For a city of such ancient urban density, Rome has some wonderful parks in the historical center where visiting families can take the kids to let off some steam and enjoy a bit of nature and some swings and play structures with incredible views. The following are a few of my favorite parks and playgrounds in Rome, within close proximity to the major historical sites you are likely to visit.
Castel Sant’Angelo – just behind Castel Sant’ Angelo you will find a play park in a most awe-inspiring setting amid the fortifications and the towering ancient cypress trees, with a jungle gym, seesaw, and several play structures, all typically in the shade.
Parco Villa Celimontana – on the opposite side of the Colosseum of the ticket booth, if you head around the monument to the left, and up the hill, you will find the Parco Villa Celimontana with a peek of the rooftops looking back over the forum from the top of the jungle gym. You can also occasionally find a man offering pony rides in a cart for a charming little tour of the park’s gardens.
Borghese Gardens – a great place for the whole family to explore and run around, or rent a surrey bike. As you enter the park, get acquainted with all of the fun it has to offer by hopping on the electric mini train at the Porta Pinciana entrance, you can get off at stops throughout the park to enjoy the play structures at the “Raphael’s House” (Casina di Raffaello) play area, the children’s cinema and café, a mini amusement park with bumper cars and games, or rent a row boat on the tiny lake.
I asked J.M. Pasquesi, author of Rome with Kids guidebook, for her advice to families on how to visit parks and playgrounds in Rome, she replied with some great tips to make a day of it! “Bring a Frisbee or buy a soccer ball for pick up games with other kids. Add a picnic and it may be your child’s favorite memory. Pack prosciutto, fresh bread and fruit from local markets (panificio, forno (bakeries), alimentary (meats/cheeses), and outdoor markets are convenient. Order un etto to get about a ¼ pound of anything.” For a gourmet picnic, order panini from Zia Rosetta, in the Monti quarter of Rome. To go orders are easy to place online.
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