Italy is a wonderful place to raise a child, especially for working moms like myself! It’s a very kid-friendly country and Italians absolutely love children, so you get a warm welcome pretty much everywhere you go. When my 16-month old son Nicolas is having a tantrum in public because I won’t give him another cookie, and neither I nor my husband Angelo can calm him down, people actually stop to talk and smile at him to help cheer him up. And it usually works!
I have a pretty busy work schedule, as I spend my mornings working at LivItaly Tours, the tour company that my husband Angelo and I started. After an intensive morning, I dedicate my time to Nicolas until his nap time. We make it a point to always spend quality time with him outdoors, especially considering how beautiful Rome is. We live close to a park, so this makes it much easier to get a bit of nature into every day.
The best part of Rome is that it is a very green city, with plenty of parks and public areas suitable for children. Most of the time while I am strolling about the park with Nicolas, I see visitors with their heads in their maps, checking off their “must-see-list” and they can easily miss out on all the wonders of Rome. Especially families, who don’t take the time to enjoy the many peaceful areas of Rome where you can let your children roam free.
However, like any big city Rome can be challenging for a family with small children and a dog! Traffic is extremely intense on the roads, and sometimes it feels like Vespas can run by you at the speed of light on a narrow street. Needless to say, on roads like this I keep Nicolas in his stroller and my eyes on the road. The city can also get quite crowded and filled with tourists and locals. This can be exhausting to keep an eye on my little wild one as he is running around.
Here are some insider tips from one parent to another:
Top Three Kid-Friendly Parks to Visit in Rome
Villa Borghese Park is the largest park in Rome located just on top of the Spanish Steps. It is super central and the view alone you get from this hilltop park is worth a visit, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit. You can rent row boats in the little lake, rent bikes if you have older children or the popular bike-car where you can put your little one in the front seat. Nicolas loves this park and so do Angelo and I!
Villa Pamphili Park is less touristy, and therefore less organized activities to do here. In the center of the park they have a rather big playground where we like to go on Sundays. Next to it you find a cute little café where you can get a snack. In the summer, it is really great to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while the children play nearby. We usually kill two birds with one stone and bring our dog there since she can run for miles chasing her ball. The park is reachable by foot from the Vatican or Trastevere neighborhood, but as a heads up it is a bit of a steep climb.
Castel Sant’Angelo Park is our every-day-park. We live close by, so it is perfect for a daily dose of fresh air. Nicolas loves to run around here, and he has a bunch of friends who do too! The park has swings and a slide, making it a great place for families to spend a few hours. The highlight of the visit is when the police on horseback cross through, which they often do. The horses are enormous, and they put a huge smile on the little one’s faces. Usually they let Nicolas pet the them which he absolutely loves.
Kid-Friendly Things We Love to Do in Rome
Explora Children’s Museum
Sometimes when Angelo and I organize a play date with friends who have children or if we just want to do something fun with Nicolas, we go to the Explora Children’s Museums just north of Piazza del Popolo Square. It is a huge indoor playground with all sorts of fun and challenging games and activities for children. They have different sections dedicated to your child’s age. Nicolas’ favorite section is the music wall with tambourines, drums and many other instruments. Just like his father!
Typical Rustic Trattoria Restaurants
When we bring Nicolas out for lunch or dinner we usually choose to go to the more rustic places called trattoria instead of the more upscale restaurants. It’s completely acceptable to bring a toddler into a fancy restaurant in Italy, but we feel more comfortable going to a place that feels a bit more like home. Especially since we usually leave the place a bit messier than we found it!
Gelato, Gelato & More Gelato
We may be using our son as an excuse to eat a lot of gelato, but he doesn’t seem to mind! Frankly we are all gelato freaks in our family and knowing how they make gelato in Italy, you know you are eating a pretty healthy summer snack. Not all gelato shops are the same though. Most make theirs from scratch with natural products and seasonal fruits and nuts. It is absolutely delicious and a great treat for children!
LivItaly Kid-Friendly Treasure Hunt Tours
Angelo and I know the importance of keeping kids entertained while traveling which is why we have designed kid-friendly treasure hunt tours for the little ones. We have a few in Rome and Florence and the kids love them! The tours offer an entertaining way to learn history and soak up the culture through experience!
If you are planning a trip or a move to Italy with your family, I would recommend it wholeheartedly. It’s a great city for children to be immersed in culture, nature and wonderful people!
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