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Rome Museums, Great for You and the Kids



Packed with things to do for all ages, Rome is a super family friendly city. In fact, Italians love children and it's not uncommon for a cute kid to stop them in their tracks on the street.  The eternal city is abundant with art, history and culture and museums are on the list of top attractions for just about any visitor guide. 

Rome even has its own kids museum. Explora Children's Museum is the perfect place in Rome for kids offering a range of hands-on activities and a mini life-like city featuring a post office, bank and supermarket where children (12 and under) can live like a grown up for the day. The museum organises reading activities and group fun for babies and toddlers focussed on art and science. 

Take the kids back in time with a history lesson on Ancient Rome at the Capitoline Museum where they'll see the famous she-wolf sculpture inspired by the legend of the founding of Rome.  Or treat them to a feast for the eyes with Caravaggio and Bernini masterpieces of Villa Borghese Gallery, perfectly located for a picnic and outdoor fun. 

The kids will love exploring the old secret passage at Castel Sant Angelo. For a contemporary feel, head to MACRO or MAXXI, complete with a children's outdoor courtyard. 

Whatever museum you decide to include on your Rome visit with the kids, be sure to visit the websites first for information on any upcoming children's activities like dedicated play zones, exhibitions or reading sessions. 


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National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia


Fanatics of ancient relics and artifacts will definitely want to check out the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia. On display, one can marvel at ancient Etruscan jewelry, pottery and bronze and marble sculptures excavated at Cerveteri. The collection is found in an ancient 15th century papal villa near the Parioli district and just a stone's throw away from the Villa Borghese park. Some major masterpieces are featured here including the remarkable 6th century BC Apollo from Veio (which unlike other versions is clothed), the Dea con Bambino (Goddess with a Baby) and Hercules, mutilated but with a stag. TRAM: 3, 19.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: With it's proximity to Rome's Villa Borghese park, you can combine a day of history and nature with the entire family.

Maria's expert tip: Be sure to visit room no. 9 to see one of the world's most important Etruscan art treasures, the bride and bridegroom coffin from the 6th century BC dug out of the tombs of Cerveteri.

Read more about National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia →


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Piazza Venezia


Visiting the Eternal City and not making a stop at the Vatican Museums is almost like breaking one of the ten commandments. It's where some of the world's greatest art collection is stored. The Vatican Museums are actually a part of the Vatican palaces, where popes have lived since the 1200s. Inside you'll find works such as Egyptian relics, Etruscan artifacts, Renaissance paintings and Greek and Roman sculptures and busts, all housed in maze of apartments, galleries and palaces. Let's also not forget about, perhaps what many consider to be the true gem of it all, the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo's famous Last Judgement can be seen. Entrance is free on the last Sunday of the month (9:00am-2:00pm), with last entry 90 minutes before doors close. From Monday to Saturday (9:00am-6:00pm), last entry is 2 hours before closure time. Metro: stations Ottaviano-Musei Vaticani; Cipro. Bus: 49. Tram: 19.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: 'Leave' Rome for the day and visit the independent state of Vatican City. The Vatican Museums are beyond breathtaking and a sight to see not only for Catholics but for lovers of art and history.

Maria's expert tip: Book your tickets online (http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va) and you'll avoid having to wake up at the crack of dawn to wait in line for a couple of hours. Buying your tickets online only costs you �4 more than what you'd pay at the ticket booth and is definitely worth it as you get to skip the line.

Read more about Vatican Museums →


Castel Sant'Angelo National Museum


With its dominant presence looming over the Tiber River, it's hard not to marvel at the immense landmark, Castel Sant'Angelo. The castle was originally built to serve as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian but in the 6th century, was turned into a papal fortress. Thanks to secret passage ways (as featured in the blockbuster hit Angels and Demons), popes were able to escape from danger to various palaces within the Vatican. Today, the castle has a museum where visitors can keep themselves entertained by the trap doors, ditches, draw bridges, dungeons, weapons and papal apartments. The castle also has a lovely terrace offering spectacular views of the Roman city skyline. BUS: 80, 87, 280, 492. METRO: Lepanto

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: This castle was once the tallest building in Rome and used as a fortress and castle for the Popes. Not just any museum sits in an old castle and this one is special with a terrace that overlooks the city.

Maria's expert tip: During the summer, the city of Rome often organizes outdoor events and concerts on the terrace of the castle.

Read more about Castel Sant'Angelo National Museum →


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Palazzo Barberini – Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica


The Palazzo Barberini is truly one of Rome's most precious palaces and a pioneer of Baroque style. Three great masterminds were commissioned by Barberini Pope Urban VIII to create the lavish 17th century palace: Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Since 1949, the palazzo has served as the National Gallery of Antique Art. The first floor of the gallery is a favorite among art lovers for its fine collection of 16th and 17th works including Raphael's "Fornarina," Caravaggio's "Judith Beheading Holofernes" and other paintings by Lippi and Guido Reni. Also to be admired is the noble spiraling staircase created by Borromini. BUS: 62, 150, 175, 492. METRO: Barberini

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: While the collections here are impressive, the building itself is a sight to see, built in splendid Baroque style. The palace was one of the luxurious residences of the Roman nobility of the time.

Maria's expert tip: There's a great little shop where you can you can buy some gifts that liken the relics and heirlooms of the Barberini family.

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Palazzo Massimo alle Terme – Museo Nazionale Romano
Photo courtesy of photogestion


The Baths of Diocletian (the largest imperial baths) was once the exclusive home of the Museo Nazionale Romano when it opened its doors in 1889. Throughout the years, the museum expanded so much that in 2000, it spread itself out over four different sites including the original and authentic baths. Palazzo Massimo is considered one of the leading archaeological museums because of its extensive collection of relics. Some of the museum's greatest treasures are: the collection of original Greek sculptures, the vast coin collection and the ancient Christian sarcophagi. BUS: C, H, 38, 40, 70, 71, 105, 714 or 910. METRO: Repubblica or Termini

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Not only does Palazzo Massimo feature some of the best ancient Rome and Greek art but a beautiful jewelry and coin collection in the basement that the kids will find interesting.

Maria's expert tip: Admission to this museum enables you to also visit the other parts of the national Roman museum: Palazzo Altemps, the Bathe of Diocletian, and Crypta Balbi in a 3-day time frame.

Read more about Palazzo Massimo alle Terme – Museo Nazionale Romano →


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Airport - Fco


When Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1579�1633), a lucrative art collector, decided to build a palace in Rome, his plans were big. His vision for the perfect palace was an abode that exuded over-the-top luxury and a fabulous park to go along with it. The result was the Casino Borghese where the Galleria Borghese is today. The Casino was orginally built to boast his lavish pieces of art and for elite social gatherings and parties. Today, the Galleria Borghese is one of the of the most important museums in Rome thanks to its rich collection of Baroque and Renaissance art featuring works by Raphael, Caravaggio and Correggio. BUS: 116, 490, 495, 49. TRAM: 19, 3. METRO: Flamino or Spagna.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Housing pieces by Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini and all in an 'up close and personal' display, Villa Borghese Gallery is a must for families. Why not combine your visit with a scavenger hunt or picnic in the park?

Maria's expert tip: You must make a reservation prior to going to Galleria Borghese. Reservations are made according to two hour time slots. You can buy your tickets for a specific day and time slot at www.ticketeria.it. Otherwise, reservations can be made calling 06.32810.

Read more about Galleria Borghese →


Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo  (MAXXI)
Photo courtesy of ho visto nina volare


The new kid on the block in Rome is the MAXXI museum (Museo di Arte del XXI Secolo) which opened in 2010 in the Flaminio area. The museum has the famous Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid to thank for its stunning �60 million creation. The MAXXI holds some of Italy's most prized contemporary pieces of art and is divided into two sections: "MAXXI art" and "MAXXI architecture". It also contains a library specializing in art and architecture and galleries where exhibitions and special performances are held. There is an outdoor courtyard area which often houses large scale art installations. TRAM:2. BUS:53, 217, 280, 910.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Not only the site of some of Italy's best contemporary art but great for families with their outdoor courtyard for kids to roam free Tuesdays through Sundays.

Maria's expert tip: Visit the website before your visit as they run a strong educational programming for children and occasional concerts.

Read more about Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI) →


Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma (MACRO)


What was once the location of the brewery of famed Italian beer Peroni, is now the industrial space where Rome's uber sleek contemporary art museum, the MACRO is located. The museum recently underwent a massive makeover, giving it a stylish and modern steel and glass exterior design. MACRO often showcases light installations, contemporary and pop artworks by world-renowned and emerging Italian and international artists. The collection covers pieces dating back to the 1960s through today including exhibits of works by all of Italy's post world war two artists. The museum has another site which has been built where Rome's old slaughterhouse was housed in the Testaccio area. BUS: 80, 38.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: One of the best example's of creative use of space, the MACRO is built on a the site of an old beer brewery.

Maria's expert tip: Look out for the remains of an ancient Roman house in the car park.

Read more about Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma (MACRO) →


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Piazza Venezia


Perched atop the Campidoglio hill, is one of Rome's most prominent museums, the Capitoline Museums. What makes this museum so famous is the vast amount of ancient sculptures, relics and archeological finds uncovered in and around Rome, all on display here. Visitors can witness a wide range of relics dating back to first century BC through 17th century AD. The real show stoppers are: the gargantuan statue of the great Marcus Aurelius riding a horse, a bust of the immense statue of Constantine and an ancient sculpture of the she-wolf suckling the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. BUS: 44, 64, 70, 75, 170, 492 or 628.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Rome's most important museum showcasing the best of ancient Rome is a must for the whole family.

Maria's expert tip: Kids love a mythical story, so read up about the she-wolf sculpture inspired by the legend of the founding of Rome and make this the centrepiece of your family visit.

Read more about Capitoline Museums →


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Pinciano/Flaminio/Parioli/Cassia
Explora Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma
Photo courtesy of The ShutterBabe


Explora Children's Museum is the perfect place to allow kids to be just that, kids. The museum is located near Piazza del Popolo and offers a variety of hands-on activities for kids, as many children's museums do in America. A big hit with the kids is Explora's mini life-like city where children ages 12 and under can pretend to be grown-ups for a day. The miniature town includes a post office, bank, supermarket and a gigantic fire engine. The museum also organizes a diverse children's program including reading activities and baby and toddler play groups focused on art and science.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: This unique space dedicated hands-on museum features a miniature grocery store and a bus that kids can 'drive'.

Maria's expert tip: Let the kids touch and explore and try their hand at 'driving' the bus.

Read more about Explora Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma →


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Meet Maria Pasquale

Born to Italian parents, Maria always knew Rome was her destiny, although she was raised in Melbourne.

An award winning food and travel writer, in addition to 10Best USA Today she also...  More About Maria

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