By and large, Rome is highly child-friendly, with some lovely areas and suburbs for families to live in, and Roman children seem able to navigate congested traffic, packed public transport and busy streets like pros before their fifth birthday. On the other hand, for expats with kids, the Eternal City might seem a little overwhelming.
But try not to worry – Rome is a fantastically colourful and cultured place for children of all ages, and with pizza and gelato on almost every corner, delicious treats are never in short supply.
Challenges for expat parents in Rome
Navigating a new culture and language can present significant challenges for expat parents in Rome. The bureaucratic processes, from obtaining residence permits to enrolling children in school, can be daunting and time-consuming.
Moreover, finding suitable housing in a desirable neighbourhood that balances proximity to good schools, work, and social amenities is often a top concern. Expat parents are encouraged to connect with local real estate experts and expat communities to share experiences and get practical advice.
Education in Rome
There’s no doubt that expats with children moving to Rome will have a lot to think about, especially regarding education. There are plenty of schools in Rome to choose from, including international schools, but like anywhere else in the world, these vary in quality and curriculum. It’s advised that parents consider these factors in order to have an idea of what they want before they start researching.
If opting for a local school, parents should look into extracurricular activities and ask around about whether any other expat families are at the school. Football (soccer) and tennis are popular, and children may participate in tournaments or competitions, while art and music may also keep children entertained and busy.
Parent networks in Rome
Expat parents can engage with each other through the schools, daycare centres, or extracurriculars their children attend. There are also social media groups online for mothers and parents in Rome, which often arrange meet-ups to socialise and offer a great way to make friends and meet people in the city.
For new arrivals, joining a parent network can be a lifeline, providing support, advice, and local knowledge that is invaluable when settling into a new city. These networks can be found through local community centres, international clubs or online platforms such as Meetup or Facebook groups.
Find out more about joining clubs and meeting people on our Lifestyle in Rome page.
Entertainment for kids in Rome
When in Rome, do as the Roman mums do and avoid the tourist sites. These can sometimes be pricey and, for those with very young children, may end up a bit of a wasted experience.
Most Roman museums are free to children under the age of six. For EU citizens up to the age of 18, tickets are either free or heavily discounted. Non-EU expat parents should keep an eye out for free admission days. These happen monthly and can be found online.
Many Roman parks are lovely, especially on a summer afternoon, but parents should always research before they go. Not all of Rome’s parks are in good condition or friendly locations.
The Villa Doria Pamphili in the Monteverde quarter is always a fantastic option. Its spacious gardens are great for picnics and ball games, while the 17th-century villa is the cherry on top for art-loving parents. As for playgrounds, the Villa Ada on Via Salaria has well-maintained swings, slides and other play equipment.
For a touch of whimsy and wonder, the Bioparco di Roma offers an enchanting escape where children can marvel at a variety of wildlife in the heart of the city. It's not only an opportunity to see animals but also a chance to learn about conservation efforts.
The Explora Museum, dedicated to children, provides interactive exhibits that blend learning with play, perfectly tailored for curious young minds. It's a place where hands-on activities are designed to engage and educate children in a fun and immersive environment.
For those wanting to take the kids to the movies, there are many English-language cinemas. Alcazar and Baberini are the best. For something much more unusual, treat them to a children’s puppet show at Teatro Verde or Teatro San Carlino. Parents looking for outings with a more educational slant should head to the Central Children’s Library on Via San Paolo alla Regola for English games and books.
For more information on family-friendly entertainment in Rome, parents can visit the official Italian tourist information website, which provides updated details on attractions, events, and discounts for family activities.
►For more on entertainment in the city, read Lifestyle in Rome
►For more on the schooling system, see Education and Schools in Italy
Are you an expat living in Rome?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rome. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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