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Does your holiday run to plan or does the whole family want diffent things? How to make the most of Rome and avoid family rows
Me: (age 21+) - The fact that there is something new to see around every corner (and practically for free). Great food (mostly). Great style - even the men dress impeccably. Lovely hot sunny days.
Husband: (age 43) Fab Hotel. (Hotel Canada Via Vicenza) The Colosseum and the parks around Villa Borghese. Great food, great atmosphere.
Son (age 11): The Hard Rock Cafe and the Colosseum
Me: We got ripped off by a street vendor (that's modern cities I guess)
Hubby: 1. Lack of transparency in restaurant prices (service charges AND cover charges what's that all about?) 2. Weather - too hot.
Son: Beggars on the street. (Elderly women and disabled people begging on the streets of a European 21st century city and right on the door step of the biggest organised church in the world - shocking and inexcusable)
A number of reviewers will tell you to avoid the guides - we went on a guided tour and although ok it was a bit pricey, we thought it well worth the money. It meant we skipped the queues and our guide was informative, amusing and entertaining. He told us which emporers did this and that, which popes took what, where the vestal virgins sat and where the working girls plied their trade, who and what was slaughtered - how, where, when and why and even what the bathroom arrangements were!
If we'd gone in without the guide we have just been looking at a load of old ruins and when you're with a family who's got time to read long guides
Upon advice we also nipped back on the train later to wander round the area in the dark - great atmosphere, awesome!
So what's it like taking kids to Rome? On the whole my lad loved the trip. It provided some relaxed additions to his studies hence kids can provide loads of background info to the sight seeing. I don't think I'd recommend Rome for younger families with prams etc, but Rome is a modern city with loads of cool sights to keep pre-teens interested. We have to give a mention to the Hard Rock Cafe - his favourite Roman land mark, for goodness sake. We didn't go all the way to Rome to eat in some ubiquitous burger chain, (this is Italy the home of fab food), but hey I guess it was his holiday too. The food was surprisingly good quality and very tasty. The friendly American waitress provided good service and the prices shown on the bill was the price you paid. Thoroughly enjoyed it and the lad was also pleased with the over-priced t-shirt he got from the shop within.
If you're very wealthy Via Condotti, the home of designer shops, is a must - if not, do like I did and go window shopping there to see how the other half live. However, don't do like I did i.e. wear shorts and vest top and drag along grumpy hubby and son ~ boys HATE shopping and this could very nearly ruin your holiday!!!!
Instead gather together a few of your best girly friends, cruise the shops and finish with a lovely long lunch in the Piazza di Spagna. Remember to dress elegantly as there are Armani clad doormen in all the designer shops, presumably to intimidate scruffy gits like us!!!
If you feel the need to cool down why not try the beautiful parks around the Villa Borghese. When we were there (end of May), the park was very relaxed and peacful in comparsion to the city and there was loads of cool shade to keep out of the midday sun. It was a real something for everyone kind of day. Culture vultures will love the galleries statues and architecture. There was a beautiful lake with swans and little turtles swimming in it. We hired a pedal buggy for three to cycle round the park and had lunch in a rather chic cafe and finshed the day with a walk up to the Piazza di Popolo which in my opinion is the most dramatic piazza in Rome - truly awesome!
There are around 280 churches in the city centre of Rome which makes it a bit of a Catholic theme park. The sheer skill and human endeavour to put these architectural beauties together is simply breath-taking. However in terms of these provding a base to represent the wishes of a Humble Carpenter, you gotta be kidding.
Rome is so compact it's pretty easy to do the whole thing on foot. However if you're too tired after all the sight seeing the underground rail system is easy to use - see link above for prices etc. We found the newspaper stands inside the termini to be the best place to buy tickets. Many of the ticket machines in the station were either out of order or really slow to deliver the ticket
Although many Romans speak pretty good English, many didn't. We were pretty glad we'd learned around a dozen or so key phrases and took along a phrase book which was really helpful.
There's so much to see it's well worth reading up a bit of background on some of the key sites. We had the Berlitz pocket guide to Rome which was very portable and gave a quick overview and some background to all the main sights and few less well-known places.
There was an internet cafe on the same street as our hotel and we spied a number of young back-packer types doing their research on the web. Er every day.