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Alone in Rome with 3 kids (Dec 2014)...Help!

Alone in Rome with 3 kids (Dec 2014)...Help!

Old Dec 7th, 2014, 11:41 PM
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Alone in Rome with 3 kids (Dec 2014)...Help!

Hi all! We are from the US, but we are fortunate to have the chance to live in Switzerland for the next 2 years. This is my children's first abroad experience (ages 6, 8 and 11) and I have now planned a last minute trip for them to Rome...leaving this weekend!
We will be staying at the Westin Excelsior which is near the Villa Borghese gardens and Piazza de Spagna (from website). As I will be alone with them and my boys will have low tolerance for all day museums hopping, I am thinking that I will keep my days very flexible! Here is a brief sketch of our itinerary and if anyone can make suggestions, I would most appreciate it! I would also love to get suggestions for some kid-friendly restaurants....would love to avoid the touristy restaurants (maybe hard to do since we are staying central?) and I already know that a lot of restaurants don't open for dinner until 7pm (plan to fill up on late afternoon gelato).

Sunday, Dec 14th-arrive in Rome at 2pm. Catch cab to hotel, rest and explore streets around hotel. Maybe try Pinsere for a late afternoon snack? Would like first-night dinner recommendation in walking distance.

Monday-Colosseum tour in morning with private guide and considering Forum/Palatine Hill in afternoon if kids are not exhausted/cold. (not sure of time needed to explore these places).

Tuesday-St. Peter's Basilica in AM. Vatican Museum with private guide in pm. Try Pizzarium for lunch?

Wednesday-Christmas market at Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain. Try Pastificio for lunch?

Thursday-Borghese garden and ?museum.

Friday-leave after lunch. Any suggestions again?

Thanks again in advance!
Valerie
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 01:06 AM
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Trevi fountain is covered in scaffolding, so you might want to skip walking over there. You are staying so close to the Spanish Steps, you might want to make it your first stop. By the time you actually get into Rome proper and check into your hotel, it will nearly be dark. Maybe a stroll to the Spanish steps and then joining the passeggiata along the via del Corso will be enough. Your group may not be able to keep its eyes open once it gets dark to sit through an Italian meal, which is usually a fairly draggy multi course affair. You might want to ask your hotel for a recommendation for the nearest best pizzeria. (They are huge so don't order 4.)

Right now, the weather forecasts are pretty favorable once you get past Sunday, with mixed clouds and sun, fairly comfortable temps, only a chance of sprinkles here and there. However that could change. I think you need to line up more indoor activities as back ups. One might be the marble carver on the via Margutta ( La Bottega del Marmoraro) or the Trionfale covered food market. Another might be, depending on who your kids are, the shop where you can find out from a a perfume expert which would be the best scent to wear (Olfattorio). http://www.lifeinitaly.com/tourism/lazio/olfattorio.asp There is a new small museum of video games near the Castel Sant'Angelo (you'd have to google it up). But in general I think you need to buy a book about "Rome for Kids" or google up that info and see what would work for your family. Your schedule is light on activities, indoor and outdoors.

What time is your Vatican Museum tour? Pizzarium is right across from the entrance, but there is nothing else around there, and there is no place to sit in Pizzarium. If the timing works out that you can eat some slices for lunch and then go directly to your tour, great. But if you will have a gap between lunch and the tour, then I suggest you pick someplace else for lunch.

I would be less concerned about where to eat than about getting enough targets of interest, a mix of rest and play and sightseeing, and figure out what to do once it gets dark every day. Gelato is really too cold this time of year. You might try lining up some hot chocolate joints instead. The kids might enjoy Caffe Greco or the Gran Caffe La Caffeteria. But you probably will find that the best place to eat is wherever is closest when you need a place to sit down and get fed.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 01:35 AM
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Consider taking your kids to this museum, maybe instead of the Galleria Borghese, or in addition to it:

http://en.centralemontemartini.org/i...oria_del_museo

There are also underground sights in Rome, crypts and catacombs, that they might think are cool and which will keep you dry if it rains.

One more tip is that you will really need to be a demon about double checking what is open at what hours in winter. Learning to take the bus and tram will also be a help in not exhausting the kids, plus it is fun to whizz around Rome on the buses and trams. (Use a money belt, don't keep your wallet in your purse.) Rick Steves' guidebooks are often touted for having extremely good practical information, generally up-to-date.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 03:45 AM
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Only you know your own kids - but IMHO you have ana awful lot of adult stuff and not much for kids.

I would think they need some time to run around - perhaps in some of the pedestrian piazzas while you are having a coffee or wine in a cafe. Rome is not likely to be too cold for them to run around - you just need to find some places that are pedestrian friendly.

I would definitely plan on some time exploring the Borghese gardens since it says it;s near your hotel (I'm not familiar with exact location of the WEstin) and I would ask the concierge for the location of some local playgrounds the kids could spend an hour.

Also, before they go make sure you give them some info on Rome that will inform the sightseeing - for instance if they are not familiar with gladiators, etc - and the ancient nature of the monuments - do give them some info.

One thing I saw a parent doing that was interesting - in the Forum - was help the kids identify things that were similar in current and ancient Rome - for instance checking out the initials on the manhole covers, pointing out the palaces and apartment houses that Rome was full of
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 03:48 AM
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There is a small ice skating rink near Castel Sant'Angelo by the river - might be fun to say you skated in Rome!

http://www.italiannotebook.com/local...-skating-rome/
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 06:04 AM
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It is never too cold for gelato!
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 06:31 AM
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Pinsere is open only weekdays and only for lunch.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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Museum and crypt of Capuchins. Your boys will think it is cool. It is also interesting, history wise.

Climb up to the cupola in St Peter's.

Google "Rome with Kids", "Rome For Kids", and "Kids in Rome." You will find dozens of tips, blogs, guides, etc.

Assuming you will come by train, there is a book store in the station that has an English section. I know there have been some books written for kids to use for exploring Rome. They might have some. Just be sure to watch luggage while you are looking at books.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 06:46 AM
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The Vatican Museum could be a snooze-fest for your little ones. Having a guide will make it worse, as the kids will be expected to pay attention. Might be a recipe for disaster.

St Peter's Basilica will probably interest them, though. Read up on it and be your own guide(s).

Maybe you could make two days of the Colosseum and the Forum, if the weather cooperates. Here, I recommend a guide who can bring those places to life. I think these sites will capture the imagination of your kids. (Be sure to point out the 'vomitorium')

It's more than a pizzeria, but it's very casual and good: the Maccheroni Ristorante at Piazza delle Coppelle, 44, phone 06 68307895. It’s very popular with locals and gets very busy. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is lively and interesting.

Don't underestimate the fact that it's very difficult to find food mid-day, so be prepared.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 07:48 AM
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I don't find the neighborhood of the Excelsior all that interesting for kids. At least the hotel is large and will be fun to explore for an hour or two. They have a small pool and fitness center. There should be other kids in the hotel. Those are all pluses.

I'd trust their concierge with restaurant recs. If you're frank and tell them what you're looking for, they'll steer you in the right direction. The Excelsior is a kid-friendly place. That neighborhood is not a foodie destination.

IMO, the Colosseum is a riveting experience. If you can get the Underground Tour, even better. Private tours can take 2-4 hours each, but as the customer, you can control that. Knowledgeable tour guides are a great resource for fun food spots. I've done the Colosseum and the Palatine on the same day. It's a long day of standing and listening, but being outdoors and seeing the views makes the experience fun and tolerable. A lot will depend on the weather.

I'm not a fan of doing St. Peter's and Vatican Museums on the same day with teenagers. Been there, done that too many times. With St. Peter's, I'll schedule a Scavi tour, and I'll do those on a separate day. The Vatican Museums are too vast and too brain numbing, especially with a great guide. Four hours there is enough intensity for one day.

The Borghese Museum is one of my favorites, but I don't think of it as kid-friendly. Much will depend on the interests and curiosity of your children. Parks and gardens in December hold limited appeal for me. If the weather is fabulous, which is quite possible, then I might opt to stay outdoors and stroll.

Try not to overwork the tour stuff. Take time for leisure and being in the moment. You tend to find a lot of young folk shopping on Via die Giubbonari and hanging out and playing soccer at Campo dei Fiori. If I were traveling with kids your age, this is the area I would call home.

Good luck.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 08:26 AM
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We stayed at the Excelsior last year for 2 weeks over Christmas/New Years. There are a few nice, affordable places for dinner well within walking distance. La Bruschetta is just 'up' the block and around the corner on Via Sardegna. Small, family owned and we had two good experiences. Tempo Bacco is also less than 2 blocks away - a bit more upscale than Bruschetta but very good. Pommodorino has good pizza and also does take out if you're not keen on waiting and sitting. If they are craving American burgers, there is hard rock right down the street from the Excelsior. You will be in Rome at a wonderful time - the lights are beautiful and the Prescepi are amazing. If you want to take a look at my trip report, it was filed on 1/16/14.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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<i><font color=#555555>"there is hard rock right down the street from the Excelsior."</font></i>

I've never been to a Hard Rock Cafe. I break out in a rash just thinking about entering a place like that. However, expats tell me this is the best place in Rome for a fabulous cheeseburger. I love a great cheeseburger, but I've never had a craving for one while visiting Italy. I suppose if a craving struck, I'd toss my aversion and give the Hard Rock a try. If I had three hungry boys in tow, I wouldn't hesitate.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 09:15 AM
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I'm smiling at the mention of Hard Rock Cafe. 10 years ago we spent 2 months in Rome in an apartment in Trastevere. Our delightful neighbours were an American couple with two kids from Tuscon, living in Rome for 3 years. One night we all decided we needed nachos - and concocted "The Nachos Project" (which was also the "Margarita Project"). The one ingredient we couldn't find was sour cream - however a quick call to HRC solved that. The manager said they sold a lot of sour cream to expat Americans! (probably not now)
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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The kids are too young for Scavi - I think they have to be 15 or something to visit. Agree that the Vatican Museum will be a lot for them unless you hit just a very few high spots (I've seen kids enthralled by the laocoon - when they knew the story and the map corridor). They are more likely to be interested in the Dome of St Peter's and the Castel Sant Angelo (lots of exploring ancient rooms, cannon, secret passages, etc).
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 09:56 AM
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How about a visit to the Explora Children's museum which could be a welcome break from antiquities for your younger children. Near the Borghese.

https://www.mdbr.it/en/programmazione/
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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Another museum that would probably interest kids is the Leonardo da Vinci museum, in Piazza del Popolo. It has a number of working hands-on models of his inventions, and display models of others.

I think both the Borghese Gallery and the Vatican Museums are likely to be tedious for your kids, since you've already hinted they have little patience for art museums. There are lots of other art museums in Rome that are less crowded. I think most kids would find the Doria Pamphilj Gallery fascinating; it has some art masterpieces, but it's also fascinating to see the rooms and long galleries where the powerful Doria Pamphilj family lived during the Renaissance. It's still owned (and partially inhabited) by descendants of the family. Admission includes an excellent audio guide narrated by member of the family, where he mentions roller skating with a cousin when they were children, in the grand mirroredt
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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(Accidentally hit submit)

... In the grand mirrored gallery.

Also, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is not overly large, and has one of the world's best collections of ancient sculpture. The Barberini Gallery has an outstanding collection of Italian Renaissance paintings; it also has an amazing ceiling fresco, with padded benches so youcan lie down to admire it without getting a crick in your neck. Both are inexpensive (under €10 for adults and kids free), never crowded, and centrally located. You can leave when the kids have had enough, and won't feel that you've wasted a lot of time and money.

I think the Villa Borghese park is great if the weather cooperates; you can rent bikes go-karts, or bicycle carts there. I also agree that Castel Sant'Angelo might be fun. There are great views od Rome from the upper terrace of Castel Sant'Angelo, especially towards sunset, and there is also a bar where you can get a snack or a light meal.

I don't get the fascination of the Capuchin Crypt but if your kids like the macabre, they might find it entertaining. I fail to see any historic interest, though.

I feel that the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill really benefit from a good guide, while the Colosseum, with its excellent signs in Italian and English, is easy enough to see on your own.

In general, I would try not to see too much, and get your kidsinvolved in
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 10:54 AM
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Another "fat finger" submission.

...get your kids involved in the decisions.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 11:00 AM
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We were dragged to the Hard Rock Café in Washington by an Italian teenager a few years ago, when I was there for a conference. I must say it was not what I expected. It had a very hippy 60s environment, with music that was nostalgic for someone my age. The food was not at all bad, and the prices were reasonable. It was really a restaurant rather than a fast-food place.
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Old Dec 8th, 2014, 12:23 PM
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Thanks for all your suggestions! I do have the Rome Family guide but a lot of the suggestions for children seemed take place outdoors and given that it is my first time too, I wasn't sure what Rome would be like in the winter.

I am a bit confused about Sandralist's comment that my schedule was 'light' on activities/schedule....given that I am alone with 3 young children, I thought it best to have just a basic framework of what area in Rome I want to be and then leave the 'schedule' free for exploring, depending on energy level. Also, I leave for Rome in a few days so the task of filling in all the 'must-see' spots is daunting and thus, I came here for help! Will definitely rethink the Borghese museum and check out Castel Sant'Angelo and Leonardo Da Vinci museum instead. I know that I probably won't check off as many 'must-sees', but I'm ok with that. An afternoon 'wasted' at the Westin pool is probably going to be on my list too....

Re: the Vatican museum, I did book a private guide and he is fully aware of the situation...hope he will keep the kids' interest up enough for us to make it through the tour or is that even unrealistic? I'm thinking that since this is a tour for just our family, we will be able to adjust the tour accordingly.

Smiling re: the suggestion regarding the Hard Rock Cafe....given that my kids have been in Switzerland for the past several months, they are missing American food SOOOO much! Brilliant suggestion....will have to make time for it! There is no decent burger to be found here in CH and I haven't even started on the exorbitant price of beef here!

Thanks again and will be glad to hear of any more recommendations!
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