I just wanted to share with you a few snippets from our half term holiday exploring Rome. This was the first ‘proper’ city break with the children and whilst I knew we’d have a good time, their idea of a holiday is somewhere hot preferably with a beach or pool. Well, this was somewhere hot, with lots of walking and pools they weren’t allowed to jump in. We had two full days and Rome didn’t disappoint.
We stayed in a hotel just around the corner from the Pantheon, which meant we were in the middle of the city and all its vibrancy but our room was quiet and cosy. We didn’t plan on doing too much but we did aim to see the main sights. This meant slowing down to the pace of the children and giving them the opportunity to play in the squares, potter in the toy shops and press their noses against the windows of the gelato parlours. The wonderful thing about Rome is that taking your time, and stopping for lots of coffee (the grown ups) and juice and snacks (the little ones) in the piazzas are all part of Italian life; soaking up the atmosphere, people watching, perhaps the odd game of Dobble.
We meandered past the Pantheon, pausing for a quick look inside, it’s oculus like a spotlight, drawing the eye up to the worlds oldest unreinforced concrete dome. Back outside the children admired the touristy horse-and-carts and street hawkers selling their plastic tat, whilst we admired the architecture and pondered how it must have looked first built and encased in marble.
Slowly we continued gently on to the Vatican via Castle Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), a hodge podge of extensions, renovations, alterations and never ending tinkering, making it seem rather discombobulated but still impressive. We did not go into the Vatican, but rested in the shade of St Peters Square and explained to the children who lived in the Vatican and what it represented. Our final visit of the day was the Trevi Fountain, coins were cast wishes were wished.
On the second day we headed to the Colosseum. It was hot and busy but less hectic than the reviews had lead me to believe (we did purchase our tickets the day before, but we still had to queue for a little while, and we had an umbrella for shade as there is little cover outside the Colosseum). I think the children were suitably impressed with the history, the grandeur and the Roman Soldiers on parade outside. It is strange to see them building a new metro line right next to the ancient arena, and the number of archaeological finds it has thrown up is astounding (google it). But I guess that’s just it – the new and old rub alongside each other, the many layers of Rome fascinate – the food, the culture ‘where Fascist architecture meets classic Renaissance, where the ancient bangs up against the contemporary. It has a touch of everything..’.
Our final stop were the Spanish Steps. The children loved counting all the steps and exhausted themselves running up and down. We sat at the top, appreciating the view as the sun set over the Eternal City. We barely touched the surface of all Rome has to offer. There are still plenty of museums, tours and attractions to do as the children get bigger and by not over stretching ourselves we all enjoyed our mini break. Of course there was some moaning and bribery but it gives us confidence that children will usually exceed your expectations and given the chance immerse themselves in new culture and language.
When we got home we asked the children what they liked best about their trip to Rome and their answers surprised me; The Trevi Fountain (we had to go back a couple of times) and the Spanish Steps. Oh. And the ice-cream of course. Always the ice-cream.