“Rome!” The children chorused when we told them where we were going on our summer holiday. “Brilliant, we finally get to see the Colosseum”. At the tender ages of eleven and nine, our two were finally going to fulfill a lifelong ambition to visit the eternal city and one of the greatest archeological and historical sites in the world. They don’t know how lucky they are.
We stayed at the four star Ariston Hotel, which is located opposite it’s more traditional sister, Hotel Morgana, and near Rome’s main Termini railway station. The area is busy and vibrant and whilst not the most beautiful area of Rome is ideally situated to enable walking to every main site in the city. Vatican City, however, is a short taxi ride away across the river. The Ariston and Morgana belong to the same group as The Inn at the Spanish Steps and the Inn at the Roman Forum – as such the element of excellent service runs through both hotels and nothing is too much trouble for the friendly and accommodating staff. A cosy bar and the breakfast restaurant serve the hotel perfectly and many of Rome’s abundant restaurants are a hop, skip and a jump away. The rooms at the Ariston are contemporary and roomy – we had a family room with accommodation split by the bathroom. It was perfect for a family stay in a city centre hotel allowing the whole family to be together but with enough space to ensure we weren’t on top of each other.
We wanted to cram in as much in as we could during our two days in Rome so we did not stop and the city did not disappoint as a cultural and fun family destination. We knew we had a week by Lake Bracciano, just north of the city, to enjoy some r and r after our city break so we made the most of our time. First stop, Vatican City!
We knew the Vatican would be a lot to take in for our two children so we decided to book a private tour guide. We were recommended and recruited the expertise of Nicole Ciceroni – a native Roman, historian and archaeologist. She is amazing – not only did she pace the tour perfectly, gauging everyone’s interest and energy levels (on a searing hot day) she pulled out every interesting fact possible to engage and interest the children and even stopped for a drink exactly at the right moment! The Vatican is fascinating – an historic and archeological masterpiece – and you could spend hours there. Nicole guided us perfectly and enabled us to make the most of our Vatican experience. Did you know that Michelangelo had a little dog that he painted into many of his frescos, including some in the Sistine Chapel?
The Colosseum did not disappoint and after a self guided tour with handy handsets and lots of discussion about some of the more gruesome of historic facts we moved onto the Roman Forum. From up above it was fascinating to see the layout of the old city and to imagine the hustle and bustle that went on there 1000s of years ago. For the first time, the children were able to visualise history and gauge some idea of the magnitude of the Roman civilisation.
Rome is a great walking city so we enjoyed wandering through the tiny, and larger, streets taking in the architecture, the buzz and of course, many gelatos! Our daughter’s favourite spot was the Trevi Fountain and we were all in awe of the Pantheon and the fact it is still standing – a feat of ancient architecture indeed. We strolled through the Borghese Gardens but weren’t brave enough to let ourselves loose on a Segway! We peeked at the Inn at the Spanish Steps and its boutique Via de Condotti location – sadly there was no room for us but retreating back to the tranquillity of the Ariston was extremely welcome after a long, hot day of exploration.
Rome is a fabulous city for any age to explore – we did not cover everything although we certainly tried our best and would certainly love to return. For more information on any of the hotels or visiting Rome, please get in touch.