Every year a new Roman restoration is unveiled, bringing ever more interest in Italy’s Eternal City. Since family travel brings so many multigenerational groups to Rome, we’ll start with two ideas for activities to do with children.
Visit the Coliseum, which revealed its multimillion-dollar facelift last summer, and then take the young people to Gladiator School, presented by the history group Gruppo Storico Romano. Book the two-hour class through Viator. The minimum age to participate is 6. There is a viewing stand for family and friends.
Explore the ruins of Stadio di Domiziano under Piazza Navona and afterwards eat a tartufo nero (chocolate ice cream truffle) at Tre Scalini in the piazza. The stadium’s exhibits and audio tapes illustrate the history of sports from the ancient Greeks to Imperial Rome. Buy tickets onsite; hours are Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 to 8.
The famous gardens in and around Rome, from Ninfa to Villa d’Este in Tivoli, are also family-friendly. Within the last few years, the summer residence of the Pope, Castel Gandolfo, has been opened to the public on a limited basis. For English speakers, there must be a group reserved with an English guide. Dark Tours in Rome offers a day trip, including lunch and transportation, with visits both within the palace and outside in its vast gardens.
For serious cultural travelers, the Scuderie del Quirinale museum will follow up “From Caravaggio to Bernini: Masterpieces of the Italian Seicento from the Spanish Royal Collection,” which runs through July 30, with “Picasso: Between Cubism and Neoclassicism,” September 21 through January 27, 2018. When leaving the exhibition space on the top floor, the staircase with glass panels provides a great view over the city. The Vittoriano Museum is showing Italy’s first major retrospective dedicated to the work of Fernando Botero, the Colombian artist. The show runs through August. Go to www.romemuseumguide.com for information and directions to Rome’s museums.
Rome’s accommodations scene is heating up in the historic center, with the reopening of the Hotel Eden and the unveiling of new executive suites at the Hassler Roma. Alberto Moncada’s newest boutique property, Margutta 19, is set to open in July. The Grand Hotel Via Veneto has received a Michelin star for its Magnolia restaurant, while the boutique Crossing Condotti has partnered with Antonelli wines in Umbria to offer wine tastings to guests.
A number of visitors to the city have also taken advantage of the many religious houses and convents that offer rooms for guests. One notable property is Villa Palazzola on Lake Albano just outside of Rome, near Castel Gandolfo. The villa is a 13th-century Cistercian monastery, fully refurbished and modernized, with a large swimming pool and view of the lake. Guests include families, parish groups, pilgrims, school groups, couples or single travelers.
On the foodie front, the locals are chatting about Emma Pizzeria at Via Monte della Farina, 28/29 near Campo di Fiori and the gluten-free menu at Mama Eat, Via di San Cosimato 7 in Trastevere. Even Michelin-starred Aroma at Palazzo Manfredi, Via Labicana 125 near the Coliseum is on the gluten-free bandwagon. We still love the traditional trattoria Ulisse at Via Giuseppe Ferrari 10 in Prati, but our new lunch fave is 100% BIO at Piazza di Porta San Paolo, 6/a on the Aventino.
American shoppers don’t have to speak Italian to understand that the two Lesley Shops in Rome (on Via Lombardia and Via Vittoria) offer designer vintage clothing and shoes. Check out “Le marche trattate” — a list of dozens of famous fashion brands — on their website.