Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Rome with Middle School Boys- -Do we need a guide? Would they like the Borghese?

Rome with Middle School Boys- -Do we need a guide? Would they like the Borghese?

Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 11:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 187
Rome with Middle School Boys- -Do we need a guide? Would they like the Borghese?

We will be in Rome for two days in June with our 14 and 11 year old boys. We will arrive on a flight from Paris late Tuesday afternoon. We were thinking of dinner and Trevi Tuesday night, then ancient Rome, Cappucine crypt and Spanish Steps on Wednesday. We have already booked a Vatican/St. Peter's tour under the new Reserved Entry rules, for Thursday morning, after which we depart Rome. With boys this age and with a structured tour the next day, I was sort of thinking of doing Wednesday on our own, but the travel agent thinks we might want to hire a guide. I thought it might be nice to rest when they want to rest, get gelato, etc. But, sometimes you really benefit from a guide in knowing when and where to buy tickets, what to skip, avoiding lines, and interesting commentary. I just know boys and too many days of "Now, if you'll just step this way and gaze upon this amazing sight...." may be too much. Also, I have read here and elsewhere how wonderful the Borghese Museum is and would like to go, but would the boys like it? Thanks, Fodorites!
rileypenny is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Hi rileypenny, it is hard to say not knowing your sons. I have one grandson who would have been thrilled to visit the Borghese Gallery at that age. The other grandson would have been polite and not fussed but he would have been bored out of his mind. Just one thought for you. If your husband isn't one to care one way or another about the Borhese Gallery maybe he could do something with the boys and you could visit the Borghese by yourself for the few hours? Moms are entitled to some treats too. Best wishes. Oh, perhaps your husband could take the boys to the Hard Rock Cafe on the Via Veneto while you were at the Borhgese and then you could meet them there afterwards.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 13
If you really think that they will start to complain if you get another tour then I would skip it. The way that I like to do things with my boys on "free" days is over-schedule and then take things as they come (in other words, do a lot of research and have a couple of options and then let the boys and circumstances dictate the day) - going to the colisseum or castel sant'angelo and renting the audio guides has always been a hit with my sons. If you DO want a tour, we did the Underground Rome tour with context (i think) and my son enjoyed himself - we saw nero's golden palace, san clemente, and another underground city - however that was our only guided experience and while it was worthwhile, my sons couldn't have handled more. I personally think you are right to want to keep it flexible that day. Have a great time!
jsklsk is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
The Borghese is mainly centered on sculpture and paintings.

I am going to hazard a guess and say a 14 and 11-year-old will probably be bored with it.

The Trevi, the Colosseum, St. Peters itself..sure.

I agree, sometimes you do benefit from a guide and there are other times when your initial gut reaction is the right one and I would stick with that in this case.
Dukey is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,298
Kids like the TimeElevator in Rome. It's a Disney type "ride" and they will learn a lot about the history of Rome.

Adults might prefer to sit in the static seats.
TravMimi is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,325
Many parents with children have found my travel note "Chills and Thrills in the Eternal City" very helpful: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/rome/chills_thrills.htm
I also have two trip reports on traveling to Rome and elsewhere in Italy with children:
Grinisa is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 09:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
I think that I would pass on another guided tour for your Wednesday. This will let you enjoy and take your time at ancient Rome and also just meander around the streets/areas of Rome.Your boys are going to enjoy the people,culture,history,sounds and food of Rome-its a wonderful place for families.Just promise me that you won't take your boys to the Hard Rock on the Via Veneto-its sooooooooo American,expensive and definitely says tourist!Have fun!
dutyfree is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 10:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 281
A variation on LoveItaly's suggestion, based on my own experiences: if your husband and sons are not into art, the Borghese Gardens themselves are so much fun! With my younger teens we rented these very cool bike contraptions and careened all over the place, with gelato stops along the way. We also rented a rowboat and paddled around in the pond, which sounds cheesey but was a blast. It was hot (July) so we also waded in the fountains. They could do this while you toured the museum (it is small and exquisite and even if you look at every piece slowly you wouldn't be more than an hour and half, with the gift shop!). We found the park a welcome respite from the crowded streets- very few people and a chance to not be dodging vespas! You could do that in the afternoon, and go very early in the morning to the Coliseum. After touring that, online, you can find the directions for walking up into a neighborhood behind the Circus and see the Knights of Malta- the armed guards are pretty exciting and when you look through the keyhole you see the dome of St. Peter's exactly centered- they will remember that for the next day's tour! It took us about half an hour to walk up the hill and actually locate it- we kept asking people "keyhole?" as we went! Just some ideas- sort of an active day "off" that still allows lots of sightseeing. Caveat: if your son(s) DO enjoy art, this is the perfect museum- because it is so small, and because so few people are allowed in at a time, it is a truly intimate experience. You can move at your own pace, and you won't feel the "step this way" forced march.
sglass is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2007, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 120
I second Mimi's suggestion on the Time Elevator. We spent a week in Rome last year when my boys were 11 and 9, and they said it (along with the Colliseum and Pompeii) was one of their favorites places on the trip. We also did Villa Borghese; they liked running around the gardens, but the full museum tour was a bit much for them. I would start Wednesday with the Time Elevator, then do ancient Rome and work from there.
djman102 is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2007, 10:58 AM
Posts: n/a
About the Borghese for boys that age: Instead of being bored, they will probably just be tickled to death by all of the naked sculptures and just be covering up giggles all the way through. This reflection is from a retired middle/high school English teacher who finally gave up on all of those field trips to museums when I was teaching a unit in mythology.

However, there is a sort of train/shuttle thing that you can ride to view the beautiful, extensive gardens and grounds. They might like to do that while you and DH at least view the first floor of the sculpture (paintings are upstairs). I would hate to think of anyone being that close and missing out on the Daphne and Apollo or the Rape of Persephone, or even the young David whirling his slingshot. Hope you make the right choice. jg
Old Apr 4th, 2007, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Give your kids some credit. My kids were 15, 13 and 10 and all were blown away by the sculpture at the Borghese(but were less so by the paintings.)Your time there is limited (is it just one hour?), so it's not like you're going to drag them through there for hours because they won't let you. Rick Steves' commentary is pretty funny, so do the sculpture part with Rick's commentary then leave. Also, it is a fairly short walk to the Capucin crypt, so time it accordingly.

Has the 14 year old read Angels and Demons?
missypie is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2007, 11:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 187
Thanks to all for such thoughtful responses! We have decided to wander on our own and take lots of your other advice. We'll post a trip report when we return.
rileypenny is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2007, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 148
The Borghese is a fabulous museum and could be a great experience for your kids. We just returned from italy with our kids ages 4,7 and 10. They loved the museum. We chose 2 paintings to focus on and they really enjoyed the symbolism and history. We had also spent some time reading Greek myths, so they got a kick out of many of the statues. The 10 year old boy was just thrilled to be surrounded by so much nakedness. i think it would be a great experience for them if you can provide some in depth information(so you don't have to subject them to a tour) and resist the tempatation to stuff their heads with all the information you may know. we learned this the hard way when we went to greece. Your 14 year old could probably participate in some of the research. Regardless of what you choose to do, you'll have a great time. It's hard to mess up Italy.
prhirsch is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 10:31 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 252
I have never been to the Borghese either and are wondering the same thing. What company did you book the Vatican/St. Peters tour with for the reserved entry? thanks.
mauitammy is offline  
Old May 7th, 2007, 12:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 6
Rome With Kids by J.M. Pasquesi http://www.romewithkids.com/
Has been highly recommended. But I'm not sure if it will be available before you're trip.
ferretyface is offline  
Old May 7th, 2007, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,656
As a teacher, I totally agree with misypie and prhirsch. The Borghese is such an exciting place. Preparation is key. Let them go on-line and look up some of the art works they will see. They can print out and read about the artists and they can be your tour guides. They will love the Cappuchin Crypt.
Sassafrass is offline  
Old May 7th, 2007, 10:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,238
Riley-quite frankly? Having been raised in a family of men, and we still have mainly boys, I can tell you for a fact that I DON'T think they will like the Borghese-it was okay, but there is so much ASTOUNDING art in and around Rome to discover on one's own, that I think they will appreciate that FAR more than the Borghese-it is a hike to get up there, you can see Bernini's elephant there by the Pantheon, Bernini is everywhere-why go to a museum to see more?

I would highly advise the wonderful hop-on/off buses of Rome-3 of them, one for sightseeing, the second for the important churches of Rome and the third the Archeobus-it goes to the underground crypts and Appian Way-now the latter is something I think boys would REALLY like, and would be very cool to tell their friends about. You can catch the ARCHEOBUS at Termini-a great, great value at around 15 Euro. Here is the information about all 3 buses from the Rome Tourist Board site:

Girlspytravel is offline  
Old May 7th, 2007, 11:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 971
I travelled to Rome with two boys - one 12 and one 16. The 16yo enjoyed the Borghese, the 12 yo tolerted it. The thing they loved though was hiring the 4 wheel bike things in the Borghese Gardens and riding around for a couple of hours. That combined with a walk from Pincio down through Piazza de Popolo window shopping down via del Corso then to Trevi fountain for gelato turned out to be a great day for all. My kids would not want a guide for the whole day. They like going on guided tours at certain places but they get sick of too much.
aussiefive is offline  
Old May 8th, 2007, 11:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 187
Thanks again to all who have added responses. We did decide to go it alone that day in Rome and have totally incorporated the responses we got here. Borghese is very close to our hotel and is on the "like to see" but not the "must see" list. (I know reservation is required.) The travel agent booked the Vatican Tour and my draft itinerary doesn't show the name of the tour company, but I'll find out and post it.
rileypenny is offline  
Old May 8th, 2007, 02:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 187
Our agent says that she books through Absolute Italy but they typically do not work directly with the public. She would be happy to work with anyone who wants to book a tour only through her. I have not used this agent before, but a friend did and highly recommended her. She tells me that the new reserved entry system has proven difficult for all the tour companies because the Vatican is in control of the process and is still working out the details. Apparently, there is an overbooking problem coming up. The Vatican may have overallocated slots to the approved tour companies, which has resulted in many people not getting their first choice for dates in the first week of June, the only week that has been scheduled so far for June. I am told that it hasn't been an issue recently, but is now becoming an issue as the high season approaches. We requested a date for late June back in late March. We'll see....
rileypenny is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information