The Best in Rome for Children
ENTERTAINING THE KIDS
Originating at Disney's Epcot Center, a surround screen three-dimensional experience, takes kids on a ride through the centuries of Roman history. It's only a thirty-minute thrill, but it could be an introduction to the city of Rome that will keep kids intrigued through all the sightseeing to follow, when they'll visit the actual places they saw in the film. Narration available in several languages.
Via dei Santi Apostoli 20 (off Via del Corso)
Open daily, 10:30 am to 7 pm tel 06 6992 1823
Rome's summertime amusement park, with a dolphin show, otter and seal show, huge water slide, pool, parrot zoo, a multimedia theater and more. A full day's entertainment. On the Via del Mare in Torvalanica south of Rome, or take take the free shuttle buses from Stazione Termini and Eur. Open in the warm weather months, April through mid October. €25, kids over 65 or under 10, €18
Explora: Museo dei Bambini di Roma
Rome's children's museum is in Italian for Italians, but accommodations are made for English speakers throughout the exhibit spaces, so it's worth a visit with your English-only kids. Modeled after the first children's museum, which was founded in Boston in 1899, the museum's aim is to expand learning beyond the parameters of the classroom, and to help children understand themselves and the society in which they live. In the opening exhibit, which begins with the word "io", ("I") children understand how they came to be, from conception through doctor visits and delivery. A second area teaches children about daily necessities like food, water, shelter and transportation. There are areas designed to teach them about the ecosystem and respecting the environment, and about communication and the role of technology. Special arrangements can be made for birthday parties hosted at the museum. English speaking staff members and arrangements for school groups are available, but you'll need to call in advance.
Via Flaminia, 82 (near Piazza del Popolo and the Ministry of the Navy)
Tuesday -Friday 9:30 - 11:30 am and 3-5 pm..
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 10 am-noon and 3-5 pm
Visits last 1 hour and 45 min. Reservations are necessary on weekends and holidays.
Children must be accompanied by adults
tel 06 361 3776
Planetarium and Museo Civiltà Romana
Rome's new Planetarium
shares space with the Museum of Roman Civilizations, an improbable partnership between two polar extremes. The museum of Roman Civilizations traces the history of the city, and includes some charming scale models of Rome as it once was. The astronomical museum within the complex functions as a theatre, taking vistors on a tour that departs from earth, procedes to a moon landing, and is followed by a Solar System presentation, exploring time, space and chemical elements.
Piazza G. Agnelli, 10 in the Museo Civiltà Romana (EUR)
Open Tuesday-Friday, 9 am-2 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 9 am -7 pm
tel 06 820 77304
The sixty-five acre park that covers most of the Pincian slope, surrounding the Villa Borghese, was the 17th century suburban residence of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the 17th century prelate aristocrat, who amassed an important collection of antiquities, sculpture, decorative art and mosaics from the Roman empire, which he distributed throughout the villa's twenty rooms. Since 1903, when the villa grounds were opened to the public, its gardens and lakes have become a centerpiece of Rome's cultural and recreational life. During the early mornings and twilight hours the trails are alive with joggers and dog walkers, and children play on the grounds after school and during weekends. The Galleria Borghese is now an important museum, housing the collection begun by the cardinal who built it. The Piazza Sienna, a natural amphitheater on the grounds, is the scene of summer concerts. In recent years, the park has become home to an accurate re-creation of Shakespeare's Globe Theater, where plays are performed in summer months; and a Casa del Cinema, where historic films are screened. The Casino Valadier is an elegant spot for tea or luncheon in a garden setting.
If you're spending time with the family, you can rent bikes, kid's bikes, tandems, pedal carts, on the Pincio (Viale dei Bambini and Viale di Villa Medici) and in front of the zoo, the Bioparco di Roma.
Bioparco (Zoological Gardens)
In addition to its collection of some 1000 animals belonging to more than 200 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds, the Rome zoo has extended its services to include alternative activities: picnic areas, play areas, gift shop, beverage and snack counters and restaurants. Children of all ages are invited to plan birthday celebrations there with friends and family.
Viale del Giardino Zoologico, 1
Winter hours: 9 am-5 pm through March 24
€8,00 - €6,00 (3-12 yrs) free (0-3 and diabled)
Wednesdays free admission
to those over 60
tel 06 671 09270
Museo Civico di Zoologia
An important educational and observation facilty with more than 5000 specimens, including an extensive collection of shellfish, insects and birds displayed throughtout 18 rooms. There's also a notable collection of reptilian, bird and mammal skeletons for osteo enthusiasts. The museum's new program investigates the origins of sexuality in evolution that enable fertilization.
Via Aldrovandi, 18 (on the Parioli side of the gardens, neighboring the American ambassador's residence)
Tuesday-Saturday, 9 am-7 pm
€4,50 Free to children under 18 or over 60
Tel 06 671 09270
The Janiculum Hill
The hill that rises above Trastevere and the Vatican looks out over all of Rome. It's a breathtaking view at any time of day, and there's a little coffee bar where you can have a cappuccino or an aperitivo. For children, there's a puppet show and a merry-go-round. The puppets perform on weekends, and although the dialogue is in Italian, the appeal of the traditional Neopolitan bash and hit'em Punch and Judy show, performed by master puppeteer Giovanni Piantadosi, is universal.
Piazza Garibaldi (Take the 115 bus)
Saturday-Sunday, 10 am -3 pm
Museo Nazionale delle Paste Alimentari
This is a fun place for children to see exhibits demonstrating the different ways in which pasta is made, its history and it's many uses and variations. It's just steps from the Trevi Fountain, so it's easy to stop in while you're exploring the area.
Open every day 9:30 am-5:30 pm
tel 06 699 1119
Museo Preistorico e Etnografico di Luigi Pigorini
The Ethnographic Museum was founded in 1875 by Luigi Pigorini and reached full museum status in 1889 as an institution focused on collecting and archiving data and objects of the pre-Roman period in Lazio, Southern Eturia and Umbia. In recent years, thanks to the acquisition of the Kerkerian di Albertis collection, the museum has expanded to include artefacts from Borneo, Oceania - Southern Seas, Africa, Asia and Central America and added special sections on the pre-historic and Neolithic age as well as early Iron Age discoveries.
Piazza Marconi, 14
Open daily 9 am- 2 pm Group tours in English available if booked in advance.
€4-€ 2 tel 06 549 521
The Braschi family palace has been a museum, Nazi police headquarters, and after a long period during which it was closed, it has reopened as a museum for the city of Rome. The collection documents Rome's history from medieval times to the first half of the 20th century including historic sedan chairs, carriages, furniture, ceramics, fabrics, tapestries, woodcuts, paintings, drawings and engravings chronicle the city's transformation. There are also mosaics, frescoes and an important collection of photographs produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as paintings by recognized artists from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The mythical statue Pasquino (locally known as the talking statue) stands in the adjacent piazza.
Via di San Pantaleo, 10 (Piazza Navona)
Tuesday-Sunday 9 am-7 pm
tel 06 6919 3002
On Rome's south side, the Caffarella stretches farther than the eye can see. It's a park so big you won't believe you're in the middle of the city, especially when a flock of sheep crosses your path, or you happen by the farmyard where fresh cheese and eggs are sold. As you wander the park's pathways, you'll cross streams and grottoes dating back to the fourth century, as well as the ruins of an ancient aquaduct. The ancient tomb of Ceclia Metella can be seen in the distance. It's a great place to take the children for a picnic and look for a shady tree. In warmer months bicycles can be rented at the main office.
Largo Tacchi Venturi (Via Appia Antica) Take the A metro to the Colli Albani exit, or take the Number 87 bus
Bike rentals €3 hour or €10 per day
In the Appia zone.
The largest villa in Rome, surrounded by a huge park, Villa Ada was the private residence of Vittorio Emanuele III. Although it's mostly known as a popular playground, the park and gardens are full of botanical treasures: rare cedars of grand dimension, rose mimosa, brown orchids. Children enjoy the natural beauty as much as the skating paths, game area, lake at the eastern end of park and marked walking paths. Squirrels, rarely seen in Rome are part of the attraction here.
In the Salario zone.
In Parioli at the northern end of town, not far from Ponte Milvio and Acqua Acetosa, the park that surrounds Villa Glori is full of shade trees: pine, oak, birch and locust, making it cool in summer and damp in the rainy season. It's often referred to as the park of "Rememberance" in recognition of the Garibaldian battle fought there in 1867. The pony ride is a favorite among toddlers and young children. And archeology buffs will enjoy walking to the third century mausoleum at to top of the park.
In the Parioli zone.
Rome’s largest municipal park joins the Gianiculum Hill on one side, meeting the Aurelian Wall along the way. Inside this vast space are bits of Rome’s ancient and Medieval past. An afternoon in the park could turn out to be a history lesson for children. The Columbarium, a comunal burial chamber with niches in the walls where funerary urns were placed, dates back to the Roman era. Among the remnants of Imperial Rome there's the acquaduct of Paolo Traino. Archeological excavations reveal a middle to late Medieval building phase. By the sevententh century, the property fell into the hands of Camillo Pamphili, Pope Innocent the 10th’s nephew, who commissioned the renowned sculptor and architect Alessandro Algardi to design the villa and fountains. By the middle of the 1800’s, the park had become a battleground, with Rome defending herself against the advancing French army. More recently the via Olympica cut through the property, making way for the 1960 Olympic games. Finally in 1971, the Comune di Roma acquired the park and opened it to the public. Joggers, cyclists, socccers players, archeology enthusiasts, children with play appointments, couples in love, all find corners of the park to call their own. In the Monteverde zone with parking at the top of Via di San Pancrazio.
Rome by Bike
Rome now has 150 chilometres of navigable paths for bicycle, walking or jogging .
–Ponte Risorgimento – Ponte Siblico
--30 kilometers along the Tiber from Mezzocammino south to Castel Giubileo north
--4 kilometers – Aniene River from Villa Ada and Ponte Nomentana
--22 kilometres along the Aniene River connecting Ponte Nomentana to Ponte Mammolo and Casale Rosso to the Nomentana train stop and Metro B Ponte Mamolo
--along the banks of the Tiber River
Click here for a map of Rome's biking and walking trails.
Click here for bike and scooter rentals.
From late autumn to early spring bowling is a favorite activity among older children and younger Roman teenagers who need a place to come in from the cold. Almost everyone is on the same level of gutter ball throws and the adrenalin surges when finally, a pin or two is laid to rest. No skill required to enjoy an afternoon or evening at some of the busiest weekend hangouts in Rome.
Lungatevere Acqua Acetosa (adjacent to Parioli) tel 06 8086 147
via Mura Francesi 1 (zona Ciampino) tel 06 7963 570
Ostia: Cineland Multiplex Bowling facility, via dei Romagnoli 515 tel 06 561 841. Cineland complex provides ample parking, fourteen cinemas, McDonald’s, Pub and commercial center.
Roller skating is still a popular outdoor and indoor activity among Rome's children. Although it can be practiced in drive-ways or up and down neighborhood streets, a few recreational spaces are dedicated to the sport.
Roller Skating and Skate Boarding:
Foro Italico Lungotevere at Ponte Duca di Aosto, near Ponte Milvio
Roller Skating Rinks:
EUR Palaeur, Piazzale dello Sport, Roma EUR
Centro Polisportivo Fonte
Lessons for chidren ages 4 through 13
via A. Meloda, 111 (EUR) tel 06 50 30 272
Also at via R. Ferruzzi, 112 tel 06 50 38 585
At Christmas, Rome's municipal government sets up alternative ice-skating rinks in the heart of Rome. At other times you’ll need to travel to Rome's city limits and beyond. Palaghiaccio Di Marino is an enormous oblong structure with an Olympic size rink (30 x 60 metres) located 4 kilometres from Ciampino Airport. Off season, the facility undergoes various transformations, functioning as a concert hall, sports arena, theatre or cinema.
Palaghiaccio di Marino, Via Appia km19 , Marino tel 06 935 474 12.
Busline FF.SS Roma – Albano/Velletri to S. Maria delle Mole stop.
Monday – Thursday, 5 – 6:30 pm; Friday 5 – 6:30 pm and 9 pm – 12:30 am.
€6 – 8 includes rental fee for skates. Lessons are available
Rock Climbing (Arrampicare)
At Colle Salario Onlus Roma you can scale resined walls up to 6 meters high using all the mountaineer hardware — harness, ropes, etc. If your children are beginners, settle for the lesser wall heights of 2 to 3 meters and no ropes! Instructions in English are available on request. For younger children, birthday celebrations or special events can be organized around rock climbing activities. Membership to the gym is preferred but arrangements to use the facilities can be made for persons visiting Rome or taking up residency for a brief period. Lessons Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 – 10:30 pm. Earlier times are arranged for younger childen.
Assoc. Colle Salario Onlus Roma
Largo Monte San Giusto, 14 (zona Salaria) near Monte Sacro tel 06 656 22 302
Sportsmania at the south end of the city gets toddlers and young children started barely before they’re out of diapers. They offer “Baby Climb” beginning at age 5, and go up to age 16.
“Gym Climb,” is for the more serious climbing enthusiast or those prepared to partake in once a month Sunday rock climbing excursions.
Courses are offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 7 – 8 pm and 8 - 9 pm.
Via Statella 19 (zona Portuense) tel 335 65 25 473
Other climbing facilities:
Rock & Walls Assoc Sportiva Via G. Castellini, 21 tel 06 897 3144
Gruppo Sportivo Forestale Via Carducci, 5 tel 06 488 1223
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In Rome Now Travel Guide: Rome Italy for Children