There is so much to do in Rome. Doing “Not Much”, is one of the best with kids.
Rome is a wonderful place for kids. Depending on their ages, you just need to tailor your trip to include a bit of “them” time, whilst making sure they are not bored with the you time. It is not that difficult as Rome is a very safe city, endlessly fascinating in many different ways.
The assumption is that kids will not enjoy all the cultural and historic stuff in Rome – therefore, they won’t enjoy it. This is very wrong. Unlike most cities, Rome is surprisingly child friendly, not just in the sense they are welcome and safe, but they really enjoy it. But you just can’t apply the same rules as you would if it was adults only.
There are a number of books written on enjoying Rome with kids, centred around one of two themes. Either, you engage the child fully in the exploration of the history and art, making the whole thing a big learning game. Or books that point out all the different things in Rome set up for kids (childrens science museum, water parks etc).
I find the second theme, of kids stuff, a little pointless. Why come to Rome. Go to a theme park for a holiday and you will have 7 days of happy kids – totally uninteresting for a family, but great for those who put their children first always (Yip, I am not one of those – I believe all time is for all the family etc, and learning to get along with others is part of their growing up).
Certainly, engaging the kids in the history and culture as a big fantasy story (must include gladiator stories and some gory bits) is incredibly rewarding for those who get it right. Some parents just don’t have the natural “kiddy skills” to make it all very interesting, and end up in situations where they are rabbiting on with “ooh, and then Ceasar, the big curly headed leader, said to everyone, hey, lets set the lions on some Christians – won’t that be cool!”. While they try to be hip, the kids just roll their eyes and want to get on with it. Parents think “wow, they are really enthusiastic”. Kids are really thinking “Jess, ma, you are soooo embarrassing. Can we get out of here”.
But there is so much to explore for kids without having any program. I split my thoughts into two age groups. Young and Teens.
For the young, like my children, it is endless fun. Below is a video of an afternoon walk from Campo dei Fiori to the River. If I had been filming specifically for this article I would have filmed them also playing around more in the Ghetto, where we went for ice cream. No matter who you are, when you see the kids playing amongst renaissance statues and Roman Ruins (Teatro Marcello) it is very rewarding. But also the many Piazza’s and little cobbled streets are great for them to play and explore. Yes, you have to watch for moto scooters, but it is not that difficult.
For the teens, who like watching and being watched (the basis of Italian culture), then any Piazza will do, and the film below shows just the Spanish steps one afternoon, where people gather to do pretty much nothing, sit and talk and watch, take photos, of themselves and others taking photos. Trastevere is also a great area, as is the Campo area.
Having been with smaller children in Rome (mine were born there), I understand why they like it. I see them happy all the time just kicking around the streets. But I was surprised by how many families who came to Rome and their teenagers really enjoyed it. If you are coming from the new world or northern Europe, it is like no city they have ever seen.
The main point with any age child is to understand, with a little build up talk, you can even get them into museums and churches and have them explore and look and enjoy it. But simply understand that you need to break it up with some other activities – just like anywhere.
I would be very interested to hear about other experiences, good or bad, with different children.
Written by Tim Pearson. Having lived in Rome for many years, he currently splits his time between Rome and the UK and has recently started a website about photography and film, mainly in Rome, at this address: http://www.roamingpics.comRate this article by clicking here.
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