Read Day 1 of 3-Days in Rome with Kids
Read Day 3 of 3-Days in Rome with Kids
Day 2 at a glance:
- 2-hour kid-friendly Colosseum tour – Joy of Rome
- Restaurant for lunch – Mastro Ciccia
- Gelato/biscotti-making class for families – InRome Cooking school
- Quick walk to Piazza Navona and Pantheon; use Mission Rome book
Day 2 in detail:
Morning – Colosseum tour for kids with Joy of Rome – You are still jet-lagged, but someone else is leading your kids this morning so let the cappuccino do its thing and enjoy.
Tip – Should I book a tour? If you can budget for it, hiring a reputable company for a private tour designed especially for kids is a worthwhile investment. You will all benefit from licensed guides who come prepared with books, iPads with interactive apps, scavenger hunt sheets and prizes. I do my part and bring enough hani-sani for half of us.
Joy of Rome is a tour company with stellar reviews, and their tours for families are top-notch and tested. Before your trip, they will let you know when and how to purchase your skip-the-line tickets for your museums, and they will give you site-specific details for your tour to run smoothly. We met our guide, Arianna, outside the Colosseum where my kids immediately warmed up to her. She brought a children’s book with pictures to show the Colosseum as it was 2000 years ago. She told us why it was built and how it got its nickname (its real name is Flavian Amphitheatre).
When it was time to go in, Arianna took us past the “skip the line” line (we didn’t ask questions) and on to the best photo-op spots. Then, it was time to learn about the Colosseum style of “entertainment.” She pulled no punches and my kids were enthusiastically on board, even when she launched into what it must have smelled like in the recently discovered underground animal/gladiator tunnels. Answer: not good. The icing on the cake was when she pulled the kids aside and shooed us parents away for a few minutes. When we returned, the kids knew all about gladiators and acted out a fight scene with our eldest serving as the emperor/moderator. Just like at home. It was an excellent 2-hour tour at the Colosseum. Then, as every adventure should end, Arianna walked us to a nearby gelateria where we re-fueled with some gelato, included in the tour price.
Lunch – Mastro Ciccia – In between your morning and afternoon activities, you will need a break and a good meal. This rustic little restaurant is just steps from Piazza Navona yet feels completely tucked away and untouched by the tourism. You can see the brick-oven from the entrance, and the beautiful built-in shelves lining the walls beckon you in with their rows upon rows of bottles of vino. This restaurant was our first Italian pasta experience and it did not disappoint, even for the gluten-free vegan (me)! However, the most special thing about this restaurant had nothing to do with Italian food or wine. While the rest of us appreciated the exquisite homemade pasta, my picky-eater was able to order a fabulous, juicy American cheeseburger and fries…from their menu! Not even the best diner back in the states could switch gears this well. There is pure genius in the kitchen here. You will fall in love with this gem of a restaurant and wish you could stay for dinner, but you have somewhere else to go, for more eating.
Afternoon – Gelato and Biscotti Making Class for families at InRome Cooking – Food is 3/4 of the reason why anyone goes to Italy. Ok. Maybe it’s more like 4/5. It only makes sense to take a class to find out how to make this edible gold. We chose InRome Cooking school instead of an Italian nonna’s little kitchen in the countryside because half our family has allergies and we felt a larger cooking school might be able to safely accommodate us. InRome is well-regarded with top reviews from around the globe, including a wonderful write-up in the New York Times. They confirmed that they could offer us a nut-free gelato and biscotti making class. We picked our date and time and pre-paid to secure our spot.
Tip – What if I need to cancel? Many of these private tours and classes require a large deposit or even full prepayment. Be sure the payments are made through a secure site. Read the company’s cancellation policy. They often require at least a few days or two weeks advance notice if you cancel, otherwise you will lose your deposit or more. Be sure to keep a record of how much you paid and how much you owe. Further, when you are budgeting for the tours, know that the prices do not include tips. Many of these tour guides are licensed and have passed official exams to guide you. Tourism is their full-time job.
This 2-hour cooking class takes place in a beautiful 17th century palazzo near Piazza Navona. We booked a small group class instead of private because the rate was significantly better and because it was time to be embarrassed by our children in front of others. We were greeted by lovely staff who suited us up with InRome aprons and we were sent to the kitchen. Every appliance and cooking utensil was immaculate and the ingredients were fresh. We worked in pairs and chose to make vanilla, chocolate and strawberry gelato. The kids enjoyed fighting over adding and stirring the ingredients and using the mixer. The chefs (there were 3 on staff) were amiable and funny and most importantly, very patient and helpful with the little ones. While the ice cream was freezing, we all made the dough for the biscotti and rolled it out.
Of course, the best part came next! We all settled at a large table and enjoyed eating our delectable creations and chatting with our new cooking school friends. Then, after eating for 5 straight hours, we rolled out of the palazzo like biscotti dough. You really can’t get more hands-on and authentic than this gelato and biscotti making class in a Roman palazzo!!! The downside is I can no longer bring myself to cook in my non-palazzo kitchen.
Quick walk from cooking school to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon – You are ready to walk off some gelato and hopefully have on pants with an elastic waistband. Piazza Navona is a few steps away and is my favorite piazza in all of Italy. Walk fully around the Fountain of the Four Rivers and have fun with the kids searching the piazza and the fountain for answers to your Mission Rome book quiz questions. The kids can stretch out in this large area free of cars and can run around with some pigeons.
When you are ready, stroll a few blocks to the Roman Pantheon, an ancient architectural masterpiece. Entrance to the Pantheon is free and your Mission Rome book is an ample guide here as well. Admire the giant oculus (you will look at the hole in the roof that provides natural light while your kids look for an octopus) and search for the drainage holes among the intricate patterns on the marble floor.