Ok, my last vacation in Rome bombed. I took the little one with me on vacation, and he was definitely unimpressed with Rome.
“There are too many people. Too many dead people and too many old houses.”
Yep. He’s got a mind to him, even at age 3!
Oh well, at least he got to meet his cousin and his aunts, which was the true purpose of the visit.
But if you are already with Rome with kids, there are several places that you could go to entertain the little ones in between doing adult things like visiting museums. Rome isn’t a very kid-friendly place, but Italians are very kid friendly. And if you’re the uptight kind of parent who hates it when strangers pat your kid’s head or give her candy, then steer clear of Italy.
Toddler friendly playgrounds are located in:
Parco di Castel Sant’ Angelo.
Located in a park next to the famous Castel di Sant’ Angelo, also known as Hadrian’s tomb, I made the mistake of entering the park when I actually wanted to go into the Castle. Signs tend to be very confusing in Rome. I stumbled upon this spanking new playground. Toddler-friendly swings (swings that look like little cages) seals the deal for me.
Villa Borghese has a lot to offer children. For three euros, you could ride a choo-choo train shaped sightseeing truck that stops right next to the children’s area. It is located near-ish the Metro A line Spagna stop exit. The children’s area has a decent toddler-friendly playground (the aforementioned swings and a small slide for the little ones, and bigger slides for the bigger kids). It also has a kid cinema, showing kid-friendly movies in Italian, a bump-car ride, and a zoo. In the summer there is a lake where people can go boating.
The train leaves every 10 minutes in the summer, and every 20 minutes in winter.
Parco delli Acquedotti
Located in the more modern suburbs of Rome, Parco delli Acquedotti is a part of the Via Appia park, in the shadows of the ruins of Roman Empire-era aqueducts. Very impressive, with wide open spaces, it feels very removed from the hustle and bustle of modern Rome. There is a toddler-friendly open to the public free public playground, and a fairground-type paid playground in the area, full of noisy coin-operated rides, inflatable slides, trampolines, and a ball pool (3 euros for 20 minutes).
There were also ponies! We also paid a euro fifty each for a 10 minute horse-drawn carriage ride in a jogging oval next to the aqueduct. To get there, take the Metro A line to Giulio Agricola. Leave the exit going to Giulio Agricola street, and walk five blocks to Via Lemonia. Turn left. It should be on the right side of the street, about 100 meters from the intersection of Via Lemonia and Giulio Agricola.
Explora Il Museo del Bambini di Roma
This is a privately owned and operated museum, with corporate sponsors. Like many of its ilk worldwide, it tries to get kids to understand the practical applications of science and explain how the world works. There is a water playground, a pretend grocery store, a pretend bank, a “vegetable garden,” among others. There is something for kids of all ages, as soon as they know how to move around. All the facilities are labeled in English and Italian. They also offer art workshops for children, at added cost. There is also a restaurant that has a kiddie menu, and pasta dishes that cost around 6.50 each.
Opening times are normally from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6:45 pm. In August they open at 12 pm. Due to overcrowding, children are only allowed to stay for an hour and 45 minutes at a time, so entrance are in shifts. Infants up to 12 months old pay three euros, while children starting from age 1 and adults pay full price, seven euros. One way to get around it is to go an hour before closing time, when the entrance is reduced to 5 euros. On Thursday afternoons, the museum is not so crowded, and the entrance is reduced to 6 euros.
There is also an outdoor playground more suitable for children aged 6 and up, and a mini-playhouse for the toddlers right in front of the building is also free.
To get there, go to Flaminio at the Metro Line A, and follow the exit going to the tram. You can take the tram number 2 going to Mancini and go one stop, to the Maritime Office, or just walk about 250 meters from the start of the tram line to the Museum.
So there you have it! When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Unlike in Germany, children there are allowed to participate in adult social functions, so it is common to see children with their parents in the streets, and in restaurants, until 11 o’clock at night. Have fun!