Monday, March 24, 2014

Rome with Kids: Villa Borghese

"Spring is nature's way of saying,  'let's party!' Robin Williams

Rome can be a challenging city to visit with young children. Especially if you are still using strollers as the main method of transportation for the kids.  The cobble stone roads can be a bit difficult to navigate but mostly, because the art and history this city has to offer can drastically differ from the idea of a fun destination on the eyes of little ones.

Now, there is always a positive spin to any situation, like telling them the stories of the Roman Gods represented on the sculptures or about how animals used to be brought to the Colosseum for public entertainment.  I had my boys read Lonely Planet's "Not-For-Parents, Rome, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know" by Klay Lamprell.  At least when we toured Rome, they had a better idea of what they were seeing.

You can always promise gelato as a reward for good behavior during church and museum visits.  But at the end of the day, if you need to sit for a while and let them run around, consider visiting Villa Borghese, the equivalent to Central Park in Rome.

Villa Borghese is a vast park that sits north of the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo (to learn more about Piazza de Popolo click here).  It's easily accessible by public transportation lines 52, 53, 217 and 920.  On any given day you will find bicycles, carts and segway rentals at several points of the park (Rolling around for an hour on a segway will cost you 15 euros and a cart or bike rental is 5 euros per hour, very affordable!).  The segway ride is a fun activity for kids of all ages, including my mother.  If she can segway, so can you!  

If you are already there, don't leave without taking some nice photographs from the Pincio terrace (just above Piazza del Popolo), from where you get a wonderful view of the city center.

On the opposite side of Villa Borghese, you will find the zoo, another family-friendly destination inside the park.  And since you've been so good with the kids, now it's your turn for some cultural activities, visit the Galleria Borghese, a private museum located in the grounds Villa Borghese, which was original a private vineyard that was expanded by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V.  Galleria Borghese houses the art collection of Cardinal Borghese and some contemporary exhibitions too.  It's well worth the visit.

You will also find several fountains, a lake, a movie theater and countless sculptures.  It's really handy to rent some sort of wheels to see it all.  Or you can do as some Romans do and run through the park to burn some of the calories you may have been racking up.


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