I was so excited to bring Lightning to Rome. She is a huge fan of the Greek and Roman Gods and we have studied several pieces of art work from the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica; she also thinks gladiators are way cool.
Rome was and was not what I expected. The”ruins”, pieces of history, mixed in with every day life are abundant. You could drive by the Colosseum every day on your way to work, but it is also everything a city is…very tourist oriented with people trying to sell you something every 5 steps (I exaggerate here). I am from New York, this doesn’t phase me too much, but what did was all the walking. We took the Metro, the bus, and taxis and my feet were still killing me…imagine how my 9 year old felt? In my opinion there is just too much walking around Rome for younger children to really enjoy Rome (some elderly were clearly winded by the warm weather and walking; sadly an elderly woman passed out on the Vatican Museum property at the earlier part of the tour following several staircases). Elevators are not abundant and if there is one it is usually in a remote location (our guide would point them out but then tell you once your exited the elevator to find him after he provided you some direction). You could take taxis and buses more often but I find the lure of a city is walking the streets and immersing into life in that city. There were crowds at every site we visited, however, with our incredible tour guide, Stefano, from I love Rome Tours, we moved fairly effortesly through the Coliseum, Vatican, Basilica and Palentine Hill. We were fortunate to have him as our tour guide on two tours.
If I was asked about traveling with a child to Rome I would suggest waiting until at least the early teenage years and advise you to visit in October or November. I thought September would be a good month considering the weather was still warm and schools were in session, but apparently half the world has the same idea. Our tour guide said in a few more weeks, we were there the first week in September, Rome would not be as busy and moving through tourist sites would be much easier.
Tips for Traveling to Rome with kids:
- Wait until there early teens (the only deterrent to bringing younger children is the walking and the long tours). I believe my child will always remember the trip and I am not sorry we did it, however, if I had to do it again I would probably go when she was 12-13. I think she would have tolerated the walking and tours better, although she had a great time.
- Bring good walking shoes and plenty of water.
- Travel in October.
- Take tours for hot spots, such as the Vatican and Coliseum. The lines are pretty extensive and the information provided was well worth it. Give yourself a day between tours to re-couperate from all the walking. Book your tours ahead of time if you are able to ensure the time and day you desired
- Tours are not necessary for all the places you visit. You need some down time to walk around on your own and just enjoy the city. Have a long lunch people watching. We loved our lunch outside on a main street in Rome people watching.
- Rent bikes and tour less popular hot spots.
- Take a break and pretend to be a resident and enjoy dining out and relax a little. If you take younger kids make sure you try to find a playground or park area and jut let them play (we found Borghese Park and it was a welcome break).
Check out my next post about the specifics of our time in Rome.