We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Canada
Level Contributor
1,407 posts
Save Topic
Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

We are currently planning a week in Rome (some of that will be visiting with family), possibly 2 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Venice. This will be Sept 18-30 and our children are 11 and 13. I am trying to prioritize sites and museums to no overwhelm the kids but also to try to be somewhat cost conscious too. We spent a year in Ireland in 2008-2009 so the kids were exposed to many museums, galleries, ruins all over Europe but we didn't visit Italy that year. So what would be the must do places and what could be left because we are seeing something similar but better in one of the other city. For example is we go the the Academia and Uffizi in Florence, would you skip a place in Rome of Venice.

Also - does anyone have any idea how far in advance the calendar or events for Pope Francis will come out. The timing works out that we may need to go to the Papal Audience Wednesday morning and take the train to Florence in the afternoon. What is the earliest we should book a train. Pope Benedict often had the audience at a different location in August/September. Would this be the case with Pope Francis - as that would definitely complicate things? However if there is a Mass the previous Sunday, that could be a better option.

Rome, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome
Level Contributor
5,735 posts
620 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Hmmm ... I'd definitely want the kid to see the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill (which is one combo ticket) and St. Peter's (the Basilica). For things to "trade" with museums in Florence or Venice, I'm thinking of the Vatican Museums (although absolutely magnificent, the Vatican Museums can be packed and overwhelming even to adults) as well as the Galleria Borghese (ditto).

Some thoughts about alternatives that might be fun for them. If you are adventurous, there's a scooter tour by scooteroma.com and one of the possible stops is going to the famous keyhole, which the kids might enjoy. A lot of kids really enjoy exploring the Castel Sant'Angelo. The cannon gets shot off every day at noon on the Janiculum hill. The Domus Romane at Palazzo Valentini is a fun introduction to ancient Rome and gives you an idea of what ancient Rome used to look like -- and the ruins that lie under most of the modern city. Website is www.palazzovalentini.it/index.php?lang=eng Another idea is exploring the ancient Appian Way -- maybe renting bikes, particularly on Sunday when part of the park is closed to traffic. Website is http://www.parcoappiaantica.it/en/

The papal calendar is at vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/calendar/pa… -- have not heard yet whether he will move out to Castel Gandolfo for the summer. One thing about Pope Francis -- he is keeping everyone on their toes waiting to see what he does next.

Hope this helps!

Australia
Destination Expert
for Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples
Level Contributor
8,739 posts
155 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

A good museum for kids is the Capitoline - it has a bit of everything - art, sculpture, an underground street of tombs, a giant bronze of Marcus Aurelius on his horse, and the head, feet and hand of Emperor Constantine in the courtyard (great for photographs!).

It's also rarely crowded and has a great rooftop terrace and cafe.

Canada
Level Contributor
1,407 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Thanks. We will most likely go to the Vatican Museum, though maybe Friday night if we can figure out night transport back to the Coliseum area. Galleria Borghese is on the maybe list, my husband went with his mom 3 years ago. Thanks for the suggestions - I was looking at biking in the Appian Way, but had not thought of a scooter tour. I will check out the Capitoline museum info.

Pope Francis - as a Catholic I'm glad he is keeping people on their toes waiting. As a tourist ... :)

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,719 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

I expect that the Vatican Museums will be a very trying experience for your kids. The first time I went there was in August, over 15 years ago, when it was a lot less crowded than it is now, and I would never under any circumstances go there in August again. Not only was it unbearably crowded, but it was also unbearably hot inside.

Here is a list of museums that I find particular suited to kids. They are relatively inexpensive, and never crowded, while offering world class art.

The Barberini Gallery, near Trevi Fountain, in a beautiful Renaissance palazzo, has an incredible collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, as well as works from earlier and later periods. It also has one of the most amazing ceiling frescoes I've ever seen, and they provide padded benches so you can lie down and admire it. Cost 7 euros, or, for 9 euros you can get a joint ticket for this and the Corsini Gallery, see below.

At Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, near Termini station, there is a world class collection of ancient Roman art, including sculptures, wall paintings, mosaics, and luxury items, such as jewelry. There is also (maybe interesting to adolescents) the mummy of an ancient Roman child, who was mummified in the Egyptian manner, a very rare thing in Rome. Cost 7 euros, which includes admission to three other sister sites, valid for three days.

The Villa Farnesina, in Trastevere, a Renaissance villa set in a beautiful garden, with lovely frescoes, including some by Raphael. Tickets 5 euros, open only until 2 PM. One of the few museums open on Mondays. On some Sundays, they have special events, combining Renaissance art with Renaissance music. On other Sundays, they're closed.

Corsini Gallery, right across from the Villa Farnesina, is a small museum, but packed with great masters of European art. 5 euros, or you can get a joint ticket with the Barberini Gallery (see above) for 9 euros.

Also, not an art museum, but almost certainly interesting to your kids, is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Piazza del Popolo, with hands-on working models of many of his inventions.

I also agree with other suggestions, such as the Capitoline Museums, which is, however, more crowded and more expensive than most of the ones I've suggested here. I also agree that the Domus Romane under Palazzo Valentini could be very interesting. It's a sound and light show, very well done, in the ruins of an upper-class Roman house, showing what it might have looked like in Roman times.

I'm not convinced that the Uffizi Gallery is a good choice. It's absolutely huge, and very crowded, and almost entirely focused on Renaissance paintings. To give an idea, my daughter and I spent 7 hours there, over two days, and still didn't see all we wanted to see. It might be a bit much of a muchness for kids aged 11 and 13. I think the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, near the duomo, might be more interesting. It has some great art inside, including sculptures by Donatello and Michelangelo, all of which used to be inside the duomo. It also has interesting exhibits about the history of the duomo, especially about the construction of the dome. This museum also has the originals of the famous Gates of Paradise on the baptistery of the duomo; what all the tourists are crowding around to see are modern copies.

Canada
Level Contributor
1,407 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Thanks bvienci, I am looking into your suggestions. Hopefully it won't be too hot when we are there in later September. In Rome, we may be able to do some creative juggling of the kids between DH and myself or possibly leaving them with their grandmother one afternoon, if there is something we want to do without the kids. Though I don't think she will be in town for the Friday night Vatican Museum visit. As far as Florence, it was not even on our original itinerary as I wasn't sure it was the most fun place for the kids. I'd probably pick Pisa over Florence, but it's just more fussing to get there if we only have a day or two between Rome and Venice.

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,719 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

I'm sorry, I must have confused your question with another one, and thought you were coming in July.

The Friday night visits may not be terribly crowded. At least they weren't last year, but not many people had heard of them last year. I would check with a question on this forum in late July, when they've been going on for a few months, to see how crowded they are. If they're pleasantly uncrowded, taking your kids there wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Edited: 09 April 2013, 20:54
Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
1,239 posts
96 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Hi,

My kids are of similar age and even though they are reasonably well travelled but the museum fatigue sets in pretty quickly, specially towards the end of the holidays.

To try somethings slightly off the beaten path but of historical and archaeological interest may I suggest :

1. Capuchin Crypts : may be a bit macabre for you but usually interesting for teenagers. Not too far from Trevi fountain.

tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187791-…

2. The Aqueducts : A hidden gem and perfect for spending a late summer afternoon under the shadows of majestic ruins that stretch on and on. Fairly easily accessible by public transport and probably more enjoyable than cycling on cobble stones of Appia Antica while trying to dodge traffic.

tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187791-…

I think your kids would enjoy Capitoline even if it's crowded as it contains busts, statues and relics of a number of prominent historical figures.

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,719 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Another good activity for adolescents is hiring bikes, go-karts, or bicycle carts at the Villa Borghese gardens. The park is lovely, and full of people on a warm weekend.

Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
1,239 posts
96 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Yes they will enjoy the park.

Just be aware that those bike carts( Riscios) look simple to operate but have a mind of their own and can lead to major disagreement between the driver and the co-pilot.

Sometimes you have to negotiate some traffic and/or Roundabout and the tourists tend to get stuck bang in the middle. And run for your life if you see one hurtling downhill towards you.

The big advantage is the motor pedal assistance for the hilly section but if you are reasonably fit perhaps stick to standard bike rental which is much cheaper.

Canada
Level Contributor
1,407 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Rome, Florence, Venice - museums and sites with children

Thanks, we will try the Villa Borghese gardens and aquaduct park to break up the sightseeing. I checked into the scooters and it is 500 euro for 4 hours - ouch.

I'd been trying to see what we would do if I opted to get the Roma pass for the Coliseum and other sites, as you get the best bang for your (euro), by doing the most expensive ones as your first two. Does it cover your reservation fee if required (as it is mandatory at some places). The Coliseum/Forum etc would most likely be 1st. Options for the 2nd would be Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Capitoline Museums, Castel Sant'Angelo, Domus Romane at Palazzo Valentini or Borghese Gallery. I think they are all covered. Ostia Antica is also covered I believe but I do not know what day we would make it there.

We arrive on a Wednesday and if we validated it Thursday--Saturday, it would mean seeing a site on the Friday and then possibly going to the Vatican Museum that night (not on pass I know, but only night open).