Things to Do in Rome with Kids
When you go to Rome with kids, my first advice would be: be a storyteller. Tales of gladiators, lions, and brothers Romul and Rem will put them in the mood for sightseeing in Rome. I was happy to meet one of the best tour guides in Rome Sergio Grom who have told me some things you can not read anywhere, but you will find them in this story. For example, did you know why people have to toss coins in Trevi Fountain over their shoulders? At our What to do in Rome list, the Colosseum was at the top. The Colosseum was at the top of our ‘what-to-do in Rome’ list.
Rome is an open-air museum with sights at every step, but the Colosseum is the main symbol of the eternal city and one of the seven wonders of the world. Saint Bede said, “While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.” The Colosseum has 76 entries, but we did not enter even one. We admired it from the outside. The entrance was 12 euros and there was nothing going on inside. In Roman times, the entrance was free for everyone. Of course, the first level of the Colosseum was reserved for the emperor and his senators, so they could watch bloody gladiators fight from the closest distance. We would never watch that even for free.
Palatine Hill is in the same area as the Colosseum and Roman Forum. When you look at all these ruins and structures, you need to use a lot of fantasy to imagine what it originally looked like.
Ruins would not be interesting to children without stories to go with them. The legend of twin brothers, Romulus and Rem, is the most fascinating. They would never have built eternal Rome, the Arch of Septimus Severus, Temple of Saturn, Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals and much more if a she-wolf didn’t nurse and raise those poor kids.
This is the most important forum in ancient Rome, situated on low ground between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. It was the commercial, political and religious center of the Roman World. All important events took place here; elections, public speeches, and senator’s meetings. If your kids start complaining that they don’t want to see more ruins, just remind them that they are walking on the same stones as Caesar once did.
The Altar of Homeland
This is one of those buildings that man can see from the moon; so huge, so shiny, so white and solemn. The Italians consider the Altar of the Homeland a monument of the greatest symbolic value. They have so many statues all over the monument so we don’t understand why some human beings have to act like statues too. We felt sorry for the guards who were standing there like pillars. They are not allowed to move at all but if you look carefully, you will see them breathing so you know they are alive. The children tried to imitate them so for at least once in their young lives, they were in one place for a whole 10 seconds.
Throw Money into the Trevi Fountain
Rome has about 280 fountains but its most famous one is Fountain di Trevi. The legend says that if you throw a coin in, you will return to Rome. Toss in two more coins and you’ll be met with a new romance. The reason why people have to toss coins in Trevi fountain over their shoulder is that human beings cant see gods. After you toss coins a nymph or a triton is coming to pick up your gift and, happy about this, they will fulfill your wishes. First of all the one to come back.
It is not an original idea to toss a coin in some fountain and make a wish, but it seems that this place has hypnotized visitors from all over the world, and of course our kids were no different. My 5-year-old daughter threw a coin in but after a few seconds, she changed her mind and wanted to take it back. Too late though, because the policemen standing around don’t let you change your mind. “I want my coin back,” she cried. “Darling, those who throw a coin it will come back to Rome again in the future,” I comforted her. “I don’t want to come back to Rome again, I want to buy ice-cream with that money”. Another urban legend says that all those collected coins (more than 3 thousand euros per day) are cleaned, weighed, counted and given to charity. Hmm…
This building was originally a temple dedicated to the seven planetary divinities and now is used as a church. The most impressive aspect of Pantheon is the sunlight streaming in from the oculus at the center of the dome. Entrance is free!
Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful Roman squares because of its three magnificent fountains and the Baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. The most spectacular monument in the square is Bernini’s Fountain ‘Four rivers’, a figurative representation of four continents: the Danube for Europe, the Ganga for Asia, the Nile for Africa and the Rio for America. Navona is not just a square with restaurants and cafes; it is a big stage with continual performances by various street artists, musicians, painters, and acrobats.
The Spanish steps seem to be a great place to sit and watch the world go by. There are people constantly lingering, drinking, eating and chatting on the most famous steps in the world. Our children were sitting long enough to take just one photo.
Where to eat in Rome?
Pizzeria Romana Bio Food is a stylish eatery near Navona square with high stools to eat in or take away. They have a really great choice of pizza slices, especially for vegans and vegetarians. It was more delicious than all the other pizzas we tasted in Italy, including Naples.
Best Tiramisu in Rome
When someone says that have the best tiramisu in town, you know it is probably just a good marketing trick, but you are never sure until you actually taste it! We did not know there were so many variations of tiramisu. We tried the pistachio and classic one and discovered it was not just a marketing trick after all!
Best ice-cream we tasted in Rome
Venchi, a chocolate and gelato shop, looks like a chocolate museum with a broad selection of fine chocolates and artisan gelato flavors of the Italian tradition. The tasting experience was highly memorable. We thought that it can not be better than this, but some locals told us that the best ice cream in Rome is in La Gelateria Frigidarium, only 5 minutes away from Piazza Navona.
Tour guide in Rome
If you need an experienced tour guide in Rome who will tell you interesting stories and bring attractions to life, we recommend Sergio Grom. He actually wrote a short guide about Rome including tips on how to motivate kids to pose questions. You can read about him at Tours by Locals site, but you better contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you travel to Italy with kids or even without kids, you might like to read more travel stories by Mom the Muse.