Mon, October 4th, 2010 - By

Family Friendly Rome Attractions

Your average trip to Rome includes a few guarantees: dusty cobblestone roads (understandable – many of them are the same routes the Romans used) and massive queues (hey – it’s Rome!).

But if you’re worried about not finding enough gelato to calm those cranky children, here are a few attractions that will have them excited about Italy and help them appreciate Italy for more than “that awesome country with lots of pasta.”

The Keyhole at the Knights of Malta

Looking through the keyhole at the Villa of the Knights of Malta

I love this little trip, because it’s fun and mysterious all at the same time. From the old Roman forum, just head for Rome’s Aventine Hill, and head up. It’s not a terribly steep climb, and along the way there are a couple of just beautiful gardens with great views that you can stop to rest (or play). At the top, you’ll reach the mansion owned by the Knights of Malta. You’ll probably have to wait in a short queue, and then take a peek through the keyhole. WOW! It is St. Peter’s Basilica, perfectly framed around the hedges of their garden.

The question: is it real or not? I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself.

Villa Borghese

Roma - Villa Borghese

Galleria Borghese old Roman mansion turned art gallery, one of Rome most beautiful museums and it holds the personal collection of Scipione Borghese, and many say it’s the best collection of art in the world. Without a doubt, it is stunning. It’s hard to get in though – you must book ahead because the number of visitors each day is restricted.

The highlight for the wee ones is a romp around the gardens – the second largest public park in Rome. They’re filled with flower beds, pounds and fountains, and several other smaller villas – including some bits and pieces of old Roman architecture. You’ll notice a distinctly English flair to some of the garden areas, and that was intentional and the look the original architect was trying to achieve.

Isn’t art a little more fun when you can enjoy it out in the sunshine, with some fresh air, and stretch your legs or relax on a bench in between exhibits?

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

This is no tourist secret, but any family can easily spend an afternoon just lazing around this famous Roman square. First are the fountains and their mythological statues playing around in the waters. There are the street performers with their antics – though some of them are so bad, they’re funny because they’re bad. And there’s nothing like relaxing in the sun and just enjoying a spot of people watching.

A lot of people will dissuade you from having a meal here in the Piazza – and I wouldn’t disagree with them by saying you will pay a premium for doing so. But for me, it’s worth it just for the ambience and experience of sitting on the terrace, enjoying that glass of wine and relaxing. Most of the restaurants offer oversized sundaes and other fun choices to keep the youngsters happy while you relax.

The Spanish Steps

The 138 stairs of the Spanish Steps are another quintessential Roman sight, but for children they can be a riot, as all along the way you’ll find buskers doing their dancing tricks, artists selling kid-sized paintings that would make a great souvenirs, and Roman families themselves taking a respite from their daily routine. This is also a popular spot to grab a gelato and sit to enjoy, particularly in the late afternoon when the quality of light makes for the perfect pictures to send back home, though Roman law forbids people eating on the steps – but when in Rome, do as the Romans, right?

Personally I’d skip the McDonald’s at the foot of the stairs, which was the first to be opened in the city – it seems out of place next to a set of stairs from the 17th century, but the tea room nearby is pretty tasty. They have over 30 types of tea as well as foodstuff s from all across Europe.

Image credits: heatheronhertravels, cebete, davehamster, yourdon

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 11:59
Category : Activities
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