Guided walks for kids and young adults

In the city of Rome, almost every museum, archaeological site, art gallery and exhibition prides on internal educational services with guided visits and workshops designed for groups and schools. However, if you’re looking for a special guide who knows how to appeal to children with the correct words and timetables, someone able to suggest places and itineraries that also offer kids games and curiosities, the following are the most qualified associations operating in Rome:

Image © Roma Every Day

Rome Private Guides
Licensed guides with vast experience and in-depth knowledge of Italian history and culture. They are experts in designing tours specifically for children, teens and their families. Of particular interest are the Treasure Hunts, the Rome Underground Tour, Colosseum and Ancient Rome Tours, the one by golf cart and Vatican museum visits geared for the little ones, with iPads with 3D apps and overlay books.
Tel. +39 334 8077626 – www.romeprivateguides.com

Casa Mia Italy Food & Wine
Co-founded by and guided by many years’ experience working with kids, the Rome city walks by the Casa Mia team draw on sensory approach and on-site learning, thus crafting amazing experiences for both parents and children.
Tel. from abroad: +1 718 510 0358 (this is a U.S. number that rings in Italy)
Tel. within Italy: +39 320 720 4222 – www.italyfoodandwinetours.com/rome

Mirabilia Urbis
Comprehensive dual language guided visits with special programs designed for families and children.
Tel +39 06 45433723 – www.mirabiliaurbis.it

Mage
Art historians and archeologists introduce kids to art, architecture and history through a fun on-sight weekend teaching visits. Italian language only.
Tel./fax +39 06 68581545 – Cell. 348 3185335 – www.arteperbambini.com

Il Treno a Vapore
Child-specialized service offering guided visits of the city, summer camp, teaching camp, field trips, party planning, private lessons, baby sitter services. Italian language only.
Tel/Fax +39 06 23248687 – www.trenoavapore.it

La Serliana
Specialized in-depth museum and sightseeing visits for children and adults. Italian language only.
Tel. +39 06 452215171 – www.laserliana.it

Best Museums to Visit With Kids in Rome

Asking a child to visit a museum can be a daunting task. Historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural exhibits are to a child’s unaccustomed eyes often obscure and mysterious places, filled with boredom and unreachable artifacts, too much information, and incomprehensible terminology.
Why not try to attract our children’s attention with a more playful and less academic approach? Few Roman museums provide didactic or multimedia areas that speak directly to younger visitors; but it’s also true that Rome offers a rich and articulate choice of fun themed and child-enticing museums. It is our job, the parents, to alternate the more scholarly ones, to the simply playful and educating for a more thorough and enjoyable cultural experience of the city. Here are a few favorites.

Zoology Museum | Museo Civico di Zoologia (Parioli)
Via Ulisse Aldrovandi 18 | Tel. +39 06 6710 9270 | http://www.museodizoologia.it | Opening hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. | Closed Mon. | Entrance fee: €6,00, free admission for kids under 18 and over 65!
Rome’s natural history and animal kingdom museum. Located next door to the Rome Conservation Zoo (Bioparco) the museum can be accessed by either the main Museum entrance or through the Zoo. There are five million specimens in total (molluscs, insects, birds, mammals and fossils). The displays are newly rearranged following modern criteria, with over 3200 square feet of multi-sensorial and interactive exhibitions and 3D reconstructions. Kids love to compare the chimpanzee, orangutan and human skeletons, as well as marvel before the giant elephant one. The lifesize giraffe is always a hit. A biodiversity display includes sections on the significance of reproduction in the animal world; adaptations in borderline environments and ecosystems.

Mineralogy Museum
(Via Veneto) CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS. Stay tuned for reopening news here.
Largo Santa Susanna 13 | Tel. +39 06 481 9747
The origin of this Museum is connected with the foundation of the Italian Geological Committee (1869) that in 1873 moved to Rome from Florence. The items on display include fossils, rocks and minerals. The palaeontological section includes organisms belonging to the flora and the fauna kingdoms from the Palaeozoic to the Neolithic age. Another very interesting area is the lithological section, which includes marbles and materials used for decorations and constructions.

Chocolate Museum | SAID Società Azionaria Industria Dolciaria (San Lorenzo)
Via Tiburtina, 135 | Tel. +39 06 446 8210 | www.said.it | Free admission
This ancient chocolate manufacturer founded by Aldo De Mauro in 1923 was severely damaged during the July 1943 bombings of the San Lorenzo housing development. It was recently brought back to life to house a small museum dedicated to the princess of sweet delights. Kids can enjoy the ancient chocolate machinery, the steel tabletop used to cool the molten caramel, the heating tunnel used for the molds; and also the plant’s library, a to-die-for confectioner’s store, the drawing-room where visitors can read, attend classes, and taste a cup of Brazilian chocolate with organic whipped cream, or some delicious pizza bianca with dark chocolate and excellent chocolate pralines made with soft ricotta filling in the SAID restaurant. For the parents, a nip of the house rare cacao liqueur is a must…

Geology Museum (San Lorenzo-University area)
Piazzale Aldo Moro 5 – First Floor Earth Sciences Department | Tel. +39 06 4991 4825
Founded by the Roman doctor and scientist Giuseppe Ponzi (1805 – 1885), this University Museum is famous for the “T. Belli” collection of ancient marbles, formed by 550 marble-chip floor tiles, discovered during archeological excavations. Another important collection is the “Dodwell” one, constituting about 1000 marble chip floor tiles, coming from various localities in Europe.

Centrale Montemartini | Classical art in a converted electric plant (Garbatella)
Via Ostiense 106 | Tel. +30 06 0608 | Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9.00 am-7.00 pm- Christmas and New Year’s Day 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (the ticket office closes 30 minutes earlier) | Closed Mon. | www.centralemontemartini.org
The history if the new exhibition space for the Rome Musei Capitolini in the former Giovanni Montemartini Thermoelectric Plant, is an extraordinary example of industrial archaeology converted into a museum. When hundreds of sculptures were transferred during the remodeling works carried out across much of the Roman complex, a temporary exhibition was created in 1997 in the newly restored rooms of the first public electricity plant in Rome. Despite its temporary onset, it was decided to turn the building into a permanent expo location. Free admission for kids under 12 on Sundays. Drawing and painting materials are available for reproducing the sculptures on display, and guided tours for children are furthermore available. Visit the website for tour info, entrance fees and discounts.

Dario Argento Horror Movie Museum (Prati)
Via dei Gracchi, 260 | Tel. +39 06 321 1395 | Opening hours: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3.30-8 p.m. | Closed Sun.
Scene reconstruction and special effects from famous films by Italian horror director icon Dario Argento. More suited for older kids, as some artifacts can get quite gory.

National Pasta Museum
| Museo Nazionale delle Paste Alimentari (Trevi Fountain area)
Piazza Scanderbeg, 117 | Tel. +39 06 699 1119 | www.museodellapasta.it
Opening hours: 9.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. | Entrance fee €7.75
Utensils and objects documenting the history of pasta, from the Etruscan era to the present day.

Museum of Musical Instruments | Museo Strumentale dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Vatican area)
Via della Conciliazione, 4 | Tel. +39 06 328 171 | Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Closed Wed. | Free admission
The collection includes 255 musical instruments, including a 1690 noteworthy Stradivari violin.

Museum at the Owl House | Museo della Casina delle Civette (Nomentana area)
Villa Torlonia on Via Nomentana, 70 | Tel. +39 06 4425 0072
Opening hours: winter 9 a.m. -5 p.m. in summer 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. | Closed on Monday | Entrance fee: €2.58
A fanciful building on the grounds of the stunning Villa Torlonia park, graced with several splendid Art-Nouveau stained glass windows produced between 1908 and 1930.

Fire Brigade Museum (Testaccio)
Via Galvani, 2 | Opening hours: 9.30 – 12.30 p.m. and 4.30 – 7.30 p.m. | Closed Mon. a.m. | Free admission
The museum shows the history of Rome’s fire-fighting service, starting from the age of Emperor Augustus to the present day. Kids will love seeing the many pictures on display as well as the many videos, or participating in experiments with special optical and sound effects.

Antique Chariots and Stagecoaches | Carrozze d’Epoca (Ardeatina/Cecchignola area)
Via Andrea Millevoi, 693 | Tel. +39 06 5195 8112 – 06 507 3500 | www.lecarrozzedepoca.it | Opening hours: Tue-Fri 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3.30-6.30 p.m. Sat and Sun. 9.30 a.m. – 1.30 p.m. and 3.30-7 p.m. | Entrance fee: €7,00 (children between 6-12 €5,00) Free admission for kids under 6
In a 10,000 square-foot space, the Carrozze d’Epoca permanent display of ancient vehicles features 160 models of antique carriages, complete with saddles, harnesses, paintings related to the subject, valuable porcelain, suits of armour, saddlecloths, period weapons, antique equipment and toys, accessories and peculiarities. Kids can also enjoy the majestic official carriages used by governors, magistrates, princes, popes and knights of Malta, the chariots featured in the films Ben Hur and Gladiator, several antique stagecoaches, the Egyptian chariot of Aida, a horse-drawn omnibus which carried 15 passengers for the price of 5 pennies, coupés, convertibles, a caravan of the Far West, work carts, two-wheeled Sicilian carts, firemen and of farmers’ wagons, oriental carriages, and much more.

Prehistoric Museum | Museo Pigorini (EUR)
Piazza Marconi, 14 | Tel. +39 06 549 521 | Opening hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. – Sun. and holidays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Free admission for the disabled and EU citizens under 18 and over 60 | Entrance fee: €3,00-€6,00 | Closed Mon. | www.pigorini.arti.beniculturali.it
The first floor exhibits an ethnographic section, divided by continent. But kids love the second floor, where the prehistoric and protohistoric items are displayed. These sections are constantly brought up to date thanks to findings coming from all over Italy. The paleontology and Africa sections are equipped with a CD guide for the visually impaired.

Tecnolandia (EUR)
Via della Pittura | Tel. +39 06 591 4484 | Opening hours: Mon. to Fri. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sat, Sun & holidays 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. | Free admission for kids under 6
Not a real museum per se, rather a hands-on area where the laws of physics can be tested with the help of stimulating experiments: squared soap bubbles, boats navigating uphill and all sorts of other curious science oddities.

Museum of Roman Civilization | Museo della Civiltà Romana (EUR)
Piazza G. Agnelli | Opening hours: Tue-Sat 9 a.m. to 6.45 p.m. and Sun 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. | Closed Mon.
The museum retraces the history of Rome and its civilization all over the world. The approximately 4,000 items on view in the museum include plaster casts of statues, busts, bas-reliefs and inscriptions as well as reproductions of objects of everyday use. The magnificent model of Imperial Rome in 1:250 scale is not to be missed. In this hands-on museum, kids here are free to touch the statues without parents getting fined for vandalism.

Out-of-town bonus trip:
Roman Vessel Museum | Museo delle Navi Romane di Nemi
Via Diana, 15, Nemi | Tel. +39 06 939 8040 | Opening hours: every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Closed New Year’s day, May 1st and Christmas.
The museum in the lovely town of Nemi (33 Km south of Rome View Map) houses two ancient ship hulls belonging to Emperor Caligula’s laker fleet, recovered between 1929 ans 1932 at the bottom of Lake Nemi. Each ship was 70 meters long and were used by the emperor as floating party venues, following the Greek custom of building “floating palaces.” What you and the kids can visit today are however smaller replicas of the original vessels. In May 1944 an arson attack destroyed the precious ships and the entire museum. In 1953 they were reconstructed in 1:5 scale; and in 2001 the museum was fully remodeled to display them.
During the first Sunday in June, the museum visit can be followed by a taste of the delightful local wild strawberries called fragoline di bosco, at the Sagra delle Fragoline, where the fresh fruit is showcased and sold all across town.

Sightseeing Rome for Kids: the fun stuff

Ciao, Kids!
Are you enjoying the city, with its majestic monuments, shiny cobblestones and great food? Are you having fun discovering ancient Rome?
But do you get to choose, and have your say in where to go and what to see?
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If you’re tired of grown-ups deciding your itinerary, bored of hearing them read dates and facts off guidebooks, maybe you should suggest visiting some places they might not be familiar with; and become the guide yourself for the day.

In addition to the remarkable artistic, historic and architectural wonders your parents will want to share with you–to bring more variety to your Rome experience–here are a few more sites you might like to tell them about.

Big Bambù in Testaccio ©EleonoraBaldwin

Big Bambù | Suspended Bamboo Forest
The iconic symbol for the flourishing Testaccio neighborhood is 33 meters high and is located within the stockyards of the city’s former slaughterhouse. The project designed by brothers Mike and Doug Stern required the efforts of 15 American and 10 Italian rock climbers, who built the elevated space in 2012, and which is integrated within the flexible bamboo framework. Big Bambù, with its double helix staircase and various labyrinth paths that lead the visitors up over two ‘living rooms’, allows 80 to 120 visitors at a time, who are free to wander and relax in the suspended rest areas, terraces and intricate paths. The thousands of bamboo rods are connected and interlocked with a traditional yarn bombing-like weaving method, which generates a wonderfully chaotic network of unpredictable intersections and outlooks.
Access to Big Bambú requires signing a waiver and adequate shoes (no heels, no sandals, and possibly with a non-slip sole). No admittance in case of rain. Open daily from 4 to 9pm.
MACRO Roma – Piazza O. Giustiniani 4 | Tel. +39 06 671070400 | Free admission

Planetario e Museo Astronomico di Roma | Rome Planetarium and Astronomical Museum
The Planetarium is a fascinating place. To get there, you need to travel south, away from the city center. You can do this by taking the subway Line B, and getting off at the Laurentina stop. You’ll find yourself in a perfectly modern and geometric part of the city, this is the Ancient Rome-inspired fascist era district called EUR. The Rome Planetarium observatory sits under a spectacular 46-foot dome and seats 100 people in comfortable reclining padded chairs. These recline so that when the show starts, you can relax and enjoy the projection of 4,500 stars on the dome’s inner screen. It takes five slide projectors to simultaneously beam the planet images, and twelve for the background constellations. Besides visiting the Astronomical Museum, the Planetarium organizes shows for groups and schools and combines visits to the neighboring Museo della Civiltà Romana. Shows last 20 minutes.
Planetarium – Piazza Giovanni Agnelli 10 | Tel. +39 06 0608 | Free admission for children under 6

Cripta della Chiesa dei Cappuccini | Skulls and bones galore
Older kids will love this place, but younger ones may get scared, so tell your parents about this visit before dragging the entire family there.
The Capuchin Crypt is a small space made up of several small chapels located beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on the Via Veneto, near Piazza Barberini. It is the final resting place for over 4,000 Capuchin friars, who died between the 1500s and the 1800s, as well as several Romans. Curiously, many of the bones are nailed to the walls in intricate patterns, many are piled high among many others, and some hang from the ceiling as functioning light fixtures. The rooms in the crypt feature unique displays of human bones. The thousands of human skulls and bones are arranged in fact in many different and impressive decorating shapes reproducing everyday objects and furnishings, which make this a must on your Rome visit. The crypt is structured in a line of six adjoining room; this makes it easy to visit without running the risk of getting lost. Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 12 noon – 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Closed Thursdays | There is no entrance fee, but you can make a small donation. No photography is allowed. Be sure to buy some postcards to bring back home and freak out your friends.
www.cappucciniviaveneto.it
The Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini sits across the street from the Via Veneto exit of the Line B subway stop “Barberini,” and only a few steps away from the Hard Rock Cafe… jussayin’.

Bocca della Verità | Ultimate “Truth or Dare”
Walk along Via del Teatro di Marcello from the Campidoglio, and before hitting the grand Circus Maximus, on the left you’ll reach the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which is famous for its special mosaics, Romanesque bell tower and the Bocca della Verità, the Mouth of Truth. This is, plainly, a lie detector. The Mouth is located in the courtyard outside the church, and you will recognize it immediately. It is a large, round stone face with its mouth open. Ready to put your hand in the mouth? If you haven’t told any lies, everything will be fine… otherwise, the Mouth will know it and chomp off your hand! But don’t worry, this mouth was actually – along with Via del Babuino’s, and Piazza Pasquino’s famous armless tenants – one of Rome’s many “talking statues.” Roman tradition prescribes that protestors may place a written complaint referring to religious or governmental officials by lodging an accusatory poem on the base of the statue, or in this case in the Bocca’s open mouth. If you look closely at the Bocca della Verità, you can see there are two claws, similar to a crab’s, hidden in its curly hair. The mask represents the sea-god Neptune and we all know he prefers to eat fish!
Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin – Via della Greca, 4 | Tel. +39 06 6793609 | Open daily until 5pm

Knights of Malta | Peeking through a Keyhole
>High on the Aventine Hill, via di Santa Sabina and Via Porta Lavernale both open onto the quiet Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. Bordered by a high wall, decorated with obelisks and military trophies, it leads to a famous and fascinating broad and dark wooden door, which is always shut. Known affectionately as the “hole of Rome” the enduring attraction draws visitors to this empty piazza. No key is required: all you have to do is put an open eye to the keyhole, and focus. A vision of St. Peter’s dome perfectly in perspective, framed by trees in the foreground, opens up. The glinting white dome – often wrapped in a thin mysterious mist – looks like it’s standing at the end of the garden path, just beyond the door; when it is instead several miles away. The huge doorway famous for the keyhole is the mighty entrance to the headquarters of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta.
Leaning forward and taking a peek at il Cupolone, simply the dome – as we call it here – through one of Rome’s most prohibited locations, is a definite must on your Rome visit. The show through the keyhole is one hardly forgettable. 
Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta

Pantheon - Rome

Pantheon The Pantheon’s round interior is shaped like a large cylinder, and it is covered by an enormous dome, the largest and widest ever constructed without support! Look up at the center of the dome, see the large open hole? It’s a huge eye, or oculus, that looks up to the sky.
When it rains (or snows) the sloped marble floor and small hidden drains gather the water that falls through the oculus. When the sun shines, the beam of light entering through the oculus hits the walls of the Pantheon in different spots at different times of day. You could actually use it as a huge clock. As you look around the inside of the monument, you can see seven large alternating niches (indented rooms) and one large one at the back. All the niches – semi-circular and rectangular – are chapels decorated with wonderful art. Although this place of worship started out as a temple where Romans could celebrate every deity (the Greek root pan– means ‘all’), today the Pantheon is a Roman Catholic Church. The niches house funeral monuments and tombs. Let’s take a look at some of them. The tomb of Vittorio Emanuele II – Italy’s first King – is in the middle. To the left of it are the tombs of Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia, more royalty. In fact, from 1870, the Pantheon was the burial-place for the Savoy family, the sovereigns that ruled Italy until 1946. On the left, there is another celebrated tomb, but the person buried here is not a king, rather a wonderful Renaissance painter, his name was Raffaello Sanzio, or Raphael. His burial monument portrays a beautiful woman, “la Vergine del Sasso,” the Virgin of the rock. It was Raffaello himself who asked his friend Lorenzetto, to sculpt her for his burial monument. During the Catholic celebration of Pentecost, rose petals are dropped through the oculus… a pretty sight!
Piazza della Rotonda.

La Barcaccia | The Sinking Boat
The fountain in Piazza di Spagna is called the Barcaccia (“ugly old boat”) because it portrays a sinking launch that is taking in water from stern to helm. The sculptor, Pietro Bernini (Gian Lorenzo’s father) created it under the commission of Pope Urban VIII in 1627. Bernini was purportedly inspired after seeing how the boats in the nearby port of Ripetta (one of Rome’s river moorages) had been washed up after a disastrous flood. The Barcaccia fountain has a double basin: one is the drowned boat, while the other is the river it is sinking in. The aqueduct that provides water to the fountain is the Acqua Vergine, an ancient Roman aqueduct still functioning today, bringing water to this part of the city. The pressure is so strong that water springs up naturally, without any mechanical device. The water shoots up high from a middle spout, and also fans out from the mouth of the solar figures on both ends of the boat. It also flows from jets into the bottom part and even spurts from the sides. The natural spring water is always icy cold and refreshing, proof of this are the many overheated tourists and locals drinking (or sometimes even dipping in) the water during summer.
Piazza di Spagna, at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

Palazzo De Cupis | The Ghost Hand
If you are lucky enough to be Piazza Navona on a moonlit night, and if you are a close observer, you could see a mysterious woman’s hand reflected in a dark window. The hand belongs to the beautiful Costanza De Cupis, who was famous during the 17th century for her splendid hands. Her hands were so famous and so beautiful that an artist her contemporary made a plaster cast of one of them, and people would visit the palazzo just to admire it. However, one day while embroidering, Costanza pricked her finger with a rusty needle, which caused an infection and soon after her death. From that moment on, according to legend, when the moon shines on the window of her room, the light that reflects on the glass reveals the shape of a small pale hand. Truth or illusion? Find out by looking closely at the windows of the Palazzo De Cupis…
Piazza Navona.

Corazzieri in Palazzo del Quirinale ©EleonoraBaldwin

Corazzieri in Palazzo del Quirinale ©EleonoraBaldwin

Piazza del Quirinale | The Towering Corazzieri
All the climbing to get here will remind you that you are on one of the seven hills of Rome. This particular one, the Quirinal, takes its name from an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the god Quirinus. Perched on the summit of the Quirinale hill is the Presidential palace. It is huge! The Palazzo was built as a private residence for the Pope; later inhabited by the King of Italy who settled in, and now the President of the Republic lives here. Take a good look at the Presidential guards, the Corazzieri. They wear beautiful uniforms, sport elaborate swords and don strange golden helmets with long horse’s tails streaming down the back. The Corazzieri are a special police unit, who are all very tall and guard the Head of State. They must be over 6 feet tall to qualify! Generations of Corazzieri have been guarding the Palazzo del Quirinale, home to the various dignitary tenants for more than 500 years. If you are lucky, you might get to see the Corazzieri pass by on horseback, that’s when they are at their tallest! Stop in front of the Palazzo’s main entrance on the open piazza, and wait for the changing of the guard everyday around 3:30 p.m. It’s quite a show.
Also, be sure to take a look at the other two famous giants and their horses in the middle of the square, the white marble ones standing above the fountain. They are the mythological twins Castor and Pollux. Piazza del Quirinale.

Giardino Botanico | Rome Botanical Gardens
In this magical garden and its forests, paths and rolling hillsides, you can find a collection of more than 3500 species of rare plants, and discover amazing colors, shapes and perfumes. By walking down the many snaking gravel paths, you’ll encounter extravagant cacti, a bamboo forest, incredibly tall palm trees and tiny little dwarf palms, and some others that creep along like giant snakes. There is even a Soap Tree with leaves that lather up if you wet them and rub them between your hands.
If you want to see the oldest plant in the city, go past the Mediterranean Flora garden and look towards the big staircase. Here you will find a wise and beautiful sycamore (or plane) tree that is 400 years old! There are also two greenhouses that you should not miss. The first houses carnivorous plants, always hungry for insects and bugs; and the second holds flying orchids that are lighter and more delicate than butterflies. Finally, you can head over to the Rocky Garden, or the Japanese Garden to find bonsai trees. These trees are so little and so perfect in every detail, that you will look like a giant standing next to them. And before exiting, be sure to quietly tour the magic Garden of Aromas, where you can close your eyes and try to recognize plants by using only your nose! 
Botanical Gardens Rome – Largo Cristina di Svezia, 24 | Tel. +39 06 49912436

Best Children’s Bookstores in Rome

Several bookstores in Rome sell children’s books both in Italian and English, and most of these have special sections just for kids. Here are some of the best stocked:

The little reader in Esquilino

The little reader
Newly opened children’s bookstore in Esquilino stocks books in English and Italian (0 to young adult) and has a cafeteria with freshly made American-style baked treats, like brownies, cheesecake, carrot cake, muffins, and Fair-trade organic beverages. The bookshop regularly hosts events in both English and Italian such as storytime and workshops for children. Great space for parents and children (there is also a garden) and makes a nice change of pace from sightseeing. Open Mon–Sat 10 6.30 p.m.
Via Conte Verde 66b | Tel. +39 06 877 84678
www.thelittlereader.it

Ave
Very well stocked children’s section.
Via della Conciliazione 12 | Tel. +39 06 688 03162
informazioni@libreriave.it
www.libreriave.it

Il Brucalibro
Children’s bookstore with a wide selection of English titles. The store also organizes music, art and creative writing classes for all ages.
Via Nemorense 39/B | Tel. +39 06 854 3931
www.ilbrucalibro.it
info@ilbrucalibro.it

Dehoniana Books
Known more for its religious publications, this bookstore also boasts a vast selection of secular children’s titles in many languages.
Via della Conciliazione, 37-39 | Tel. +39 06 687 2882 | Fax. +39 06 686 5591
dehonianabooks@dehoniane.it

Feltrinelli
Via V. E. Orlando, 84/86 | Tel. +39 06 482 7878 | 06 487 0999 (International)
Largo Torre Argentina 5 | Tel. +39 06 6880 3248
Galleria Colonna | Tel. +39 06 6975 5001
www.lafeltrinelli.it

Mel Bookstore
This very well stocked bookstore also sells used books at 50% off, and will buy your used books, CDs and DVDs in cash. Coffee shop and TicketOne sale point on the premises.
Via Nazionale 254 | Tel. +39 06 488 5405
www.melbookstore.it
melromainfo@melbookstore.it

Mel/Giannino Stoppani
Piazza SS Apostoli, 59/65 | Tel. +39 06 6994 1045
This is the Rome location of a famous Bologna children’s bookstore, here kids always find something special. The store sells Hoffman toys and there is even a small collection of books in English.
www.gianninostoppanilibreria.com

Mondadori
Via San Vincenzo, 10 (Trevi Fountain)
www.negozimondadori.it

Notebook all’Auditorium
The children’s section of the musical complex’s bookstore is a popular hang-out; kids and parents love to lounge in the padded seating area and quietly browse the many books, games, DVDs and CDs available.
Viale Pietro De Coubertin | Tel. +39 06 8069 3461 | Fax +39 06 8069 0338
info@notebookauditorium.it
www.notebookauditorium.it

Ottimomassimo | Travel bookshop
This is a mobile bookstore, check their website for details on current locations
Tel. +39 06 454 32595
www.ottimomassimo.it
info@ottimomassimo.it

PontePonente
The children’s books sold here cover many topics, from art and poetry to cuisine and theater. Also board games, puzzles, comic books, tour guides, coloring books, manuals and pop-ups.
Via Mondovì 19/21/23 | Tel. +39 06 4542 6682
www.ponteponente.it

The Lion Bookshop & Café (English only)
Italy’s oldest English bookstore was founded in 1947. The children’s section is well stocked.
Via dei Greci 33/36 | Tel. +39 06 3265 4007 | 06 3265 0437 | Fax. +39 06 3265 1382
orders@thelionbookshop.com

Biblioteca Centrale per Ragazzi | Children’s Library
Here kids have access to all the instruments necessary to familiarize with the city. Books can be taken out, or read on the premises. The Children’s Library is divided in separate age sections; there is an online library and several reading rooms, newspaper sections, CDs with earphones, DVD viewing and a board game room. The Library also hosts workshops and exhibits. Kids can further research in the Library’s Internet point.
Via San Paolo alla Regola, 15-18 | Tel. +39 06 6880 1040 | Fax. +39 06 6880 1040
www.bibliotechediroma.it
biblioteca.centraleragazzi@bibliotechediroma.it

Best child-friendly food in Rome

Looking for child-friendly foods, fun restaurants, and affordable prices in Rome where eyebrows will never rise when you walk in with the kids? Let’s start with these few:

RESTAURANTS
Hostaria Buccilli This is a typical trattoria in a countryside setting, located in the Northern suburbs of Rome. The food is homey and the welcoming family ambiance do the rest. But Buccilli’s kiddy plus is the spacious garden, where soccer and scampering are strongly encouraged while parents enjoy their lunch under the shady pergola or the sunlit veranda. In the colder months, book a table in the smaller room by the huge fireplace barbecue. Plenty of high chairs, pillows and friendly waiters. Luigi speaks fluent English and French.
Via dei Due Ponti, 48 | Tel. +39 06 334 0048 | Closed Monday

Agustarello Test your kids’ foodie courage (and yours too) by at least once during your stay in Rome, trying the city’s typical offal cuisine, known here as the fifth quarter, or all those dishes that employ the leftover parts of grazing animals (tripe, sweetbreads, lungs, nerves, tail, intestines, liver, etc.). Steps away from the old Roman slaughterhouse, Agustarello is one of Testaccio’s consistently reliable dining establishments: honest, informal, down to earth and affordable. The food? Homemade and hearty. Coda alla vaccinara (stewed oxtail), Trippa (tripe), Animelle (sweetbreads), Nervetti (a “salad” made with nerves and other meat cuttings), Fagioli con le Cotiche (beans and pork cracklings), Pajata (a traditional dish made with suckling lamb’s intestines. There are of course other non-organ items on the menu, plus the usual homemade desserts like caramel custard or the awesome Crostata di Visciole. In summer, kids can play tag in the spacious concrete back yard.
Via Giovanni Branca, 98/100 | Tel. +39 06 5746585 | Closed on Sunday and Monday at lunch

Lucia |Typical family-run osteria in the heart of the lovely Trastevere neighborhood where kids are welcome to roam around the tables and are treated like royalty by the friendly staff. The food is homemade, local, traditional and very healthy, no junk food or children’s menu. The sauce is made from garden tomatoes, the meat carefully selected at the market that same morning, the vegetables jump at you with freshness. Kids love it here, because between mouthfuls they can stare at newspaper clippings, kinck knacks, family pictures, and lots of ancient kitchen implements hung on the walls. Leave room for dessert and don’t miss Lucia’s homemade tiramisu or the panna cotta with fresh fruit toppings.
Vicolo del Mattonato, 2b | Tel. +39 06 580 3601 | Closed Monday.

Molto There’s plenty of stroller space in this quiet Parioli restaurant featuring seafood and pasta dishes you can enjoy on a garden-enclosed wooden deck. Kids under six get a discount on the impressive all-you-can-eat Sunday “brunch” buffet spread, priced at €20 instead of €35, which is a full-fledged Italian lunch, so you won’t find pancakes and waffles.
Viale Parioli, 122 | Tel. +39 06 808 2900 | Open daily

Cul de Sac | Long and narrow like a train caboose and serving small tasty portions and sampler platters, this famous wine bar with outside seating in summer, accommodates even the fussiest mini-gourmands. You can’t go wrong with a ball of mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto, or the many creative vegetable dishes, hearty soups or commendable house babaghanoush. Meanwhile, grown-ups can sip well-deserved glasses of local Lazio wines.
Piazza Pasquino, 73 | Tel. 06 68801094 | Open daily, lunch and dinner

PIZZA
Forno Campo de’ Fiori The pizza bianca sold by weight at the Forno Campo de Fiori is among the best in town, and all of the breads and pastries sold here are excellent too. Small children are always given a complimentary slice of pizza to chew on as soon as parents walk through the door to make the wait in line tastier. Customers can watch the bakers in action through big glass windows, and then browse the market, or sit on the marble rim of a fountain or a bench and take in all the colors, aromas and sounds. The Forno’s second location next door sells sandwiches already made for takeaway, excellent place for picnic-shopping.
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, 22 | Tel. +39 06 6880 6662 | Open daily 7.30 am – 2.30 pm; 4.45 pm – 8 pm

Trapizzino Ponte Milvio | Kids will love tucking into a Trapizzino! Thse are perfect pockets of focaccia stuffed with typical Roman fare, so expect meatballs in tomato sauce, but also tripe, tongue, sweetbreads and other delectable offal dishes in a portable serving. Children can equally enjoy their triangles of happiness filled with Sicilian broccoli and grilled sausage, braised beef cheek, Mesculun salad or vignarola, octopus and tomato sauce. There are two branches, one in Testaccio (in the same block as Agustarello) and one with outdoor seating, in Ponte Milvio, which is near the Foro Italico sports complex, Auditorium, Axel ice skating rink and the soccer stadium.
Piazza Ponte Milvio, 13 | Tel. +39 06 4341 9624 | Open daily 11 am to 2 am

Remo | This informal pizzeria is a perfect place for kids, they are always welcome and the Roman style pizzas (that is thin crust and very little topping) will be a huge success with the little ones. As a starter, ask for the house bruschetta with fresh tomatoes or cannellini beans, or some of the best fried zucchini flowers and battered cod fillets you’ve ever had. Save room for dessert: the tart filled with ricotta and visciole (wild, sour cherries) is unique.
Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44 | Tel. +39 06 574 6270 | Open Mon-Sat 6.00 pm-1.00 am

Image © Roma Every Day

GELATO
Gelateria del Teatro | Located on beautiful Via dei Coronari, this wonderful gelateria has recently expanded and doubled its offer (there’s a second branch on Lungotevere, near Via Arenula) but the quality of its fabulous gelatos remains unaltered. Only high quality ingredients are used here. I walked into the middle of an argument once between one of the owners and a peach supplier. The fruit was not top choice apparently, and the gelato artisan simply refused to buy. “No peach ice cream today, sorry,” he roared, as the disgruntled farmer walked out the door. Apart from the hallmark pure chocolates and standard flavors, the house winter flavor combos include Langhe hazelnut, organic fig and cheese, Bronte pistachio, dark chocolate and Nero d’Avola, honey and gorgonzola. While the summer flavors shine in the delightful spumante and wild strawberry, white peach and garden sage, raspberry and lavender, and the latest: mint stracciatella, and the unusual white chocolate and fresh basil.
Via dei Coronari 65 | Tel. +39 06 4547 4880 | Open daily

©EleonoraBaldwin

©EleonoraBaldwin

Fatamorgana | Dark chocolate-wasabi gelato is only one of the mouth-watering flavors packed in the non-ending display case. Fatamorgana’s dedication to producing ice cream from scratch using exclusively fresh, seasonal ingredients and gluten-free products enhances the quality of its bold flavors, like the bizarre gorgonzola and pears, or confections inspired by Sardinian seadas (fried pastries filled with halloumi-type cheese, then drizzled with chestnut honey); almond-cardamom, white chocolate, poppy seed, and pine nuts.
Via Lago di Lesina, 9 | Via Ostiense, 36E | Via G. Bettolo, 7

Pascucci Frullati | Despite the 75 birthday candles, at Pascucci – Roman milkshake shrine par excellence – the blenders of the newly remodeled shop still pour gallons of refreshing combos, like ones made with tropical fruits and organic milk from grass-fed cows: walnut and avocado special, or the Amalfi, a chilled delight made with, among other fresh ingredients, local Amalfi organic lemons. Classic seasonal smoothies include blueberry, banana, strawberry, cantaloupe melon and peach.
Piazza degli Zingari, 5 | Tel. +3906 4890 6955 | other branches: Via di Torre Argentina, 20 | Tel. +39 06 686 4816 | Open 6.00 am to midnight, except on Sunday.

Pica | Alfredo Pica – Signor Gelato himself – according to many, makes Rome’s best. Among the old-fashioned constants, shining brightly is a noteworthy pistachio, and – a Pica original – riso alla cannella, which is a frozen, crunchy, cinnamon-laced rice pudding. All the sorbets are made from nothing but fruit and sugar. On any given day, small batches of unusual flavors can include fragrant, bright-pink rosa, made from candied rose petals; egg-based custard with fragoline di bosco, tiny wild strawberries; and the indescribable manna, a heavenly sweet tree resin of biblical fame. There is a spacious outdoor veranda with tables and benches.
Via Della Seggiola, 12 | Tel. +39 06 686 8405 | Open daily

©EleonoraBaldwin

©EleonoraBaldwin

My son and I are loyal to Oxilia, (in Via Nino Oxilia, 8–Parioli) our neighborhood gelato pusher, an Argentine gentleman who will pass us vats of bootleg Dulce de Leche under the counter, or phone me (PHONE me, I said) when the fresh melon cremolato is ready to be scooped on wafer cones…

Click to read an article I wrote on more child-friendly restaurants.

Best public playgrounds in Rome

Rome offers a vast number of outdoor public areas provided for children to play, within parks, or as stand-alone recreation venues. Unfortunately many of the city’s playgrounds have been vandalized or are in close proximity to uninviting areas. Here are some of the city’s best.
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©EleonoraBaldwin

· Villa Ada This vast play area is just down the gravel path as you turn right at the Via Salaria 273 or 275 entrance to the Villa Ada public park. There are plenty of well-maintained swings, slides, climbing ropes, seesaws and bench platforms. There is also plenty space for bicycles and a picnic area that serves as an open-air birthday party venue. Tip: you can avoid the traffic on Via Salaria by taking the hidden entrance to the park from Via Panama 29, which is behind the playground on Via Panama (see below). A path veers left and down a wooden ramp of steps into Villa Ada.

· Via Panama Take the cycle path down Via Panama off of Piazza Ungheria, and you won’t miss this large enclosed play space. The equipment is fairly standard but there is plenty of it and there is also space for riding bicycles, tricycles and scooters. The pavement beneath the swings and jungle-gyms is in soft weatherproof foam rubber, and the gravel path circling the perimeter of the enclosed play area was just recently redone. This particular playground is a non-smoking, non-dog area.

· Villa Balestra This small park sits perched on the elegant Parioli district’s Monte Parioli hill and provides a splendid view of Rome. Enter the park at the end of Via Ammannati and proceed to the large enclosed play area at the other end of the park. The equipment is new and there are rides for kids of all ages. Next to the play area, parents can relax at the Villa Balestra’s café with outdoor seating and enjoy a coffee or spremuta while the little ones play. There is also a paved basketball court which doubles as a space for riding bicycles and scooters.

· Villa Glori At the north end of Via di Villa Glori, between the newly founded café and the pony corral, is a small play structure enclosed in a sandy patch. Very little equipment, but fun pony rides for just €3,50. For a higher price, kids can take a guided horse walk around the park.

· Auditorium Parco della Musica In an elevated section of the recently founded Concert Hall’s 50 acre park, the fully equipped playground enjoys sunlight until very late in the day, allowing good Vitamin D intake and lots of free roaming playtime. The jungle-gyms, slides and other structures are brand new and the flooring is in soft weatherproof foam rubber.

Image © Roma Every Day

· Casina di Raffaello Playground Constructed at the beginning of 2007, this play area in Viale della Casina di Raffaello is adjacent to the Casina di Raffaello, an activity center (ludoteca) for children aged 3+. The equipment is not your typical swings and slides rather much more innovative and environment-friendly. There are several balance beams and even wooden planks that make music when you jump on them. For small children, there are also a wooden tractor to sit on, logs shaped like sheep and cattle, and 3 little wooden houses to play in. Inside the ludoteca, there are a book and toy store, and a quiet reading space with Italian children’s books and chalkboard tables that little ones can draw on. The child-proportioned bathrooms also provide changing stations.

· Bioparco The Rome Zoo within the Villa Borghese perimeter has a fantastic Noah’s Ark-shaped playground with several ramps, rope bridges, slides and tunnels. The only drawback is that to access the playground area, parents and children taller than 1 meter (3 ft) must pay an entrance fee to the zoo.

· Villa Torlonia This is a recently refurbished play area within an enclosed space in Via Siracusa. Just down the road, on Viale di Villa Massimo, there is another green area with some equipment for younger children (age 2 to 3). You can also take the kids to the Limonaia di Villa Torlonia, a café and restaurant on the other side of the park, and treat yourselves to some excellent gelato.

· Via della Cava Aurelia n.100 This is not inside a park, but is still worth the visit. It is a large enclosed play space with swings, slides and climbing ropes, plus benches where you can sit while the kids play. There is also room for kids to ride their bicycle, tricycle or scooter. Watch out though: this space can get extremely crowded in the afternoon when school is out.

· Villa Celimontana This public park is up the hill at the south end of the Colosseum, walk up Via Claudia, which eventually becomes Via della Navicella. To the right, at number 12 is the entrance. Walk down the beautiful gravel path to the large playground, where kids can also enjoy riding bikes and scooters too.

· Villa Sciarra A delightful small park with a well-equipped children’s playground, and the American Fine Arts Academy and the American University in close proximity. The swings, slides and seesaws are not stellar, but well-maintained. The park also has a pond and a peacock in a huge cage that kids are strangely attracted to. Take the Tram n.8 from Largo Argentina, get off at the Ministero dell’Instruzione (A large grey official building on the northwest side of the avenue) and walk up the hill on Via Dandolo, and turn left on Via Calandrelli, at number 35 is the Villa’s entrance.

· Villa Doria Pamphili This space has its entrance in Largo Botanica, off Via Aurelia Antica in Monteverde, at the end of the park furthest from the Porta S. Pancrazio entrance. The equipment is not breathtaking (just swings and slides), but the surroundings are beautiful, the park is huge and there is plenty of space for riding bicycles and scooters. Kids can look for pine nuts on the ground and crack them open with a rock. “Pinoli” provide a tasty snack.

On the other side of the Tiber River, there is a playground in front of the Santa Cecilia in Trastevere church, as well as in the moat-park that surrounds Castel Sant’Angelo. Don’t forego the interior of this grandiose tomb-turned-papal fortress-turned-museum. It’s a treasure trove of armor and curious old weapons, with enough of the castle stuff—guard posts, stacks of cannonballs, passageways and lookouts—to keep even antsy little kids happy while parents admire the opulent frescoes and furnishings.

Nasoni, Rome’s unique drinking fountains

Few things come free in Rome but tourists and locals can always count on ice-cold drinking water from the 2,500 drinking fountains scattered about the city. So if you are dying for a chug of cold water, there’s no need to spend a small fortune on environment un-friendly bottled water. All you need to do is look for a nasone and drink all the fresh water you want–it’s free!

Nasoni are Rome’s free drinking fountains, and they are virtually everywhere. First installed in 1874, they are a symbol of the city.

©EleonoraBaldwin

©EleonoraBaldwin

The stout 3-foot and 200-pound cylindrical cast iron structure ows its name to its long, bent spout that resembles a nose (nasone in Italian means “big nose”), from which ice-cold drinkable spring water flows.

The spout is an engineering masterpiece. A small hole at the top and the water’s strong pressure allow for practical drinking. Plugging the main spout with the palm of your hand causes the water to pour upwards out of this hole in a perfect drinking arch. Kids love to drink from nasoni, because they participate in the spectacular acrobatics and get irreparably wet and giggly.

©EleonoraBaldwin

©EleonoraBaldwin

Each nasone is marked with the traditional Roman S.P.Q.R. The initials stand for the Latin phrase, Senatus PopulusQue Romanus (“The Senate and the People of Rome”), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official signature of the government. S.P.Q.R. is the motto of the city of Rome and appears in the city’s coat of arms, as well as on many of the city’s civic buildings, manhole covers, and municipal establishments. The water that flows abundantly from the nasoni is licensed by the city of Rome. That’s why Romans call it l’acqua del sindaco, the mayor’s water.

Initially, only 20 nasoni were placed in and around the city center, and some of these originals can still be found in the historic Trastevere neighborhood. As Rome expanded throughout the 20th century, nasoni were also positioned in the newer districts. Most were placed along outdoor markets in the proximity of fish and flower vendors, and in main piazzas and squares. There are currently 2,500 nasoni in the metropolitan Rome area, 280 of which inside the old walled city. After more than 130 years since their first appearance, these fontanelle (drinking fountains) are still part of Roman daily life and are celebrated by locals and tourists alike for their public utility and their charm.

Find the nearest Nasone to you click here!