When in Rome
(With a Toddler)
Last September we took an unexpected last-minute city break in Rome. Upon returning from the most lovely wedding in Umbria, the day we were supposed to fly back home we had a sudden change of heart and decided to stay just a little bit longer. This was, I’ll admit, mostly due to the amazing Indian Summer they were having, with all the trees still green and the weather so warm.
We found a nice flat by way of airbnb in under 15 minutes. I personally love staying in hotels but I find it difficult when travelling with small children. A kitchen always comes in handy and I prefer to not have an adjacent hotel room for those wee hours of the night when your child might wake up screaming from a night terror, not to mention that mornings become a lot more pleasurable when you can hang out in an apartment instead of spending it in a hurry to leave the room, as active toddlers aren’t really big on breakfast in bed, long baths in the morning or reading in the bathrobe for an indefinite time because “you’re on vacation and who cares about the time?”. Since we hadn’t initially planned to travel to a city, we had no pushchair and little feet do tire easily, especially since our daughter had already become a bit too heavy for the carrier. Luckily for us, we found a very prompt rental service that has the pushchair delivered at your door and they also come to retrieve it as soon as you’re done with it.
Pushchair problem solved, all we had was great weather on our side and a lot of exploring to do. And there’s a lot to do in Rome, with its amazing sights and great food, its gelato and restaurants, parks and museums. Rome is a lot more child friendly than I’d expected, with high-chairs in every restaurant, a no-smoking policy in all facilities and with Italians smiling at children on the street all the time. However, playgrounds are rare to say the least, most parks are solely monuments of baroque landscaping, such as Villa Borghese, wonderful for walking, not so much for playing. What they lack in playgrounds, they make up for at Museo dei Bambini with thematic workshops for all ages, ranging from playing with water, grocery shopping and farming to recycling and teaching kids about money awareness. They even have a special space for children smaller than three. The place is a blast for kids, guaranteed. There’s also Bioparco di Roma, the city Zoo. I’m not a huge fan of cooped up animals of any kind, but at least I can say that the ones at this Zoo were well looked after and yes, children love Zoos.
Food-wise, we had the pleasure of enjoying a couple of nice restaurants. We found a small restaurant that served the most wonderful and simple dishes cooked with the best truffles and funghi porcini, Al Gran Sasso. It’s quite understated and very close to the Villa Borghese, so it’s a perfect lunch stop before taking a stroll in the park. If you’re a fan of fish, the “Orata in crosta di patate e zucchine” is a must!Since the only restaurant in Villa Borghese only served “surgelati”, which basically means they cook up frozen pre-packaged food, we decided on having an impromptu picnic with delicious fish sandwiches that are made on the spot at this Salmoneria. We also got a small bottle of Prosecco and fresh strawberries (there are produce carts all over the town) and made an afternoon out of it, strolling through the park some more while my daughter snuggly napped in the stroller.
We did take one evening off for a proper date and we decided on going to Enoteca La Torre, a fine dining restaurant located in Villa Laetitia, a marvellous residence owned by the Fendi family for generations. The villa is absolutely stunning, with its architecture and details, especially the crystal high windows that were amazingly lit up by the thunderstorm the evening we were there. Everything is a perfect balance between excellent food, starring beauty and careful refinement at Villa Laetitia, from the setting and the furniture to the the Frette table napkins and the reverence of the staff, while everything is topped with “a sense of surprise, freshness and amusement”, as the owners of the restaurant like to put it. If you’re ever in Rome and want to splurge on a nice dinner, I strongly recommend Enoteca La Torre.
We did cook a couple of highly delectable meals at home, buying fresh produce from the market and the freshest cuts from the Macellaio around the corner. For a dessert to go, I recommend GROM gelati, there are a couple of parlours along Rome, the one we stopped in was located in Piazza Navona. Also, if you want to have great coffee, my recommendation is Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, founded in 1938, with their great coffee specialties, my favourite definitely being the Gran Caffè.Also, when in Rome, look up while walking the streets, the typography is exquisite. Thank you, Rome for having us and hope to see you very soon!