It is also located close to many facilities such as the Oppian Hill Park, the Colosseum, and pretty much any point of attraction in the city.
The family rooms have air conditioning and on top of the hotel is a rooftop terrace and a restaurant.
Hotel Mascagni is a 4-star family hotel is located within one of the well-served areas of the city in terms of transport and attractions.
The best selling point of this hotel is that they offer children doctor contacts, which may come in handy given that some people don’t react well with new food or a change in the climate.
Rome with Kids – Pin it for later
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