London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
When thinking of Italy, Rome with baby or Rome with toddler is not the first thing which springs into mind. However, Rome is a family friendly destination that we tested on two occasions with our eldest – first with a 5 weeks baby and second time, when he turned 1 year.
Romans and Rome’s meltpot generally love babies and kids and they do try hard to be helpful. Of course this is a latin culture so they are not necessarily fond of routines. Also Romans tend not the most perceptive in terms of timing or urgency. Please also bear in mind Rome is also a fashion city so breastfeeding in public not necessarily the most popular or comfortable. But provided you bear these points in mind, travelling and sightseeing with a baby is actually quite enjoyable.
The city has a great supply of flats family friendly on Housetrip and Airbnb, on both ocassions we found good value for money charming flats which could fit large families. First ocassion (Rome with baby) we stayed next to Vatican, a very nice old flat fully renovated by Tevere – great views from living area of Castello di Angello and v easy access with the pram given its ground floor location.
Il Castello. The grandmothers loved its proximity to Vatican and the piazzas but in the same time quiet residential neighbourhood with little gem restaurants, frequented equally by locals as well as priests and monks.
The second time (Rome with toddler), we hired a very large flat, 4 bedrooms to fit two sets of grandparents and a separate room for the baby – old style elegant flat, high ceilings and piano, next to Termini – happy with the flat, less with the location – whilst everything is close by and convenient, the area gets quite dodgy in the evenings, piazzas and little streets sometimes populated by homeless and occasionally the odd crowd. If glamorous neighbours or residential feel are not a priority, then recommendable.
Restaurants. Despite the hordes of restaurants, Rome for some reason failed to amaze us with particular ones. The only restaurant where we went back few times it was a little gem next to Vatican, Peccato Divino – very suggestive name of its cuisine gourmande.
We tested otherwise a variety of places, some recommended by local friends, some just based on TripAdvisor ratings – and whilst the quality is good and can’t go too wrong, we didn’t come across anything else memorable. The reality is also that we are spoilt to have great Italian friends regularly cooking for us and joining them on brilliant foodie trips all over Italy, including many areas less spoilt by tourism.
For more culinary inspiration in Rome with toddler or without, head to A taste for travel Eating Italy tour of Rome – they figured out how enthusiastic eaters could enjoy so much better the off-the-beaten path into relatively unexplored neighbourhoods.
And while at 6 weeks R ticked off all the crowded key sightseeing places, at one year we have seen a different side of Rome – sightseeing for parents combined to playground for our energetic toddler. Compared to London, parks and playground areas not all in the best shape but still many enough to keep us entertained and on a discovery mode for a week.
Villa Borghese by far the largest and nicest green area, includes a Zoo, several playgrounds, a couple of cafes and nice restaurant. We celebrated R’s first birthday in here, very nice Sunday lunch buffet at Cinecaffee Casina, next door to few playgrounds. Under the August scorching sun in Rome this is one green oasis and certainly the best kept and groomed in the City. Lots of picnic areas, alleys and couple of Roman villas sprang around, quiet, refreshing and beautiful.
For Rome with baby and/or Rome with toddler, few other parks we’ve been to:
– playground next to Castello di Angello next to the Castel and Vatican, occasionally next to a market with local refreshments and goodies. Some green areas and of course lots of sightseeing around for large families that could organise themselves and share the toddlers entertainment and grown up agenda;
– playground next to Colloseum. Parco de Colle Opio. Under August scorching sun, it was yellow hot and uninviting. Its been our least favorite but still has been fun as we socialized with very friendly father and daughter, lots of tips on Rome and fun playing for the little ones.
– Parco del Celio/ Villa Celimonotana, just above the Colloseum, 15 minutes with the pram. Green, quiet and with nice surprises such as turtles in a pond and ponneys next to the playground. Our favourite after Borghese.
– Parco Villa Torlonia. Nice residential area, lots of joggers, toddllers and babies.
For more Italia inspiration from us, head here. Within 3 hours drive from Rome, we are fond of Amalfi – head here for Amalfi Coast with a baby. Or even more auhentic, Procida and Ischia for some island hopping from Naples.
For other European cities breaks, check our articles on La vie en rose in Paris with kids; luxury stays in a seafront superb chateau in Marseille; fun and cultural weekends by the sea in Mahon; summer days in Bucharest or Thrills in Copenhagen with kids.