Ever wondered how it would be to take the youngest members of your family to this gelato capital of the world? Would you still have the chance to experience with your wedded half some romantic time and enjoy a few glasses of gustoso (tasty) Italian wine whilst pushing the stroller down windy Italian alleyways?? With these tips you may be able to experience your children-friendly Italian vacanza more smoothly, and plan to return again soon!
The first advice I would give to parents who are excited about visiting Italy is: Italians generally worship children and will definitely spoil them by giving out tons of freebie food. Many Italians spend all their savings on the latest adorable children’s fashion too. To an average visitor, it may even appear like an exaggeration to buy exquisite designer labels for newborns, but in Italy this is the way adults, not children, are judged by their inquisitive hosts. Barefoot children jumping around Fontana di Trevi fountain or nearby Piazza Navona street performers? Don’t ever think about it!! An Australian friend recently observed that the first time her little niece owned a pair of proper shoes (not Aussie-style flip-flops) was in Venice, as the locals ‘gently’ reminded her parents of it every step of the way. Hence if you don’t want to be told off for your bad parenting habits, take an extra pair of shoes for your little monsters, even if they protest, and you are likely to enjoy a more peaceful holiday.
Second advice I would offer is to be prepared to walk for hours, including along bumpy cobbled streets. There may not be any elevators or escalators to help you with the pram transportation. Furthermore, Italian bus drivers can be very impatient or irresponsive (whilst answering their mobile phones) as you are desperately trying to get off the public transport with a pram, large suitcases or even children. You must think quick and move even quicker. Since local busses offer another scenic way to see Rome, you may even wish to stay aboard for the whole ride. It is definitely another way to get familiar with your surroundings and local inhabitants too. If your child cries nobody minds, as most other passengers are as loud during their normal conversations. Italia is a fun place to go for sounds and facial expressions, as much as it is for carbs and children’s accessories.
Before taking off you should familiarize yourself with the ancient history of Rome as well as more recent cultural exports. There are countless stories which Rome can narrate, but your children will be posing million and one questions to poor you about gladiators, Roman ruins, Christianity, Pompeii, but also soccer, the history of pizza, Italian hot chocolate and Ferrari. This small preparation will help you save a fortune on guide books once you are there, plus you will be in a position to make more informed decisions about pushy tourist offers and street art and craft. Then there is home-made gelato at every street corner, but you should at least try to differentiate between disappointing tourist traps and real home-made frozen delicacies. And your little companions will be grateful for it!
Lastly, a mother in a beautiful yet semi-conservative outfit is an ideal sight to the Italian psyche, so don’t be surprised as a woman if you attract even more attention with your child. However, this attention will be more of a praise than hassle, a reward for well-invested time and effort to enjoy life ‘alla romana’ in a family setting- an ideal for all Italians. Buone vacanze ai tutti di voi genitori!