It is fair to say that Rome isn’t a cheap city and as a result, it probably isn’t a good idea to expect to find the bargain of the century here. Having said that, there are some bargains to be had if you know where to look, particularly when it comes to decorative items and leather goods. In addition many people happily spend time window shopping. It’s a great Rome for Kids – Plenty for All Ages
When it comes to visiting Rome its good news for kids, after all it’s full of pizza and gelato and in traffic free squares kids can run freely and chase pigeons whilst parents enjoy a cup of coffee al fresco. But once they’ve filled their faces with ice cream and pizza, what’s there to do, to keep them amused. Here’s a selection of a few of the most popular activities:
Hands on Fun
Top of the list of things for kids to do in Rome has to be Explora, the Rome Children’s Museum. This is a brilliant hands on museum designed for children. It’s split into 4 sections, Society, Me, Environment and Communication aimed at helping kids to discover the world. They can wander around exhibitions including a mock supermarket and gas station touching everything and anything. There’s also a large soft play area for younger children.
Blast from the past
Take a thrilling ride on the 4 dimensional flight simulator at Time Elevator Roma which is near Piazza Venezia. You’ll be hurtled through 3000 years of Roman history on this one hour journey, with some breath taking effects which gives you a tour of the city and its monuments at the time of Julius Caesar. You head into a movie theatre with roller coaster seats; once you’re buckled up and the lights dim, your adventure begins. Chased by wolves you dive into a time tunnel to see Julius Caesar meet an untimely death. Then you fast forward to gladiator fights in the Coliseum and watch Michelangelo at work in the Sistine Chapel. A quick dash on to the baroque fountains of Bernini and on to modern Italian times. With air conditioned surroundings, it’s also a welcome respite from the heat of the day.
Villa Borghese is another great place to visit with something for all to enjoy. You can visit the smallest cinema in the world, Cinema dei Piccoli and take a look at the San Carlino Puppet Theatre on the Pincio Hill. There’s also a small train running around the park. Part of a visit to Villa Borghese could include Rome Zoo, called the biocarpo, which has lots of specialist areas just for children.
A great favourite with Roman teenagers is the LunEUR. This is the only amusement park in Rome and one of the oldest and largest in Italy. First built in 1953 to form part of an agricultural show, it became an amusement park in 1962 and now contains more than130 attractions.
Out of town
About an hour’s drive north of Rome can be found the Monster Park at Bomarzo, which if you have the time, is a place that all kids enjoy. The Renaissance style garden is full of large stone monsters and animals which children can climb on and have their photo taken.
Mouth of Truth
No trip to Rome would be complete without visiting the Mouth of Truth. If you all watch the film ‘Roman Holiday’ before arriving in Rome, then you can re-enact the scene with each child putting their hand in the ‘Mouth’. If their hands aren’t ‘ripped off’ then you can be sure they’ve been telling you the truth. Or have they? Kids love this simple ‘game’ and it raises plenty of giggles.
The Trevi Fountain
All kids love water, so why not embrace tradition and get them to throw some coins into the water to ensure their return to Rome some time.
Finally, if the heat is making everyone a little grouchy, why not head on down to Hydromania which features a giant wave pool and a slide which is advertised as the fastest in Italy. There’s also another water park at Tivoli, called Aquapiper, which is a short drive east of Rome
past time and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Similarly to other continental countries such as Spain and France, shops are open in the morning to early afternoon. They then close until later afternoon where they open again until the evening. So 9am until 1pm and 4pm until 8pm is pretty much the norm in this part of the world. Shops do not open on Sundays or public holidays, so you will need to keep an eye out for these. Commercial shopping centres are generally open all day Monday through to Saturday. It is also worth noting that most independently run shops tend to take a two week break sometime in August, so again keep an eye out for this also.
What to find and where
If you are looking for small independent fashion boutiques (of which there are many in the city) you should head for the area around the Piazza di Spagna. For designer stores such as Gucci, Prada, Fendi and Armani, then head for the Via Borgognona. If you are into quality antiques then there are some fairly prestigious ones around the Via Margutta, Via del Bambuino and the Via del Corso. All of these are within spitting distance of the Piazza di Spagna.
The city of Rome isn’t exactly short of markets and the largest and probably the most well-known is the Campo de Fiori. It’s the oldest market and here you will find fresh fish and seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables stacked high, and a great selection of spices and herbs. In addition you can also buy your kitchen utensils, a great selection of tablecloths and even toys for the kids. Porta Portese is the main flea market in the city and is open every Sunday from 6.30am -2pm. This is located in the Trastevere quarter of the city and does get pretty busy with people looking for a serious bargain. Haggling is a given! The Mercantino de Partigiani is a relatively small flea market held in a garage basement. However it specialises in memorabilia, furniture and clothing from the 1940’s to the 1950’s. This is open on the first Sunday of every month except August.
Second hand shops
The Italians love second hand clothing stores as old is most definitely cool. Stocks of old style jeans from the 60’s and 70’s can give you that retro look a la Paco Raban. You can also buy ‘dead stock’. These are clothes that are old in style, but have never been worn and these are very sought after. Some of the best second hand stores are Seconda Mano, Abiti Usadi and Mado, all of which get very busy.