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Traveling with kids in Rome

Jean Porter

Rome for Children

27 Sept 2012

Traveling With Children in Rome

                Children love the new and the different.  They are excited to explore and learn new things.  But equally, they love routine and the familiar.  If you are traveling with your children through the Eternal City of Rome, here are some very simple things to meet your child’s need for both excitement and routine.

                Hotels.  Where your family stays can ease much of the stress of travel.  Many families travel when school is out. This means a lot of June through August travel.  Temperatures can get uncomfortably warm in Rome in the summer, so coming back at the end of a hot day to a hotel swimming pool can sooth everyone’s nerves and give the kids a chance to blow off steam before turning in.  Most hotels that have a pool tend to be a little out of the way, but all have shuttles to the main piazzas and many are on bus lines that loop around city central. 

Here is a short list of popular hotels with pools:

                Atahotel Villa Pamphili. Via Della Nocetta 105.  Near the Parco Villa Doria Pamphili -a large and peaceful green space with playgrounds and running paths. The breakfast buffet is very good. A free shuttle takes the 15 minute drive to the Vatican every hour.

                H10 Roma Citta. Via Pietro Blaserna 101.  Breakfast buffet is very good.  There are many shops and bars close by. 15 minutes by local bus or free shuttle to City Center.

                Aldrovandi Villa Borghese. Via Ulisse Aldrovandi 15.  Next to the Villa Borghese, a 148 acre park, and near to the zoo. Breakfast buffet is very good.  Five minute ride by free shuttle bus to the Spanish Steps.

                Gran Melia Rome. Via del Gianicolo 3. Very near to the Vatican.  Breakfast is excellent. Free shuttle to Spanish Steps. 

                Familiar food is also a comfort to children. One doesn’t go all the way to Rome to eat at McDonalds, but after a few days of looking into their plate and not recognizing what they see, some kids need a break.  If you wish to combine a trip to McDonalds with Roman atmosphere go to the first McDonalds built in Rome.  Just off the Spanish Steps, this McDonalds opened in 1986 to massive protests. It has since won over the Italians by providing a McCafe espresso bar, pastry and gelato bar and adding healthier menu items that incorporate local tastes.  Other McDonalds are found in Piazza Barberini, Via del Corso, Piazza della Repubblica and Trastevere.

                Traveling with children can also be an added expense, so activities that are free or cheap are nice to find.  The Pantheon, jaw dropping in size and appearance, is many travelers’ favorite tourist spot; and it is absolutely free.  There are headphone audio tours available at a small price, but many tourists prefer to download an audio tour from the web. provides 9 audio tours by Rick Steves, including the Pantheon.  A bonus, near the Pantheon is the famous Della Palma gelato shop, featuring 100 flavors of gelato and a large display of bulk candy.

                Mostly free is the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument. This stunning white building on the Piazza Venezia is the home of the Museum of Italian Reunification and the Italian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is bursting with incredible statues and is free to enter up to the first level which allows marvelous views of the surrounding area.  However, for 7 euros, the trip to the top of the Monument in the glass elevator provides arguably the finest panoramic view in all Rome, including bird’s eye views of neighboring Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

                Also free is the Villa Borghese Park and Pincio Gardens. Villa Borghese is Rome’s second largest park. It encompasses 148 acres, a zoo, a famous puppet theater, kiddie rides, and a small man-made lake with ducks to feed and rowboats to rent. Pincio Gardens, adjacent to Villa Borghese, has bike and surrey rental shops to allow for the entire family to wheel around the scenic park and escape the congestion and noise of Rome for a time.

                With only a little planning, Rome can be a very child friendly city.





Elementary? Not really…

“Elementary”.  The new Sherlock Holmes show on CBS…

My mom always says: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” so…..

So…. let me tell my fellow Sherlock Holmes fans about this great TV show called “Perception”.  It stars Eric McCormack, the guy who played Will on “Will and Grace”.   His character is Dr. Daniel Pierce, a neuropsychiatrist and professor at some fictional Ivy Covered University.  He is also schizophrenic.  Crazy, right?  The only people who know this is the Dean of the Uni who hired him (LeVar Burton), the Teachers Assistant that Professor Pierce hired Just To Let Him Know When He is Hallucinating and of course, his own Watson, Special Agent Kate Moretti, a former student, now FBI Special Agent, who calls on him for his help in difficult cases.  

This show, “Perception” is all kinds of fun to watch.  See the Professor is just like Holmes; razor sharp, focused, fast, and he notices everything. As a neuropsychiatrist he knows intimately how people think, again, like Holmes- the penultimate student of human nature.  Also like Holmes he is completely unaware of his former student’s crush on him.  There is a recurring hallucination of a woman with whom he talks over his troubles.  He knows she isn’t real, but she is his “conductor of light” and helps him work out the mystery.  The show is on TNT and the first season just finished, but there are reruns, and the next season has been picked up already.

“Elementary” in comparison, seems like a poorly constructed hodgepodge of old police procedural ideas tacked onto a couple called Holmes and Watson.  Miller, I’m afraid, just doesn’t project the native intelligence or fireball energy of Holmes on a case.  He would make an excellent poker player because you can never tell what, or if, he is thinking about something.  I kept imagining I was watching “Walter” from “Fringe”.  Miller’s Holmes has a kind of Rain Man-idiot savant presence that washes over you but doesn’t get you excited about the Mystery.   And speaking of the mystery; traditionally Holmes is called in for unsolvable cases, or by a civilian who can’t get the police to help.  Last night he was called in for what was assumed, by every police officer on the scene, to be a simple burglary gone wrong.  Why would they call in Holmes if they thought it was an open and shut case?  For Quality Assurance?

And poor Lucy Liu, after allllll the firestorm on the fandom pages about a woman Watson, she really doesn’t have much of a part.  As a well-known American Actress, I bet she was expecting a lot more from this role.  Really it seems as though her only purpose is to ask Holmes what he is thinking.  And who can blame her, I couldn’t tell either.

Maybe it will get better.  CBS has put a lot of money into this project, maybe if they sack the writers and try again they could salvage it.  I wonder if Mark Gattiss is available.



A Case of Do Or Die

It is said that Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.  True.  So are heart attacks.

Thirty years in a machine shop.  I knew it was time to get out.  I’d developed a nasty allergy to the coolant – ear aches and my skin sloughed off- nice, right?

Carpal tunnel, arthritis in my knees, deteriorated vertebrae in my neck, fallen arches; really all the stuff you’d expect from a life standing on concrete for thirty years, ten hours a day, making repetitive movements,  and freezing in the winter and nearing heat stroke in the summer.  Nothing surprising.  Pretty much what happened to every other machinist I had known over the years.  At least I still had all my fingers, and my hearing had not been shot yet.

Then two things happened.  First, the company I had been working for began to systematically let go of its older workers, one at a time, and replaced them with kids out of high school or temps, sometimes ex-cons,  ( but that blew up in their face a couple of times, so they quit that practice) and pay them 10 bucks an hour.  It would be up to the rest of us old timers to train these new recruits, and then as soon as they were somewhat trained,  another old-timer would be let go.   It went this way for three months, and then it was my turn.   Out the door I went.  How did they put it? “We are severing our relationship with you.”

Relationship?  I thought it was a job.  What did I know.

Then the second thing happened.  Heart attack.  Seems like stress does kill, or at least it tries too.

Lucky for me, my cardiologist told me later, I have this freakishly long artery on the far side of my heart that wrapped around and fed the near side.  This kept me alive while the near side artery (an artery with its own nickname – The Widow Maker – how charming) shut down on me.

But, they shoved a stent in there, and all is well.  Change in diet, some great new meds, and I’m healthier than I’ve been in many years.  Back in school to pick up my B.A. (nearly there now) and now it’s time to get back in the world.  But not as a machinist.  Not anymore.

Fortunately I have other skills.

1. I am a CNC Programmer with Mastercam experience. I freelance as a programmer on the side.

2. I’ve got thirty years of working in a manufacturing environment.  I can work as a Quality Assurance person,  a buyer, a scheduler, a planner.

3. I know a lot about computers. Went to an IT school a few years back and picked up my A+ and N+ and CNE certificates.

4. I have my Associates Degree in English and am a year away from my Bachelors.  I have been steadily working on a separate career as a writer, and I’m ready to move into Technical Writing and Copy Writing as a full-time gig.

So, sky’s the limit, right?  It has to be.  I can’t go back to the shop floor.  This is a case of do or die.