Firstly, before even thinking about how to fit in two hundred and forty ruins and a couple of churches before lunch, cost should be considered in Rome. Its very expensive – if you are clever and stay in an AirBandB, buy most of your food from supermarkets and get cheaper tickets online to avoid queuing, then you might get away without breaking your budget. Get any ideas, however about sitting down in a cafe to eat your ice cream, or a last day’s lunch out in a square then you can very easily get stung.
Our last lunch in a perfectly nice restaurant in a not-too-crowded square cost €84 for two, which was almost the cost of my ticket there. That included a bowl of pasta, a bowl of soup, a melon and ham starter and a glass of wine – £30 back home, bare-faced robbery in Rome.
Still once you’ve stomped away from the restaurant muttering and shaking your head to find yourself lost in the forum, you might just forgive the city its price. It is of course, extraordinary – extraordinary, but tricky with kids. Ruin fatigue sets in very quickly – as my son said, ‘They’re just stones mum – lots of stones.’ The crowds are huge and unfocussed, the sites vast and complicated and the heat is overwhelming.
There are ways of making it fun and manageable though without spending an endless amount of money on lunch.
This looks enormous fun and the perfect way to illuminate and enjoy the ruins. Tours include training with sword wielding gladiators, a tour of the Catacombs, the Appian Way and the Roman Museum. The perfect way to engage unwilling youngsters.
If you take your children to just one church, make it this one. You descend down ancient carved steps through layers of excavated history; through a Dark Ages Basilica, a Roman townhouse to a pagan temple complete with a rushing underground stream. It’s enormously atmospheric and a wonderful way to view the progression of history.
and Finally, let the older ones loose in Europe’s oldest museum, the Capitoline Museums
A pair of amazing museums linked underground and displaying some of the city’s most iconic statues – there is a kids audio guide, which takes them from underground fountains, to Roman gardens and up and down secret stairs. This was the biggest hit with my son, who enjoyed the sense of adventure and the treasure hunting.