A Summer Family Holiday Exploring Rome
We just returned from a wonderful, albeit brief, family trip to Rome to give our children the gift of seeing the city that carries so much of the world’s history inside its walls and people. Outside of Florence and the Tuscany region, Rome is the second most requested city our clients make time to explore while in Italy. So, given that I was heading there for a summer holiday with my family, I thought I would take some notes along the way of all our highlights. Hope you gather some ideas for your next journey. As a family, we believe you can truly explore Rome in about three days. We were there five days and even snuck away to Florence for a whirlwind art history experience for the children. So, if you find your way to Florence and Tuscany, just add three or so more days and soak in the antiquity and beauty of Rome, it is endless and spectacular.
There is no shortage of historical resources on Rome, but we decided to opt for a kid friendly version of Rome that our children could comprehend as they traveled back in time on our recent visit to the ancient Italian city of Roma. We recommend checking 10 Fun Facts About Ancient Rome For Kids and Discover Ancient Rome as good resources.
- Harry’s Bar: A quintessential version of the famous Harry’s Bars in Venice, Lake Como, Florence and in other places around the world. Great dining and a great place to grab a martini and an outdoor table.
- Pierluigi: This is one of our favorite restaurants, very near the Pantheon. They are known for their fresh fish options, but we love it just as much for its quaint location down a side street and al fresco dining area within a lovely courtyard.
- Pizzeria Emma: Outstanding pizza! We also stumbled upon a Roman favorite that soon became our own favorite…suppli (or rice balls) made with risotto, tomato sauce, egg and deep fried. They are worth the try.
- Pizzeria San Marco: This was our second time at Pizzeria San Marco, having been four years ago as well and it did not disappoint. In fact, we made two trips there with our kids this trip. They also offer their pizzas calzone style (enclosed or enveloped dough with all the goodness within).
Places to grab an appertivo (pre-dinner drink):
- Hotel de Russie – The Stravinskyj Bar: Drinks in the centra garden, ideally in the summer months, where you can sit outside in the mild, humid warmth of the evening.
- Grand Hotel della Minerva: Gorgeous views of the Pantheon and less than a block away.
- Raphael Hotel: You will need reservation to access the rooftop bar/restaurant.
Things to do:
I have included most of the tour groups we used on our most recent trip, who were fantastic and very knowledgeable. Others that we just visited and acted as our own guides, I included some historical information:
No matter how many times you see this structure, I never cease to be amazed and awestruck at its history and grace. We were fortunate to see it just after its unveiling, after four years and $27 million dollars worth of cleaning…apparently sometimes with toothbrushes!
Great people watching. Great place to take a photo. And an ideal setting to throw a coin and make a wish.
The Pantheon still defies all understanding of architecture and reason. It is a small building in comparison to many other structures throughout Rome, but massive in ingenuity and stature.
Sadly, the steps were off-limits while we were there for cleaning, but they are gorgeous and grand, nonetheless. The best view, in my opinion, is from below looking up at the majestic walkway.
Palatine Hill / Capitole Hill
You can certainly walk through these ruins, meandering through pillars of ancient marble, but you can also take in its architecture and history from above.
The Vatican / St. Peter’s Cathedral
My favorite piece in St. Peter’s Cathedral is Michelangelo’s Pieta sculpture. It is extremely moving and peaceful, while very sad and emotional. Make sure to go downstairs to see the tombs of all the previous Popes. It sounds creepy, but is actually very beautiful and serene.
Not much to write about here, since the beauty is what you see when you are there. I still find it hard to believe that painting was Michelangelo’s second favorite medium, behind sculpting. The Sistine Chapel forbids conversation, so be sure to do your homework before you enter these painted walls.
Historical gelateria. Yes, they are everywhere, but this one has been around sine 1900 and the lines are typically pretty long, so they must be doing something right.
Great people watching, fun at night with all the artists, locals selling their wares, and of course, the invasive trinket selling vendors.
Hotels we like:
- Hotel Eden: Located at the top of the Spanish steps, the Hotel Eden is elegant with small juliet balconies. Currently under renovations but should be lovely when completed.
- Hotel Regina Baglioni: It is located close to the Spanish steps on Via Veneto and within waking distance ofmany shops and restaurants.
- Raphael: A beautiful, vine-covered hotel located on a side street offering gorgeous rooftop views of Rome and within just a block of the Piazza Navona.