Help make our trip to Europe amazing, Rome edition
May 7, 2016 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Our family will be spending a few days in Rome in July. We're traveling with kids, so our plan is for a mostly low-key trip filled with lazily exploring the city, relaxing in parks, and eating gelato. But we're also looking for other unique or special experiences we could do as a family that would really make our trip special.

We would love to hear any ideas that might involve:

- Meeting and interacting with locals
- Visiting special places in the city/area that might not show up in guide books
- Anything food or wine related that shouldn't be missed
posted by quantum to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Villa Doria Pamphili is wonderful in the summertime, and it crowns the Trastevere area which is a great place to interact with people with less intensity. (As an example, an American friend of mine ate at what she thought was a lovely open air restaurant which actually turned out to be a family having a party-- they had no problem including her.) You can walk back down to central Rome or the Vatican City and both are very pleasant walks.
posted by BibiRose at 8:24 AM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Okay, it's not on your radar, but I HAVE to suggest a day trip to Pompeii. It's absolutely amazing. I consider myself well-read and educated, but I was not prepared for the scope of Pompeii. It's a huge city, not just a small site with a couple of ruins, but an entire city, with houses, businesses, and it's restored so that you can actually imagine what life what like back then. The drive along the Amalfi coast is gorgeous but Pompeii is compelling.

We spent about 6 hours there, and frankly, I need to go again, it just wasn't enough. There are gyms, with murals inside of them, homes with mosaics, it's breathtaking and sobering and...honestly I could bore you to death on the subject.

This BBC special gives you a taste of what it was like, and it will set the stage for what your family will see.

It's kind of trite, but really, history comes alive!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:32 AM on May 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

The Largo Argentina cat sanctuary is where Julius Caesar was killed and is very beautiful and is also downtown and draped in cats. Before, go see the Pantheon; Afterwards, go to the nearby Jewish Ghetto and eat fried artichokes.

If you like ruins and don't want to go as far as Pompeii there is a beautiful site of an ancient city down at Ostia Antica, which would be a great lazy outdoor activity just a suburban train ride out of town.
posted by hungrytiger at 9:06 AM on May 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

If your kids are on the younger side, there's Explora, the kids' museum. You buy/reserve tickets in advance for a specific entry time, and is for a 1 hr 45 minute visit.

You can also call for MeFi meetup :D My personal participation depends on my munchkins and work schedules, so I always leave to meetup details to the majority vote.
posted by romakimmy at 10:03 AM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Pompeii is utterly amazing and was very much worth it to us as a day trip in our family trip to Rome. That said, it's also a long bus ride to Naples from Rome (like 3 hours one way, something like that) so I think it's one of those things where you'd have to figure out whether your kids could hack the drive.

My family loves to bike, so we booked a bike tour of the city. The drivers in Rome are every bit as terrifying as you have heard, so this may not be for the faint of heart, but we had an excellent time on our bike tour--even though it happened to rain pretty hard throughout.
posted by Sublimity at 12:36 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you are up for a (very short) jaunt out of town, Ostia Antica makes for a great half day trip, and is a very easy half hour train ride. Ostia Antica is the ancient port city of Rome and the ruins there are extensive and in wonderful condition. It is a great place to just wander around, and, at least when we went, it was nice and quiet unlike some of the sites in Rome proper which were a bit hectic.
posted by pie_seven at 2:33 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

+1 to the Largo Argentina cat sanctuary. Bring a laser pointer after dark for some real fun.
posted by fancyoats at 6:16 PM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Here's the website for the cat sanctuary. (Coincidentally, a friend of mine who just got back from Rome, and who knows I would love to go there some day and also that I love cats, sent me the link just an hour ago.)
posted by merejane at 7:22 PM on May 7, 2016

We just took our bundle of kids. Other than testing all the pizza, suppli, and gelato, we'd recommend Gianicolo hill. Park for free, with an amazing view. Husband says in the summer there is a Punch and Judy puppet show Roman-style, which he loved as a kid. Also, carnival-type rides.

Among other stuff, the kids also loved climbing to the top of St. Peter's (I gave it a pass). Climbing on the fence around the Palatine Hill was great fun and gave us lots of fantastic pictures.

Best gelato - I'm biased, but it really was the best - is Neve di Latte, Via Luigi Poletti, 6. Rougher part of town, but truly worth it.

Husband is Roman, but we were tired and off our game. Car was broken into and everything stolen. Do be aware. Because of that, we can also tell you about the best outlet shopping outside Rome, if you're interested. The restaurant in the outlet was astonishing - in a good way.
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 10:37 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

We have a lot of kids, relatively speaking, so attracted a lot of attention. Can also recommend some great restaurants that adored our children and gave us fantastic service because of them. I'll try to dig around for names, but do PM if you'd like.
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 10:40 PM on May 7, 2016

Rosetta, near the Pantheon. Best Meal Ever.

The Appian Way Park is well worth a trip outside the city center, and if you get out to the section with aqueducts, it honestly seemed like a regular neighborhood park, with high school sports teams out doing laps and people bumming around with friends or walking their dogs, it just happened to be the middle of these amazing ruins.
posted by jameaterblues at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

- Get bikes and ride all along the Tiber banks; and on another day, all along the via Appia Antica. (In fact, there's a bike-path all the way to Ostia...!)
- During the summer there are science-y initiatives for kids at the Museo di Zoologia, just north of the Bioparco (= zoo). Speaking of which: don't miss its reptilarium and the absurdly large open-air birdhouse.
- Not sure the lake in the Villa Borghese park will have been restored by then - but if it is, go rowing among its turtles.
- Take a day out of town in the middle of the forest and have them climb&clamber in the tree-tops (and practice their bowmanship) at the surprisingly well-organized Treja Adventure Park; you'll be among many excited locals, and the surroundings are a nature reserve that makes for calming walks after the adrenaline-filled climbing.
- Go to some catacombs.
- Take them to Technotown, in Villa Torlonia, and then have a pizza in the park (at La Limonaia)
- Best icecream is at Gelateria del Teatro (sorry heigh-ho :-)
- Chill down in the shade at the very central Giardino Botanico (or somewhere in the amazing city parks Villa Doria Pamphilj or Villa Ada.)
- Go to market, either Campo de' Fiori (more touristic) or, more local-y, at the weekend just off from the Circo Massimo (via S. Teodoro)
- see if Cinecittà has any of the special screenings that they now do planned for your dates. (They recently built a whole set in which they screened The Hateful Eight in actual 70mm.)
- Seconding the "great excuse for a meet-up"
posted by progosk at 3:45 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

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