Rome is rarely cited as a place to take young children yet there is much to Italy's capital that captivates kids. Tour the Coliseum, Trajan's Market and Roman Forum. Visit the Vatican. Discover Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori and the Pantheon. Take the kids on a macabre adventure and explore the catacombs. In Rome, history is made real! That said, the secret to a successful Roman holiday is careful planning. Alternate history and culture with adventure and movement and break your days into child-sized slices. Do your research in advance and feed the kids with interesting tidbits at each attraction. Buy a children's guidebook and let the kids play tour leader. Enroll them in a children's program at one or more Rome museum and view art while the tykes play and discover. The Eternal City is more child-friendly than you might think and a trip to Rome is a great way to learn.
Low cost airlines have made getting to Rome both easy and cheap for many Europeans. No frills airlines, such as Ryanair, easyJet, transavia and Germanwings, connect Rome to cities throughout Europe. Most, but not all, arrive/depart Rome's Ciampino Airport. Families flying from the other side of the world or on a major European carrier will arrive/depart Fiumicino Airport (also called Leonardo da Vinci). Trenitalia offers a direct service from Fiumicino to Termini, the main train terminal in Rome, as well as a commuter service, which stops at smaller city stations including Ostiense, Trastevere and Tiburtina. Ciampino may not be accessible by train but taxis are on hand and a bus service runs at all hours of the day. The trip from Ciampino Airport to the center of Rome is roughly 30 minutes, except in rush hour (7:30-10:00 and 17:00-20:30) when it is easily 60. A taxi from Fiumicino is rarely under one hour and can take more than 90 minutes.
The City of Seven Hills is best explored by foot, metro, bus and tram. Public transport is convenient, cheap and easy to use. Moreover, the metro, bus and tram are fully integrated meaning you only need one ticket to ride round the city. Hop-on hop-off open air tour buses are a big hit with children and are ideal for families hesitant to plot a course on public transportation. Taxis are expensive and can only be hailed at designated ranks or booked by phone. Cycling Rome may be all the rage but might provide more adventure than children desire. Not only is driving in Rome a nightmare, it's near impossible to find parking. Family Travel Tips: Tourist maps are available for free at the city's many tourist information kiosks. A public transport map can be purchased at newsstands. Children aged 10 and under ride free on the metro, bus and tram when traveling with an adult. Read more about getting round Rome.
The climate in Rome is Mediterranean. Winters are mild and wet. Spring and autumn are warm and generally sunny. Summers are hot and humid, oftentimes unbearably so. The average daytime high is 30°C (86°F) from June to August and 12°C (54°F) December through February. While showers are possible year around, Rome receives most of its rainfall from November to April. Pack an umbrella and plan to dress in layers when traveling in winter. The peak season - Easter through June and September and October - is both crowded and expensive but there are numerous happenings, many of which are free, to compensate for the long queues.
Petty theft - picket pocketing and purse snatching - is a real problem in Rome. Exercise particular caution on trains, buses and metro and around Termini train station. Never leave your things unattended. Don't carry valuables or extra cash. Wear purses and cameras over your head so that the strap crosses your body. Don't sling handbags or daypacks over the back of the chair at cafés, restaurants and bars but rather wedge them between your feet and slip a strap under the leg of a table or chair.
You need not traverse the city to eat a great meal. There are a plethora of good restaurants in every Roman quartieri (neighborhood). And while website reviews might lead you to a few good picks, the concierge at your hotel, host of your bed and breakfast, or owner of your rental apartment may prove to be your best resource. If you are looking for a local experience rather than tourist food be sure to state your preference. Family Travel Tip: Most restaurants in Italy don't have a children's menu but are always willing to prepare simple pasta dishes. Don't be afraid to ask, they do it daily for Italian children.
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