Rome Toddler Guide
Rome is a blast to visit low season with a toddler even when it rains. We had a whirlwind 24-hour visit & this guide is our little boy’s Top 5 to-do favourites. Don’t be put off by not having an umbrella there are plenty of touts on street corners during showers that will sell you a large double one for €10!
1. Explora Children’s Museum
Does Rome hold a medal for its great children’s museum? Even if it doesn’t it’s oodles & oodles of inspirational fun for assorted ages. When we visited the age range spanned one year old babies up to 7 year olds, including 3 school parties, so advance booking is advisable. This children’s museum is fully interactive; A didn’t stop for 1 hour 15 minutes and then only because he was absolutely shattered (as were the attendant adults!), although he did somehow manage to find some energy for an assisted quick and wet go on the zip slide outside before leaving.
Most notable is the super duper water activity table which is integrated with a fire engine to climb, with a hose to squirt. Everywhere there are leavers to pull and things to tactilely explore physics, nature, animals, banks, growing, shapes the list goes on and on . There is a mini supermarket to buy your risotto ingredients, an orto, Italian vegetable garden to harvest your carrots, red cabbage, tomatoes, peppers to put in your traditional cane basket to take home, a bank and petrol station all to play in. I loved the effort that had been put into the slope that connects the first and ground floors, no matter how many children bombed down it, none fell over, hence them all running up and down and up and down again! Bravo Rome for such a brilliant initiative.
Cost €10 for adult entrance, and staggered entrance fee depending on age for children, 12-36 months – €5 | Address: Via Flamini 82, 00196 Rome (2 minute walk Piazza del Popolo and Piazzale Flaminio) | Official Website
2. Casina della Civette (House of the Owls), Villa Torlonia
For those seeking a short burst of fairytale colour on a rainy day in Rome, The House of the Owls could be the place to retreat to with your toddler, (even alone it’s a must see). Who knows like us you may get lucky and have the sun come out and make use of the villa’s park when you come out, Mussolini enjoyed it enough to make the actual villa his Rome residence.
The folly was extended for the eccentric bachelor Prince Giovanni Torlonia, the original house being designed in 1840 in an unusual Swiss chalet-style theme. It has some 54 stunning art nouveau stained glass windows with 18 decorative pieces for you to admire, talk colours and play animal i-spy games with. A’s favourite was the very impressive peacock stained glass window. The preliminary sketches of the windows are also displayed but these are more of interest to adults perhaps. It’s a beautiful tranquil space that reminded me of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Hill House in Helensburgh. A loved the burst of Tosca that shot out in one of the rooms and the modern leaf mirror sculpture that is a little bit too easy for toddlers to access!
Cost: €8 for adults, free for children | Address: Villa Torlonia, via Nomentana 70 | Official Website, tip if you buy tickets online you will need to pick them up at the entrance of the park NOT at the House of the Owls.
3. Trevi Fountain
It doesn’t matter if it is raining or not to a toddler when visiting the Trevi Fountain, it’s pure brilliance on an eye candy and touchy feely level. I’m not quite sure how many woooows A expressed at the sight of winged sea horses (hippocamps), he loved getting wetter by trying to tame the waters as well as fish out the coins he’d flung in.
You know this is going to be one of the moments they may just remember helped along by the 100s of iconic photos you take.
Address: Piazza di Trevi, Trevi, 00187 Rome
4. Bartolucci Toy Shop
Bartolucci is a wonderful shop for a magpie-eyed toddler to enjoy diving into in Rome whilst it’s raining outside, in close proximity to the Parthenon. It houses hundreds of floor to ceiling brightly-coloured handmade children’s pine toys and children’s home accessories. A loved identifying all the slightly garish meets twee animals here and listening to the musical clocks. Outside is Pinocchio for you to take a seat besides or to practice your very best lie on and give a little donation for the opportunity.
Address: Via dei Pastini 98,Navona, 00186 Rome | Official Website
Suffering from spaghetti overkill we parents had a craving to eat something that wasn’t Italian. High on our list of favourite foods is Ethiopian so we thought why not have lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant that was advertised close to the hotel.
It proved to be v popular with A, he loved the Ethiopian crunchy take on falafels with plain yoghurt and a pastry that reminded me of a samosa. The lamb and beef wats we had served on injera were both excellent.
Particularly popular with A were the two very large giraffe statues, animal painting and African masks. Even if you don’t make it to the giant open mouthed statue, Bocca della Verità, you can still have fun playing a similar game with these. Extremely friendly staff.
Address: Via Gaeta, 26, 00185, Rome | Facebook Page
Where to Stay Family Budget Style
Try the ever so friendly Beehive for a superb family budget hotel run by an American couple. It’s located close to Rome’s main railway station,Termini, so is perfectly situated for walking around the city or for jumping on the bus to the different locations. We stayed in one of their immaculate and very pretty spacious ‘Sweets’ with en-suite bathroom and full access to their very handy family-friendly communal kitchenette. A particularly enjoyed the sweets left on the pillows and sniffing the gorgeous handmade soap. Noise from a bustling Rome was pretty minimal inside and we all slept well. Wi-fi was speedy and there is use of an iPad for customers as well maps and guidebooks for those that like to discover a city by more traditional means. We had breakfast in their organic cafe which was a lovely space and provided some great poached eggs. There is communal area to relax indoors and outdoors (for when it isn’t raining).
Cost €90 double room en-suite bathroom, €15 for cot or fold-up bed. Cheaper options are available less en suite and to stay in the Hive which is dormitory-style accommodation.
Day 21& Day 22 #ohdaddyoh