Helpline Question of the Month:
Any tips for traveling with teens in Rome?
|For teens in Rome, gelati trumps Bernini.|
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Probably nothing causes a parent more pre-trip stress than fearing his or her teenager will grow bored, sullen and rebellious (sound familiar?) during a trip to Europe. A good guidebook will have advice on this, but there's nothing like hearing directly from parents who've already been there, and done that. And came through it happily.
So, Marianne posted this question for our Helpline contributors...
We will be spending three days in Rome next month with my 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. Does anyone have suggestions for any attractions or tours in Rome that teens would enjoy?
— Marianne in Haddonfield, NJ
Laurel in Rome, Italy
Assuming museums with Renaissance art are not high on the list...take a guided tour of the Colosseo. The guide can make it come alive. Walks of Italy does a great job.
Take the elevator to the top of the Vittorio Emanuele Monument just before it closes for a great view of the city. (I think it closes at 7:00 p.m. You'll want to double-check that.)
San Clemente is a church with three levels: Mithrian, early Christian and "modern" Christian. Fascinating to see how one site has evolved over time. Not far from the Colosseo.
There's a nightly event along the Tiber with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Worth a stroll. Read more here. Also fun at night is a visit to Castel Sant'Angelo. Go for the English tour at 10:30PM.
Saint Peter's should be seen by everyone, religious or not. It is magnificent. You can hike to the top of the cupola if you like, another fabulous view.
Glenn in Marlton, NJ
I have taken my teenagers to Rome, and going again next April with my 11-year-old. To be honest, I went and did the things I wanted to see, as they thought it was great as well. I think I only went to one indoor museum, though. Keep it outside (assuming no rain). My 12-year-old son LOVED Ostia Antica as a day trip, and enjoyed Castel Sant'Angelo. Colosseo is always a hit with the teenagers... and everybody else :-).
Chani in Tel Aviv, Israel
They are old enough to use the internet :-) I'd get them involved now by letting each one choose something, then work out an itinerary together. I also think Ostia Antica might be a good choice for a 1/2 day trip.
Frank in Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO
Put them in charge of completely planning one day. If they are responsible they cannot blame anyone. When our sons were in that age range, they did the planning for about a third to half of what we saw. Even today at nearly 30 they now do all planning and just bring Dad and Mom along to pay the bills. Maybe two sons worked better because of similar interests. Don't know. And I do mean, hands off, it is their day.
Cathy in Baltimore
Even if you have things you know you already want to see and have the days planned, have the teens take turns navigating you to and from the attractions. Our kids (13 and 15 at the time) enjoyed having control of the map and directing us around.
They also really enjoyed the Forum and Colosseum, hanging out in Trastevere at the main square in the evening to eat gelato and people-watch, taking the #8 tram to Largo Argentina to see the cat sanctuary, climbing to the roof of St. Peter's. Also visiting the Jewish ghetto (interesting sites, not crowded, good restaurants) and then crossing the bridge to wander through Trastevere.
Charles in Austin, TX
I took my 18-year-old daughter (at the time) and 17-year-old son on trips to Rome within the last couple of years. What they liked was the Underground Colosseum tour, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, St. Peters, and gelato. What they did not like was the Vatican museum, the Palatine Hill, and the Rick Steves audio tours (sad to say, but true).
Donna in cranberry twp, PA
I would limit the amount of tours you do. I would also have them read a few guide books and make a list of the things they really want to see and do. This way you can work in their suggestions when planning your visit.
If you do decide to take tours I would book with the official sites. These tours are great and usually much less expensive than a tour run by a private company. I just got back from a 17-day trip and we did two tours, one of the Colosseum underground and one of the Palazzo Valentini. My kids (21 and 18) loved both of them. We spent the rest of the time visiting the sites on their lists and having a great time doing it.
Marie in Northbrook, IL
Two years ago we took our three sons, aged 14, 12 and 10, to Rome. I agree, keep the organized tours to a minimum as we were there in August and it's brutally hot. They loved the Sistine Chapel. However, their favorite thing to do was to have dinner outside, walk around and find an ice cream place and then sit in the Piazza della Rotunda on the fountain, watching all the people. It was right in front of our hotel. To that generation, it's an internet world and they can Google a lot of the museum paintings, etc. that our folks dragged us around to see. Maybe that's why they enjoyed being out and about. Try Piazza Navona too.
Kristen in Chicago, IL
I second the Ostia Antica suggestion and would also add a tour of the catacombs.
Miguel in Pembroke Pines, FL
Don't worry about it, you're in Rome. Who's paying for the trip? Are they? Probably not! You are. They'll just have to love being in an outdoor museum, whether they like it or not. The only thing that they will probably find really boring is the Vatican Museum, but you have to go through it to get to the Sistine Chapel. WOW, the Sistine Chapel! Even they will love it. I found the Vatican Museum really boring and I love antiquities and art. But everything else is short attention span stuff. If they get fidgety, pizza, gelatos and McD's are close by. They'll love Rome. Don't worry about it!
(Note: some posts have been edited for spelling and clarity)
Our independent, volunteer Travelers Helpline contributors are sincere, but not infallible! Follow their advice at your own risk. This thread was gently edited for brevity and clarity. Ask your European travel question on the Travelers Helpline.