Last month we went on holiday to Italy and I think it is safe to say whilst there I discovered my new favourite city. Rome is the capital of Italy (also now my new favourite country) and it is an amazing place to visit. I really felt like everywhere I looked there was a famous landmark to admire, a piece of history to get lost in or a building that looked almost as old as time itself. I am in love with Rome, I already want to go back and explore some more and delve even further into the ancient city’s history. We spent 10 days in Umbria in Italy and for our last day we travelled over 2 hours to Rome, there was no way we could go to Italy and not explore it’s famous capital – the home of the actual Romans none the less. Now, 24 hours is not a very long time at all, especially when about 10 of those was spent sleeping/getting up in the hotel, but we managed to cram quite a lot in to our day trip to Rome and that was with a 3 year old and a baby in tow. So, if you ever find yourself with 24 hours to spare whilst on a family holiday in Italy, here are 11 things to see and do when in Rome (sorry, couldn’t resist)
Things to see and do on a family trip to Rome
- Babywear – If you are taking a small human to Rome who can not walk make your life easier and stick them in a wrap or a carrier. I am not just saying this because I love babywearing, the streets can get quite busy as can all the famous landmarks, some places have lots of steps and in parts the streets are very narrow. While it is possible to manoeuvre a buggy around, it is so much easier to just babywear.
- Eat gelato – Ok, so I am a bit weird and for the first 24 years of my life I hated ice cream but when I was pregnant with Alex I suddenly realised how amazing ice cream actually is. Over the past year I have sampled many different ice creams (I have some catching up to do after all) but nothing has even come close to the chocolate chip gelato I had in Rome, it was AMAZING. I can totally see why Italy is famous for it’s gelato, make sure you try some.
- Dress your child up as a Roman – Ok, so it did feel a bit like bad parenting buying Leo a fancy dress outfit featuring a sword that he could (and did) use to pretend to stab people with BUT it did make wandering around the city a bit more exciting for him and helped to spark his imagination about what being a Roman might have been like. Also, he got lots of smiles off the locals and whilst they were speaking Italian I can only assume from the kind smiles on their faces that they thought my Roman, sword wielding toddler looked cute.
- Be cautious when crossing the road – You know how a zebra crossing in the UK means the pedestrian gets right of way? Well, in Italy that law either doesn’t exist or drivers are just happy to break the rules. Seriously, if you are in Rome with kids please please please be extra careful when crossing the road, don’t just assume because you’re half way across a crossing that the cars will stop and watch out for those crazy moped drivers. We found it much safer to find traffic lighted crossings, the drivers seemed to understand what a red light is for at least.
- Visit the Colosseum – Wow. I don’t really know what else to say about the oldest amphitheatre in the world, it really was a breath taking sight. If you are in Rome you have to go and see it, don’t go in if the kids are being too much but at least go and have a look, even from the outside it is impressive. We braved the massive queue and had a look around inside, Leo enjoyed running about and Oli and I tried to take in as much as possible. If you only have baby or older children it might be worth doing a guided or audio tour, I would have but Leo was too busy charging about for us to be able to concentrate on any kind of structured tour.
- Prepare for people to try and sell you things – Something I was not quite prepared for was the sheer about of people who would be trying to sell us things. At the Colosseum there were lots of people trying to sell tickets and it was difficult to tell who was legitimate and who was not. Out and about on the streets there were men trying to sell selfie sticks, scarfs, drawings and loads more souvenir type things. I obviously am not against people trying to do their job at all but what Oli and I found quite unnerving is how some of these salespeople would follow you around and even when we politely said no thank you they wouldn’t leave us alone. Something that I found quite upsetting was a man gave Leo a balloon without us saying we wanted it and then demanded money off us. When we said we weren’t going to pay as we hadn’t agreed to buy the balloon in the first place he took it away from a very confused Leo who then got upset. Not cool. While these salespeople didn’t ruin our trip to Rome it did feel quite overwhelming at times.
- Visit the Trevi Fountain – Yes, this famous site was absolutely jam packed full of tourists but it was definitely worth a visit. Leo really enjoyed throwing countless pennies in the fountain and my brother in law and I spent lots of time googling the history of the Trevi Fountain and admiring the craftsmanship that must have gone in to creating such an outstanding piece of architecture. We visited the fountain in the early evening, apparently if you visit later on at night is looks even more impressive as it is all lit up.
- Wear comfy shoes – We were only in Rome for one day and by the end of it my feet were killing me! I wore my faithful Converse trainers, I dread to think how much pain I would have been in if I had been wearing flip flops or sandals. Compared to some of the other cities we visited in Italy, the streets in Rome weren’t too uneven but they definitely weren’t as smooth and easy to walk on as our tarmac pavements in the UK. If you want to see as much as possible then it goes without saying that you are going to be doing lots of walking so get your comfy shoes on and make sure your little one has comfy ones on too (saying that, Leo did have good shoes on and he still made us carry him half way across Rome!).
- Go on a horse and cart tour of the city – There were lots of open bus tours running to help tourists see as much of Rome as possible and while this probably would have been the most sensible thing for us to do, Leo decided he wanted to go on a horse and cart ride. I am not going to lie, the horse and cart tour was pricey but it was worth every penny. We had a very old and very bad at Engligh man driving our cart but it didn’t matter one bit, it made our adventure around Rome feel more authentic if anything. We saw so many sights from our carriage, it was a great way to see lots without having to do anymore walking – a great way to save time if you only have a day to spend in Rome. Be warned – the people who drive the horse and carts are just as fearless
and terrifyingas the people driving the cars.
- Eat authentic Italian food – This surely goes without saying doesn’t it? You’re in Italy, eat pasta and pizza to your hearts content. I love pizza at the best of times but real Italian pizza? Well, that’s just something else.
- Go for a walk in the evening – If you have only got 24 hours in Rome you don’t want to waste too many of those in bed. No one batted an eyelid at us for having a baby and a 3 year old out and about with us past 8pm. Although Rome was busy and full of life during the day, the city seemed to have a real buzz about it in the evening too. We unintentionally took a long stroll through the city at the end of the day and both Oli and I commented on how much we liked the atmosphere in the city after dark.
There you have it, 11 things to see and do if you find yourself with a day to kill in Rome. We all had a fantastic day and will without a doubt be returning for a longer visit to this amazing city as soon as possible, there is so much left for us to see!
Oh, I forgot one more thing – you must say ‘when in Rome’ after every single thing you do just because, you know, when in Rome and all that.
Have you ever been to Rome, what did you think of the city? Got any recommendations of places for us to visit next time we go? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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