Visiting Rome With Kids

Rome is not a particularly child-oriented place to visit, having little in the way of theme parks as many large European centres do. On the plus side, Italians love children, and you'll often find them stopping to admire yours.

Before embarking on a trip, consider the age of the younger members of the family. Are you going to be able to blend enough child-level attractions with the sights that you want to see? Will the treks around the historic sites be too much for those under the age of eight?

For older children, adolescents, and even teens, there is usually something to be found that will interest them, starting with the innumerable gelato stands located around the city!

Pine trees, Villa BorgheseThe Villa Borghese is sometimes referred to as the beating green heart of Rome, with its combination of new and old parks.

The total park surface is 80 hectares, and there are 35 fountains (good for splashing), 15 minor buildings, 14 small edifices, ten monuments and many prestigious sculptures, remnants from the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

Turn the kids loose to play after you've seen the sights.

Gianicolo Park, Janniculum Hill, not only offers a sweeping panoramic view of Rome, it is also one of the last places where one can find the "true" puppeteers of Italy. Most shows are in Italian, but the costumes and gestures are universal, and children seem to have no trouble appreciating the action.

Kids always like the quirky and different, so you might drop by the popular Testaccio district to see the only pyramid in Rome.

The 90' high structure was built in 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, after the advent of Cleopatra created a vogue for things Egyptian. The pyramid later ended up as a portion of the city wall.

Just beyond the pyramid is the non-Catholic cemetery, which was forbidden to display symbols of Christianity even on their tombstones. Here lay such luminaries as Keats and Shelley.

And as long as you're in the area, you can wow the younger set with a trip to St. Ignazio Church, for a little slight of the architectural hand.

The church has a beautiful dome. Fix your eyes on it and keep them there as you approach, then walk into and under... a flat roof.

The illusion is in the painting, because when it was built, the monastery next door didn't want a big dome blocking their sunlight.

Luna Park

Via delle Tre Fontane. This is the only entertainment theme park where you can still find such things as fairground rides, a roller-coaster, haunted house, games, and other traditional amusements. Treat the little ones to a day of their own kind of fun.

Explora: The Children's Museum of Rome

Via Flaminia 82. This is a wonderful, non-profit educational and entertainment venue for children. Maybe the single best attraction in Rome. Children are free to touch, experiment, and discover the wonders of communication, technology, the environment, and much more.

Cappuccin Crypt, Church of Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione

An absolute must if you brought the little guys and ghouls along. Bones have long been considered holy relics and revered as having mystical or medicinal powers.

The bones of Monks were particularly venerated, and in this crypt, the remains of literally hundreds of Cappuccins, can be seen in interesting patterns along the walls. Your kids will love the postcards to be bought here.