ITALY embodies history, renaissance and has 47 World Heritage sites and treasure of masterpieces. We took off to Italy in the last week of June and had booked our train tickets too while planning the itinerary. Train fares in Europe keep on changing so sooner u book the better. The trains in Italy are relatively cheap as compared to other European countries, visit TRENITALIA website. We planned our itinerary keeping the travel capacity of our son in mind and STOLLER is one important thing to pack if travelling with kids.
TRAVEL TIP…DO CHECK THE FESTIVALS HAPPENING DURING THE VISIT AND BOOK TICKETS IN ADVANCE.
ROME-We arrived from New DELHI to Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinc which is 30 km from the city.There are different ways to get to the city- trains ,buses,taxis which have a set fare. We took the most comfortable, train LEONARDO EXPRESS which runs to Roma Termini which is the main station in 30 mins.TRAVEL TIP FOR FAMILY-MOST OF THE TIMES WHEN STAYING IN EUROPE SHOULD ALWAYS TAKE THE ACCOMMODATION NEAR THE CITY CENTRE OR PLACE WHERE COMMUTING TO THE VISITING SITES IS EASY ESPECIALLY WHEN WITH KIDS AS IT IS ALWAYS A BETTER IDEA TO SAVE COMMUTING TIME. We had booking at Best -Western Hotel which was a 3 min walk from Roma Termini which we did and was greeted with ‘buonasera’(good evening) from the hotel staff. That evening we just relaxed and my husband decided to get in some pizzas from nearby eatery. I guess that was the best pizza I ever had ,I don’t know whether it was hunger or the flavours.
EATING IN ITALY-One has to understand various places to eat before entering. RISTORANTE-formal service ,fine dining, have several courses. TRATTORIA -a family owned version of restaurant,more warm, relaxed service with regional specialities(my favourite throughout) OSTERIA-is more focussed on wine bar type with few dishes. PIZZERIA-A great place to a have a go-to meal with chilled beer but with a long queue. (Be sure of the the timings of the place).But as they say ‘when in Rome do as Romans do ’so at least we tried to eat and drink like locals. Also there are lot of options for kids .
TIP FOR FAMILY-Wherever is the check- in in Rome, always look for a grocery store or CARREFOUR stores to pack in fruits ,sandwiches,pizza by the slice, juices etc for the day especially when with kids .We started fresh the next day after a nice breakfast, took METRO from termini (line B) to Colosseum.One can purchase the Roma pass valid for 48 to 72 hours that can be used for metro ,bus. Kids under 10 years travel free and entry to the museums is also free. Colosseum is an architectural marvel …but we never booked the tickets for this .Fortunately ,it was a Sunday and the authorities on some Sundays give a good number of free tickets to early visitors.ALWAYS GO WITH PRE BOOKED TICKETS. Also if you have a kid in a stroller you can straight away enter,officials give you priority. The sight of the Colosseum from outside itself is magnificent and gives us a reminder of Roman might. Bloody gladiatorial battles were once played out in the arena of Colosseum.
From Colosseum walk towards ROMAN FORUM .TIP-THE TICKET FOR RF ,COLOSSEUM AND PALATINE HILL IS SAME .TO AVOID LONG QUEUE AT COLOSSEUM BUY THE TICKET FROM THE PALATINE HILL COUNTER.Roman Forum is the archaeological ruins of ancient Roman life.Walk down the garden and ruins, my husband walked to Palatine Hill but I and my son enjoyed the food that we were carrying as that much was my appetite for Roman history.
Our next stop was the TREVI fountain.As soon as we came out of the metro station on our way to TREVI …we saw few people sitting at a small fountain roundabout dipping their feet in water kids playing so we joined them and relaxed a bit.
It was a great relief as after that it was Rome on foot.We reached Trevi but was not able to see clearly as some part was getting repaired. Trevi is one of the most impressive of Rome’s famous fountains . Throwing a coin into the fountain with your back turned ensures your wish comes true of course by making a promise to come back.We too threw a coin.Took a quick break at one of the city’s oldest bakery ANTICO FORNO. From Trevi, we walked down to SPANISH STEPS leading to TRIDENTE which is the heart of city’s shopping district.Spanish Steps is one of the most iconic landmarks and one of the most photographed attractions in Rome.But tourists are no longer permitted to sit on the iconic staircase. Recently, it underwent restoration and now according to new rules, it will not be subject to loiters abuse.A little expensive but can visit a traditional English tea shop BABINGTON’S TEA ROOM.We somehow preferred eating a hearty meal of pasta,steak at the piazza.Always carry the map of the city. We started taking our leisurely stroll towards PANTHEON.The best part is walking down the cobbledstreets ,stopping midway for coffee,ice cream for kids or just sit whenever tired.We reached Pantheon during sunset which made it look even more beautiful.Pantheon is the oldest church in Rome and remarkably preserved.It took us 5 mins.to walk from Pantheon to PIAZZA NOVONA, an iconic square.It is full of cafes ,street artists, fountains.We saw a couple of tricks by street artists and headed for dinner at a ristorante at Novona.
VATICAN- the Vatican is the spiritual centre of the catholic world .We decided to visit the Vatican Museum first mainly to visit SISTINE CHAPEL, took a train from Roma Termini which takes around 20 mins.
So,we had not booked tickets for the museum and reached there to see a long queue …one for those who do not have pre-booked tickets…second for those who have pre-booked tickets and a third one for the group tours. We had none but we had our four and a half-year-old son sitting on a stroller and a fellow tourist suggested we should straightaway go in front to the counter they might give us preference and let us in which we did and got through (that is why I love Europe they are so kid-friendly)do take an audio guide to know more about it. Vatican masterpiece is the 15th century CAPELLA SISTENA, Michelangelo ceilings frescoes are amazing, they illustrate the creation of man by god.Vatican museum ticket includes access to Sistine Chapel and can only be entered through museum.
TIP-since the chapel is catholic church appropriate attire is required.Clothing should cover the shoulders and knees.Voice should be kept low and no photography in chapel though photographs are allowed in the museum After appreciating the art we started walking towards St Peters Square. On our way, we had our first Gelato ice cream and after that, there was no stopping of ice creams.St Peters Square is one of best-known squares in Italy that mainly forms the core of Vatican city.It is breathtakingly beautiful.In the centre stands the Egyptian obelisk and two fountains. The square was constructed by Bernini,it is oval surrounded by semi-circular columns.When we reached the square,my son unbuckled himself from stroller and started running around, he was enjoying . U can see the Swiss Guards in their uniform at various checkpoints and guard the residence of Pope. ST PETERS BASILICA is the richest, holiest and most spectacular church.It is really some artist’s genius creation.It is constructed on the site of St Peters grave.It is mesmerising and at the same time, very peaceful inside.Sit at any corner of the church one feels so good and at peace even in the crowd.Do dress appropriately..It was indeed an unforgettable experience.