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On our recent visit to Rome we wanted a way to make the city more exciting for our kids. We were so looking forward to rediscovering the Eternal City but wanted to make sure our children had a great time too.
We joined two tours with Rome4Kids and enjoyed our adventures in the city with a kid friendly twist.
Discovering Rome’s marble zoo with Rome4Kids tours
It’s usually the details that make a city exciting for me. And as it turns out, our kids are a chip off the old block. We joined our guide Silvano from Rome4Kids for 2.5 hours of marble animal spotting across central Rome and uncovered secrets and history along the way.
We had covered similar ground that we visited on the tour during a walk a few days earlier. Unfortunately, despite sunshine and bribes, we endured a little too much whining for my taste.
It is fair to say I was very nervous about how successful our tour would be given that experience.
Even in the rain…
And to make matters worse, the forecast was for downpours.
I need not have worried, Silvano had everything under control.
Starting at the Spanish Steps, the kids were handed backpacks, clipboards, pens and a spotting checklist. This was a genius move. Never underestimate the power of a clipboard.
Off we went, winding our way through the streets of the centro storico, spotting turtles, lions, and deer and dodging raindrops.
Marble Zoo tour highlights
This tour covers many of the major sites in central Rome – from the Piazza di Spagna, to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
We even managed to get a clear view of the Trevi Fountain thanks to the rain and learnt all about Bernini’s masterpiece enjoying Silvano’s expertise as an archaeologist.
I particularly liked learning about some more unusual discoveries of Roman symbols and legends.
The total distance is around 2 kilometres and it’s an easy flat walk.
A kids tour with lots for adults too
Our four year old twins were engaged throughout the tour. Silvano managed their energy and attention levels perfectly.
There was even a stop for some of Rome’s best gelato. I guess that wasn’t just for the kids given my well documented love of Italy’s favourite dessert!
The ability to balance fun kids activities with ensuring adults learn about their destination is difficult and the sign of an excellent family friendly local guide. We came away having discovered more about Rome and the kids were happy too.
Visiting the Colosseum with Rome4Kids tours
You cannot miss the Colosseum when you visit Rome right? It’s one of the world’s most popular attractions for a reason. And for that reason it is very busy, even in November when visitor numbers to Rome are easing.
Navigating the Colosseum and the crowds is hard enough without small children in tow, so booking a kid friendly tour was a priority for our family.
As we weaved in and out of the crowds with our guide Katja, I knew I had made the right decision.
Inside and out
Katja is the founder of Rome4Kids and has an infectious passion for family tours. Her company has led family tours of the Colosseum and Roman Forum for many years and it shows.
After meeting outside near the ticket office, Katja ushered us inside the monument quickly and up the lift to the top (yes, there is a lift – I would never have known), pointing out details along the way.
Most people head straight outside to the viewing platforms to get those iconic views but we felt privileged to learn about the interior details of the Colosseum, how it was built and how it has been systematically plundered over the years.
Visualising the past
Viewing a load of old buildings is potentially a hard sell to active four year olds but Katja has quite a few secret weapons up her sleeves.
Using books and an iPad as well as 3D models inside the Colosseum, we could envisage the battles held between gladiators and animals, how the Roman crowds roared and picture the roof being installed overhead.
Finally, as we stepped out onto the viewing levels we almost felt part of a Roman crowd cheering on their champions.
Katja made sure we got that all important family shot – notoriously hard to do when travelling as a family.
On to the Roman Forum
After the Colosseum we made our way to the Roman Forum. Once again, Katja knew the quickest and easiest way to go.
The kids were starting to wilt a bit but we made a stop for some bubble chasing (those buskers are brilliant aren’t they?) and a snack.
At the Forum we learnt about the Roman Empire and the temples that once stood on this site in the centre of Rome. This was a highlight for me as somehow I had missed the Forum when I visited as a student many years ago.
On reflection, I think slightly older children than ours (4 years old) would enjoy the Colosseum tour best. Searching for the marble animals was just right for them. I know there is no way we could have kept them interested and engaged for the 3 hour excursion.
Information about Rome4Kids tours
When you book a private tour, you expect a premium level of service and communication and that’s exactly what we got. We were in constant contact with the Rome4Kids team, making adjustments for rain and a huge unexpected military parade that disrupted traffic.
Take the team’s advice about the tours that are most appropriate for your children’s interests and age groups. They have years of experience tailoring tours for families and know what does and doesn’t work.
At the end of each tour we were given tips and advice about continuing our adventures in Rome. Rome4Kids also provided a fantastic kid friendly guide book with activities and fun facts to keep the memories of our trip alive long after it had ended.
Rome4Kids also runs private and group tours across cities in Europe via Europe4Kids. Having had so much fun on our adventures in Rome, I will definitely book tours with them for future trips.
Thanks to Rome4Kids for hosting our family on these tours for purposes of review. All opinions are our own
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