Ah, Rome! Italy's capital city was once the center of the Roman Empire, leaving what is now an architectural and historical marvel.
With a history of over 3,000 years, Rome is the capital city of Italy. It is home to – among other amazing things – the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, piazzas – or city squares – and 280 fountains! Mamma mia! Wow!
KeeKee, AAA’s Family Travel Mascot and star of the award-winning children’s book series KeeKee’s Big Adventures, loves to visit Rome. These are her favorite things to do and see when she's there.
THE COLOSSAL COLOSSEUM
Standing inside the literally colossal Colosseum is an awe-inspiring experience. It is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, located in what was once the center of ancient Rome. It is the largest amphitheater in the world.
Built in 80 AD to highlight Roman engineering, it had over 80 entrances and could accommodate somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators.
A family-friendly guided tour is a great way for the family to learn about its history and the events that took place here. They can also take you to the underground chambers.
Another fun option for kids is going to Gladiator School.
ROMAN FORUM RUINS
The Roman Forum was the center of daily life in Rome for hundreds of years. Ruins here date back to the 5th century BC and are some of the most incredible remains of the Roman Empire.
Forum means “plaza.” It’s where elections, public speeches, and victory marches (known as Triumphs) took place.
Today it’s a mass of ruins and architectural fragments where your imagination can come to life thinking about all that has taken place on its grounds over its 1,100 years.
The kids will love the wide-open spaces whether you take a guided tour or just a run-around.
MAKE A WISH AT TREVI FOUNTAIN
No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to one of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain. It got its name as it is built at the intersection of three roads “tre vie!”
Did you know Trevi Fountain is a wishing fountain? According to legend, using your right hand to toss a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain will guarantee a return visit to Rome.
Each day nearly €4,000 (or $5,500) in coins is tossed into the Trevi Fountain. The coins are collected every night and given to a charity that helps those homeless and impoverished.
LOOK UP IN THE PANTHEON
The Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient building in Rome. The name comes from the Greek word Pantheion meaning “temple of all the gods.”
KeeKee's tip for the kids…be sure to look up!
The roof of the building is a large circular concrete dome. Built nearly 1,900 years ago in 125 AD, it is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. While we generally know the techniques used to build the dome, some details of the construction remain a mystery. Ancient Roman construction documents have not survived.
And atop the dome is a large round opening called an oculus. It allows the sun in and lights up the entire building. It also allows the rain to come in. Another KeeKee’s tip for the kids…be sure to look down and look for the drains in the floor!
CELESTIAL SISTINE CHAPEL
The Vatican is its own country and the world’s smallest nation. Vatican City is its capital, with 550 citizens! It is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and where the leader of the Church, the Pope, lives.
There are so many famous buildings and works of art in Rome, but KeeKee’s favorite is the ceiling INSIDE the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums. It is HU-U-U-GE. The painting is bigger than a basketball court!
It was hand-painted by the famous Italian artist Michelangelo. The ceiling, completed in 1541, took four years to paint. Contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo painted the ceiling in a standing position using scaffolding he built himself, not lying down.
ROME'S FURRY FRIENDS
The famous Roman ruins at Torre Argentina span a full city block and are the home to over 300 stray cats.
The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary (located down below within the ruins) is a shelter for homeless cats. Volunteers feed and care for the Italian gatti (gatti means cats in Italian). You can even visit inside, and the cats are available for adoption!
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
The Mouth of Truth, or Bocca Della Verita, in Italian (BOH-kah deh-lah verh-EAT-tah) is a large round marble statue that was once a drain cover.
It is best known as a lie detector. Starting in the Middle Ages, the myth holds that if a person places their hand in the mouth and tells a lie, the ancient stone sculpture will bite their hand off.
CLIMB THE SPANISH STEPS
What is so exciting about a stairway? Well, the Spanish Steps are the widest stairway in all of Europe and have 174 steps. A beautiful fountain is at the bottom of the steps in Piazza di Spagna. The piazza is a popular spot to drink in la dolce vita, which means “the sweet life” in Italian.
With a history of nearly 3,000 years, there are many miles of tunnels under the ground of Rome just outside the city. You can discover excavations of everything from ancient Roman drains and water cisterns to churches and catacombs.
The kids, and the whole family, will love the food…pizza, pasta, and gelato…oh my!
Gelato is the Italian word for “frozen.” It is a traditional Italian frozen dessert that is like ice cream but has a denser, smoother, and creamier texture.
Although pizza was invented in Napoli (Naples) in the mid-1800s, there are so many pizzerias to try in Rome.
Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s wonderful piazzas (town squares), where you find places to enjoy Roman cuisine sitting among the piazza’s beautiful fountains and architecture.
Rome is a fantastic place for a family adventure, where you can time-travel through ancient ruins, indulge in mouthwatering treats, and soak up the city's vibrant spirit, creating memories that will have your whole family shouting "Ciao Bella" (Hello, beautiful!) for years to come!
Rome Adventure Awaits!