Centro Storico

In ancient Rome, the Centro Storico was called "The Field of Mars" (Campus Martius), a flat plain where soliders practiced their drills. Soon it was filled with theaters, temples to the Roman gods and deified emperors, baths, and Domitian's stadium for horse races. Today, kids will find it's a fun neighborhood in Rome to explore.

Market Piazza Campo de' Fiori - At the Piazza Campo de' Fiori is one of Rome's oldest markets. Market is open Monday to Saturday, come in the morning. Perfect place to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, honey, jam, nuts, dried pasta, deli meats, cheese, pastries, bread, sandwiches, fruit drinks, for picnic or apartment rental.
Bocca della Verita (Piazza Bocca della Verita) - Kids can test their truth-telling at the Bocca della Vertia, the "Mouth of Truth." Located in the porch of the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin is a large marble plaque - a wrinkled, careworn face topped with two horns, and a large open mouth. Kids can go up to the face, and stick their hand into the mouth. According to legend, the Bocca della Verita closes shut over the hand of anyone who tells a lie. So far, no hands have been lost at the Bocca della Verita, and it's fun to do. The whole piazza around the church is also quite ancient, dating back to the Etruscan kings and scattered with bits of stone columns that you can sit on..
Time Elevator Experience Roma (Via dei SS. Apostoli 20, off Via del Corso) - Passport Roma is a splashy 45 min. multimedia show, a good introduction to 3000 years of Roman history (do this before you see the Roman antiquities or Sistine Chapel). Vivid live action dramatizations of the birth of Rome (twins Romulus and Remus), death of Julius Caesar, Michelangelo at work, 3-D reconstruction of Rome burning, in a virtual reality theater that makes you feel like you're there. Headsets in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Japanese. Kids 5 and up.
Pantheon - The Pantheon, Temple of All Gods, it's big, it's impressive and can't fail to get your attention. The Romans knew how to make concrete, and used it to erect a huge dome for the temple. It was, and is, magnificent inside, especially the "eye" at the top of the dome, a wide opening to the sky. Also, take a walk around the outside, to see the brickwork, foundations and remnants of marble facings (lots of good stuff has been stripped away over the centuries, including the bronze interior of the dome).
In the Piazza della Rotonda by the Pantheon, you can take horse carriage rides, just relax in the cafe or run around the fountain.

Piazza Navona - The Piazza Navona is a great for families because it's just so big and spread out - it was a stadium for horse races and athletic events in ancient Rome. Even in the middle of summer, the piazza doesn't feel crowded, and it has three great fountains.

In the center is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, with a big obelisk, four big guys representing the Nile, Danube, Ganges, Plata, plus a chunky lion and feisty looking horse dipping his legs in the water. The two other fountains are also fun, with chubby cherubs holding onto big fishes for dear life and chipmunk-cheek figures spouting water.

Walk along the Tiber River - Need a break from antiquity? Take a walk from Piazza Campo de' Fiori, then down along the Tiber River north, toward Castel Sant'Angelo. From Campo de' Fiori, it's just a couple of blocks to the river - there are wide sidewalks, shaded with trees, and it's nice on even on a hot day. As you walk along, stop to check out the bridges along the way.
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