Rome is an ideal destination for a family vacation. With so many things to do and places to see, there is sure to be something for everyone. Plus, there is amazing food, good weather, unbeatable history and it is home to both the Vatican and ‘La dolce Vita’. To no surprise, Rome is consistently ranked in the Top 5 destinations in Europe.
Here are my top 5 tips for a family visiting Rome for the first time:
Tourists are spoilt for choice when it comes to monuments in Rome. There is the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Circus Maximus, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican and so many more. However, it is good to plan exactly where you want to visit in advance especially if you are traveling with kids. After all, standing in a long line under the hot Italian sun is probably not how you want to spend your vacation! There are plenty of tours and guides around the city for both adults and kids. For example, if you want to visit the Vatican, (and really, who wouldn’t when they come to Rome?), you can even do a kids’ tour where the little ones are provided with an illustrated map and treasure hunt. Hint: be sure to book your tickets in advance so you can skip the line at the Vatican.
Let’s face it, for most of us visiting Italy for the first time there is probably one thing on our mind: food! Typical Roman dishes are a must try.
Here are a few local dishes to keep an eye out for:
- Spaghetti alla Carbonara with egg, salt and pecorino cheese
- Amatriciana: guanciale (pigs cheek), tomato, pecorino and olive oil most typically served over buccatini or spaghetti
- Roman-style pizza has a thin crust. If you prefer a fluffy crust, go for a Napoleon pizza.
- Supplì: made of rice with a filling of your choice (typical option is tomato and mozzarella) served with breadcrumbs and then fried in hot oil.
- Carciofi alla Giudia: Jewish-style artichoke that is fried in hot oil.
- Saltimbocca alla Romano: veal and sage wrapped in prosciutto and cooked in butter and white wine.
- Maritozzo with cream for dessert
In case you have a picky child when it comes to food, don’t worry. Rome has a lot of simple options such as pizza (with or without tomato), pasta (‘cacio e pepe’ is a typical dish with only pecorino and black pepper) and a lot of delicious cakes and gelato.
After lots of walking, your family can relax in one of Rome’s beautiful parks where you are instantly transported out of the hustle and bustle of the city. There is the picturesque Villa Borghese that you can easily reach from Piazza del Popolo by climbing the steps that lead up to the terrace. From there, you can walk back through the garden and beautiful trees, get a coffee, sit on a bench to relax and even catch sunset on the terrace. You can also rent bikes, electric scooters or rowboats and visit the Bioparco Zoo or Galleria Borghese. If you are in the Trastevere area, Villa Sciarra is a great place to wind down surrounded by greenery, statues and fountains.
Whether you’re looking for your very own piece of designer Italian fashion (or just want to window shop), or prefer looking around a local market for something special, Rome has it all.
When it comes to designer fashion, Fendi, Valentino, Bulgari etc… all have their flagship stores in Rome and you can walk along the streets just off the Spanish Steps and find many other designer stores including Prada, Armani and Ferragamo. For more mainstream shopping, you can wander down Via del Corso that goes from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia or Via Cola di Rienzo in the Prati neighborhood for similar shops but fewer tourists. If you enjoy boutique shops, the Monti neighborhood is a great area to check out. For a flea market experience, the popular Trastevere neighborhood hosts Porta Portese on Sundays from 7am-1pm.
There is so much to do in Rome to the point where if you are staying for a short vacation, there are bound to be things you miss. Instead of stressing over what do while you’re there, plan ahead! This way, you can take on the relaxed attitude of Italy and go with the flow. In Rome, every street has something special and it is impossible to be bored.
Remember that when in Rome, do as the Romans do! There is a beauty that lies around every corner in the Eternal City.