Rome will always be special to me and my husband.
We went there on our first international trip together as newlyweds.
We went there on our last international trip before we had our first child.
We went there with our two sons during our first trip to Italy as a family.
Each time was simply amazing - and each experience got better every time. First, as we became more seasoned travelers. And, then when we experienced the city as a family.
Our time spent together among the ancient ruins, among the pizzerias, among the gelaterias, among the museums, and among the people was incredible. I felt it. My husband felt it. And, so did our kids.
There truly was an air of "la dolce vita" that we greedily breathed in and out as we journeyed from site to site, piazza to piazza. We all relaxed and felt one with Rome with each satisfied breath.
So, what made it so special for us - first as newlyweds and now as parents of two young boys? It was that Rome - and the Romans - seemed to embrace kids in every corner and in every way, making it the perfect place to visit together.
Here are five reasons why Rome is a great city to visit with kids:
1. The waitstaff knows well-fed kids are happy kids. Each time we sat down for dinner in Rome, we knew our sons would never ask "when is our food coming?" At one restaurant, our waitress immediately brought a small bowl of chips for our sons to nibble on as we perused the menu. At the other ones, the kitchen would rush our sons' orders to the table - without us having to make the request. And, they interacted with our kids with smiles and jokes, never being put out at serving a table with two young boys.
2. City sounds mask the noise of two young boys. Rome is alive with music, voices and the bustle of daily life. No matter where we went, there was activity. There was sound. There was energy. And, our boys fit right in. No matter if we we were at the Baci Perugina chocolate shop, a pizzeria near the Pantheon or entrance to the Roman Forum, we fit right in. I never once felt like I needed to ask my sons to lower their voices. Instead, I embraced the fact that they blended into the city - and felt comfortable doing so.
3. The food will please any picky eater. No matter where we went in Rome, I never had to wonder if there would be something for my sons to eat. With menus laden with row after row of pizza and pasta choices, the only challenge was deciding which one to eat! And, of course, there's always the lure of gelato or tiramisu to coax a child into trying something new if needed, too.
4. The city is an outdoor museum. No matter where you go in Rome, you're sure to stumble open history. It's all around you - and often under your feet, too. Yes, you can visit the Roman Forum and Colleseum. But, you also can happen upon ancient ruins just walking back to your hotel. It filled each journey with hidden surprises, allowing our sons to wonder what may be around the next corner, across the river or through a tunnel. And, the best part is often that you can touch history. We hardly ever saw signs saying not to touch a column or ruin. No, our sons' inquisitive hands could feel the history and excite their minds all at the same time!
5. Kids are cherished by all. Walking along Roman streets, we were often stopped by people commenting on our boys. And, much to their chagrin, my sons had their cheeks pinched way too much! But, I still loved the attention bestowed on kids of all ages throughout the Italian capital. You could feel that family was important. That kids were important. That family time together was important. Our kids got special treatment by shopkeepers, waitstaff and others. And, it made them feel pretty special - something that can't be beat.
Have you traveled to Rome with your family? If so, do you think it's a great city to visit with kids? Or, if it's still on your travel wish list, what makes it appealing to you? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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