Skipping the Vatican and the Forum
Your kid is on his fifth-grade school trip to Rome, taking in all the obvious highlights, queueing for the Vatican and the Forum. So what’s the clever thing to do? Fly out to the Eternal City, pick him up at his hotel as his teachers and classmates leave for the airport, and show him all the things that he missed. Here are five more days in Rome, slightly off the beaten path.
His hotel is in the middle of Monti, the cool neighbourhood where you will return for coffee each day.
Day 1 - Tivoli
The first day you rent a car to leave the city for the small town of Tivoli and its two treasures - Emperor Hadrian’s Villa Adriana and the 16th-century Villa d’Este with its famous fountain-filled terraced gardens.
That ass, though.
And the kid’s sense of humour.
Day 2 - Doria & Keats
It’s a cloudy day when you wake up, and soon enough it starts to rain. So you decide on showing the kid some hidden gems around the corner of two very crowded squares: the Galleria Doria Pamphilj behind the Piazza Venezia, and the Keats-Shelley Memorial House right at one side of the Spanish steps.
The walls of the Doria picture gallery have three or four masterpieces hanging above each other. The house where Keats, Shelley and Byron once lived is a sanctuary amidst the Piazza di Spagna humdrum. While back in Monti, you end up witnessing a Greek-orthodox wedding.
Day 3 - Aventino, Regola & Parione
Fresh from the underground, you go straight by the Colosseum towards the quietest of Rome’s seven hills, and then embark on a lengthy city walk to Trastevere, the Isola Tiberina, the Campo de’ Fiori, the Pantheon, moving past the crowds at the Trevi fountain towards Piazza Barberini, and back into the metro towards ‘home’.
Your first destination is the Giardino degli Aranci vantage point on the Aventine, followed by your favourite Roman church, age-old Santa Sabina.
Clinched between the Santa Sabina and the Sant’Alessio is the small garden where you as a teenager used to spend your afternoons, listening to your walkman while feeling the summer breeze on your skin. You are happy to demonstrate to your kid what that was like.
Then you descend towards Trastevere for pizza...
...and retreat to the Isola Tiberina for a deserved break, before you go on an afternoon walk through some of the oldest parts of the city.
In front of the Santa Maria sopra Minerva - the only gothic church of the city - you discover that Lennon is still alive and has an iPhone.
Day 4 - Ponte & the Pincio
The next day you are back on the Martian fields for an exhibition in the Chiostro del Bramante, after which you visit the nearby Santa Maria dell’Anima, right around the corner of Piazza Navona. This opulent Renaissance church is the Dutch and German church in Rome, and the only Dutch pope in history - bonus points for his name - is buried here.
Then you go past the Spanish steps for a lazy afternoon in the Pincio park, only to return here for diner.
Day 5 - St John & St Mary
Your final day starts with a visit to the true main church of Roman Catholicism, the San Giovanni in Laterano. Next up is that other papal beauty, the Santa Maria Maggiore, from which it’s a short walk back to Monti for coffee, and that last blast by metro back to your friendly host down in the EUR district.
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