1/10 The Collosseum
Why go? No visit to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum, Italy’s most famous amphitheatre and the largest in the world.
Activities: Grab yourself an experienced guide for a gruesome history lesson: children love to hear stories of gory battles between gladiators, animals, slaves and prisoners. The sheer scale of this fabulous iconic structure is one thing, the history it embodies something altogether different. The Colosseum regularly hosts exhibitions on the theme of ‘Ancient’ and ‘Modern.’
2. GLADIATOR LESSONS
2/10 Gladiator lessons
Why go? The kids have seen the movies and bought the T-shirts… now let them get a bit of the action!
Activities: Join gladiator lessons run by the Historic Group of Rome, which specialises in the re-enactment of Roman life and gladiatorial combat. The school is situated on the ancient Appian Way and kids and adults alike can dress in traditional gladiator tunics while learning the basic techniques of gladiatorial sword fighting and mastering the essentials of hand-to-hand combat.
3/10 Villa Borghese
Why go? Rent a bike and check out Rome’s most central, cultural and beautiful park, Villa Borghese. A lake, manicured lawns, landscaped gardens, fountains, statues and playgrounds all go some way to filling this 1,700-acre expanse in the centre of the city.
Activities: A great spot for a picnic, and ideal for kids to run, cycle or row off any surplus energy. It’s also home to some excellent museums and galleries – including the Galleria Borghese – with works by Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens, among others.
4/10 Bioparco Di Roma
Why go? On the northern boundary of Villa Borghese, Rome’s zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe and has been massively overhauled in the last few years into a pretty biological garden and animal conservation park. Home to over 1,000 animals and 200 different species, Bioparco di Roma is small, but a great way of spending a couple of hours learning about animal wellbeing and staving off cultural overload.
Activities: Ride the Bioparco express, watch the animal feeding presentations or relax on the lakeside while the kids enjoy the animal ark play area.
5/10 Piazza Novona
Why go? The atmospheric and charmingly pretty Piazza Novona, built around three lavish baroque fountains, is a great place to stop for a breather during a day’s sightseeing. It’s a buzzy square where people gather to cool off with splashes from the fountains.
Activities: Check out the street artists and barter with traders. A good spot to hang out, grab a drink or enjoy an ice cream at one of the many stylish restaurants.
6/10 Giolitti’s Gelato
Why go? An Italian institution, considered by most Romans to be the best gelato shop in town, it’s also the oldest – locals say that Giolitti’s (Via Uffici del Vicario) is the only place to go for a taste of frozen perfection. There are plenty of places that present their ice cream with far more finesse, but when it comes to the taste test there is only one winner.
Flavours: Offering dozens of varieties of ice cream, from rice, chocolate fondant, champagne and figs: the difficulty is choosing which one to enjoy!
7/10 La Bocca Della Verità
Why go? For a bit of fun, take the kids to visit La Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth. The large face, carved from marble, is located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin and has always been a great draw for visitors of all ages.
Activities: Legend has it that if you tell a lie with your hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it will be bitten off! We would suggest planning this for the end of your trip for a fib free holiday!
8/10 Explora Museum
Why go? There is nothing “museumy” about Explora: in fact there is nothing very Italian about it either. A fully interactive and hands-on, climb aboardand act-it-out venue designed specifically for under-12s.
Activities: From the indoor play area for toddlers to the miniature supermarket, TV studio, bank and multimedia lab – it’s role-play heaven, and educational to boot. It’s not what you come to Rome for, but if little ones need some down time it’s a great junior hangout.
9/10 Pizza-making classes
Why go? Katja Hansel is a mother and family friendly tour guide who offers two to three hours of junior culinary fun in the form of traditional pizza-making.
Activities: Watch the experts at work in an authentic pizzeria before selecting your favourite ingredients and producing your own edible mini masterpiece. And the only thing better than making your own pizza? Pulling it out of the wood-fired oven and eating it, of course.
10/10 The Vatican
Why go? It may be the world’s smallest state but it punches way above its size in religious, historical, cultural and architectural respects.
Activities: With or without the kids, viewing Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in The Vatican is a must, and the view from St Peter’s dome is one of the best in Rome, and well worth the 330 step climb to the top. There are walking tours available, taking visitors through the main highlights of the Vatican treasures.