Rome (with kids).
This was my third trip with my girlfriend Raegan, my second time visiting Rome, but it was our first time travelling with kids, and travelling together with kids! We've both done quite a bit of travelling, but never with babies in tow so we knew this would be a trip of firsts in many ways.
Since both Raegan and I had been to Rome before there was no pressure to squeeze the entire city and it's thousands of years of history into seven days. This worked out perfect for us as it allowed us to take a nice easy pace and have a quality and memorable trip as opposed to one filled with quantity that can easily be confused or forgotten.
It really allowed us to SLOW DOWN! This is especially important when travelling with kids! Don't try to replicate the way you used to travel before baby. Things are different now! So try not to squeeze too many activities or sightseeing into one day.
We would generally plan one big adventure a day which usually ended up being in the afternoon. Our mornings were filled with naps, cappuccino runs and making breakfast.
I really tried to stick as closely as I could to the same routine I had at home - which basically meant my days revolved around Inès's nap schedule. I never thought my life would revolve around nap times - but now I am basically a prisoner! The timing is not always ideal, especially when travelling (hello baby jet lag!), and it often means sacrificing some activities or sightseeing, but a tired and cranky baby is not fun for anyone!
There were also days when things didn't always go according plan. We had a few days where Raegan and I were on totally different nap schedules, which meant some solo exploring and street wandering. A huge coup would be if we were able to get a lunch out together. And there were certainly days when we'd be up before dawn or in bed just after sunset.
Travelling with kids is certainly not easy, but I'm determined to keep at it! And I believe that making the extra effort to travel will ultimately have a positive impact on my little girl. I think the key is that you really just have to learn to embrace the craziness that comes with baby travel and smile at the fact that things will definitely not always go according to plan.
Travelling to Rome with a baby and a toddler meant that we needed a kitchen and laundry so we decided to go with an Airbnb. We rented a 2 bedroom apartment on Via dei Coronari in Navona - arguably one of Rome's most enchanting neighbourhoods, and centered around the spectacle that is Piazza Navona. It's narrow winding streets were the perfect exemplar of Rome's charm and quaintness and were perfect for daytime strolling, shopping, great restaurants and cafes.
Now the apartment itself was kinda hilarious and there were some serious issues with the suite. We were pretty screwed in terms of stroller accessibility. There were tons of stairs and the smallest elevator ever (we had to disassemble our strollers in order to use it and only one person could fit in it at a time)! We also needed 6 keys just to get in to the apartment (3 for doors within the building, 1 for the elevator and 2 keys for the apartment) RIDONC! It was such a huge pain in the ass to get in and out of, especially with the strollers, but on the plus side the neighbourhood was rad.
I did find myself using my Ergo Baby carrier a ton just because it was so much easier in terms of getting in and out of the apartment. The only downside to the carrier was that Inès and I would get pretty hot as the weather was quite warm in Rome. I did still use the stroller as I liked having it at restaurants so Inès could sit in her car seat instead of on my lap so I could actually eat my food.
Even though the apartment description on Airbnb said it was "kid friendly" next time I would try and book an apartment that was wheel chair accessible.
There must be a million gellaterias in Rome but this one is consistently rated at the top of all the lists, and it just so happened to be conveniently located 3 floors directly below our apartment!
Using only the freshest ingredients, this place has nothing to hide as you can watch the gelato being made through the large window. Inside is an amazing selection of gelato with some unique flavours like Raspberry Sage, Lavender White Peach, Sicilian Almond and my favourite Lemon with Rosemary and Honey!
This place came highly recommended to us by Raegan's uncle. We tried going here twice (once for lunch and once for dinner) but they refused to seat us because of our strollers! So we thought we would attempt one last go but this time we put the kids in the carriers and headed on over for an early dinner. Luckily, this time we were able to get a great table outside! I'm so glad we persevered because the food was amazing - order the gnocchi with pistachio!! The service was also great and the staff were very friendly. This isn't haute cuisine, it's honest italian food in simple surroundings. The atmosphere is great and be sure to get a table outside so you can people watch! They even comped us a limoncello each, we were two very happy mamas!
This was the one place I wanted to see while I was in Rome. So one afternoon Inès and I hopped in a taxi and headed out to the Borghese Gallery. Once we arrived I quickly realized that this place is NOT stroller friendly. Stairs everywhere! Literally the bane of my existence in Rome. There were about 20 stairs leading up to the entrance of the gallery and no elevator in sight. So with Inès in the car seat, I disassembled the stroller and started hauling it up the steps. Because I was by myself I had to do this in two parts. I took Inès up in her car seat and left her at the top of the stairs and just as I was turning around to head back down the stairs to get the rest of the stroller a man came out and started yelling at me "Madame, No...., No, No, No!" Apparnently, the entrance was down a different set of stairs!! So I had to carry Inès back down the steps, reassemble the stroller, find the correct entrance (with more stairs), disassemble the stroller, again, and carry everything down. Once again, I had to do this in two trips.
The crazy thing about this whole ordeal was that no one offered to help me!!!! I was actually kind of shocked by this. I don't know if it was because people are just in their own worlds and aren't paying attention or that people just aren't willing to help strangers??? But it was pretty awful.
Once I had finally hauled everything down the stairs there were signs everywhere saying that tickets to the gallery were sold out and that they were only accepting pre-sales for Saturday. I couldn't believe it! I just came all this way, had the worst stair disaster experience and now I can't even get into the gallery?!! I had no idea I had to buy tickets in advance! I was literally on the verge of a MAJOR meltdown. I decided to wait in line anyways. Once I got to the ticketing desk and asked if they were sold out for the day the ticketing agent said that I had come at the right time and he sold me a ticket! I was so relieved!!!!
Apparently only 360 people are allowed to visit the gallery a day, which means you must reserve in advance or you risk being turned away due to no availability. I'm pretty sure I got very, very lucky. Either that, or the ticketing agent took pitty on me and decided to sell me a ticket anyway.
Once I had my ticket I realized that the stroller was not allowed in the gallery (thank god I brought my carrier)!! I was however, able to check it at the counter. So I plopped Inès in the Ergo, left my stroller at the coat check and away we went.
The gallery was amazing and if I had to pick only one museum to visit on my trip to Rome, this would be the one. The museum has one of the best collections of art in the world - sculpture, painting and architecture (the building itself is a masterpiece). And it's all in a space that's visitable in the 2-hour time allotment you have. Some serious swoon worthy (and very famous) works by Caravaggio and Bernini were my favs.
The bonus about visiting this museum is that it's also a park. The Villa Borghese Gardens is the third largest park in Rome. So if you're looking for shade, a place to feed your baby or a quiet spot for a nap on-the-go, this is where you'll find it. It's also the perfect spot for an escape from sightseeing and crowded tourist attractions.
So after all that, would I say it was worth the visit.... definitely yes! Although my experience was certainly not easy or smooth, and could have ended terribly, I'd have to say it was still worth it and I'm so glad I went. Worth a visit forsure!
The Pantheon is a true architectural wonder and one of my favourite 'tourist attractions' in Rome. It's also one of the best preserved buildings of ancient Rome.
Outside, the pillard portico entrance is imposing but the interior is a real surprise. As soon as you walk in your first instinct is to look upwards at the dome. The oculus, the only source of natural light, is a round opening in the center of the dome. It's open to the sky and the floor is even gently sloped to allow for rainwater runoff.
There are some beautiful frescoes and the marble floors are amazing. There are also some monumental tombs set in the wall of the Pantheon, including that of the artist Raphael (on the left side as you enter). Bonus: there is no charge for admission and no security screening!