Rome might not be the first destination that springs to mind to take young children to however there are a plenty of activities to keep them amused during your stay.
One great place for children is the 3D Rewind Experience. www.3drewind.com It gives you and your children the chance to experience the atmosphere of ancient Rome and literally bring history to life. Through the use of some superb special effects and the most up to date technology, you’ll get the chance to watch the incredible games at the Colosseum, walk through the crowed Roman Forum and glance the Temple of Vesta. You’ll even get the chance to have your photo taken dressed in full Roman regalia. Your children will never again accuse history of being boring after a trip here – make sure you don’t miss this during your stay!
Another interactive experience worth visiting is the Time Elevator (www.timeelevator.it) which is a similar journey back in time taking you through 3000 years of Roman History in a fast 45 minutes. The legend of Romulus and Remus, the assassination of Julius Caesar and a glimpse of Michelangelo during the creation of the Sistine Chapel are all described along with much, much more! Projected on three wide screens with Dolby surround sound and available in six different languages (Italian, English, French, Spanish, German and Russian), it also includes multi-sensory effects such as rain and wind. The attraction also has a new 15 minute 5D experience taking visitors through the evolution of life on Earth, from the Big Bang to the emergence of man. Visitors will get the chance to witness the birth of the first forms of life, the evolution of species and the appearance of dinosaurs with the dreaded T-Rex and their extinction.
Make sure you head to the Explorer Childrens Museum in Rome too. Based around the idea that children learn by doing, it’s very much a ‘hands on’ museum with lots of interactive exhibits to enjoy, often based around a science theme. It’s an opportunity for your children to learn more about the world and the way in which things work. www.mdbr.it. Some other museums worth visiting, although far less interactive include the Museo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari with it’s displays of antique toys.
For those who want to combine a city trip with some excursions outside the centre of Rome, there are a few parks to consider. Firstly, there is the Monster Park, crammed full with eccentric monster sculptures that your little ones can climb on and explore. www.bomarzo.net The creation of the eccentric Prince Vicino Orsini, the story goes that upon completing the gardens and seeing his creation for the first time, he had an immediate heart attack, so gruesome were the sculptures!
A second option is Villa Ada, located just north of Rome. It’s a lovely place for a picnic on a sunny day and there are also plenty of activities to keep children entertained including roller-skating, cycling and children’s play areas. Finally there is Villa Torlonia, once the residence of Mussolini and now the home of the Museum of the House of Owls, which has recently been fully restored and now proudly displays majolica and stained glass decorations, including windows with owl motifs, which is where its name originates.
Villa Borghese is another must see attraction, particularly on a dry sunny day. You can hire a rowing boat for an hour or two, visit the Cinema dei Piccoli (officially the world’s smallest cinema), enjoy a pony ride, view the animals at the zoo (www.bioparco.it) or have a ride at the ittle funfair that is also within the grounds.
For those wanting a funfair on a larger scale, head to the Luna Park on the Via delle Tre Fontane instead. Popular with teenagers, it’s one of the largest and oldest amusement parks in Italy, housing over 130 attractions across an area of 750,000 square feet including roller coasters, a hall of mirrors, and a haunted house. Open even day, but often only in the afternoon and evenings, it’s free to enter but you will need to pay for each ride you want to go on.
If you want to start getting your children excited ahead of your trip, then I would thoroughly recommend the Horrible Histories set of books. www.horrible-histories.co.uk Written and illustrated by Terry Deary and Martin Brown, they are hugely popular amongst children. Invest in a copy of ‘Ruthless Romans’ for them to read on the plane and they’ll definitely be excited to see all that Rome has to offer on arrival!
For those whose children are particularly partial to the gory and gruesome revelations of the Horrible Histories, you might want to head to the cemetery at Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. It’s not for the faint hearted though as it houses a permanent exhibition of sculptures made entirely from bones from the bodies of nearly 4,000 Cappuchin friars who were buried here.
At certain times of year, there are also additional activities in the city that you should make a point of visiting. The Christmas Market in the Piazza Navona each year is bound to be a hit with it’s stalls filled with sweets and chocolate and traditional carousel. Every year at Christmas time, an ice rink is also set up in the middle of Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica and continues through January. Mirroring the ice rinks set up in December in many towns in the UK, it’s a great way to get in the festive spirit.
For those whose children who prefer not to walk around the city, how about taking a tour on one of the ‘hop on, hop off’ double decker buses. Choose between a 24 or 48 hour ticket, get on and off at 17 stops throughout central Rome and enjoy a personalized audio commentary and onboard tour escort. There is also the option to add a 24 hour hop-on hop-off Rome cruise.
Of course, what visit to Italy would be complete without a thorough sampling of the gelato on offer! A frequent icecream stop will keep any child going through the day!