A few months back I posted a request for help under "Rome with a Wiggleworm". I wanted to thank you for your helpful advice, and post some of my experiences for parents headed to Italy with children. Elizabeth's app and Rome Digest were my go-to sources. It was a magical experience for all four of us - Italians are so kind to children, it made me really appreciate that aspect of their culture.
First, the few elements that made the most difference:
1. A kitchen - we had a kitchen everywhere we stayed. Our Rome hotel also had a dining terrace, which was a really wonderful asset and gave my wiggly son a place to play. All our breakfasts were at home.
2. A deck of playing cards - it kept the kids entertained, and my son mostly still(!), during meal service, particularly at nicer restaurants.
2. An agriturismo - Our excellent Umbria agriturismo Colle San Paolo conducted an art camp that our kids loved. It also meant we could explore small towns and have a yummy lunch at our leisure before picking them up at 3 pm.
* Day One - We started at Gelateria Del Teatro (outstanding - we went there many times). As it was Sunday I cooked at home. Watching the birds fly and sun set on the buildings surrounding our deck was a wonderful start to our trip.
* Day Two - During our excellent tour with Rome Driving Tours, we did a pit stop for lunch at forno at Campo de Fiori. The market wasn't great, but there were some nice strawberries to be had. Later we headed to Volpetti, recommended to us by our favorite salami shop in San Francisco. The owner who knew our salami buddies was there, and he's a bigger ham than the hocks hanging in his shop. The kids loved tasting everything and posing for silly photos with him. We bought too much and headed home for a great dinner.
* Day Three - Lunch at Chiostro del Bramante, which was lovely, quiet, convenient, delicious and quick. Dinner was at pizzaria Da Remo, where I intended to get a shot of the pizza with buffalo mozzarella but it was gone before I could press the shutter!
* Day Four - Lunch at Caffe Camerino, where my husband tried the Caffe Completo. After some failed attempts at finding a sitter, we took a deep breath and took our kids to Glass Hostaria. We shouldn't have worried - the staff couldn't have been more gracious, and the chef Christina is such a kind, interesting person (she stopped us on a street a few days later to say hello). We really enjoyed talking to her, and she sent the kids a free course a few minutes later. The look on my daughter's face when she had the ravioli with five-year-aged parmesan was priceless. The meal was excellent, and we also liked that Glass had a slightly casual vibe that made the presence of our kids (and our slightly casual attire, as we packed very lightly) more comfortable.
* Day Five - After our tour of the Vatican, I had planned to go to Pizzarium, but the heat was so intense my family was threatening mutiny. So we had a very nice lunch at Romeo (the Glass/Roscioli joint venture) and gelato at Vice Cafe instead. In the afternoon we did a food tour with Gina Tringali - fun, delicious, and one of the highlights of our trip for our daughter, who at this point is becoming utterly obsessed with food in Italy.
Day Six - Lunch at Armando al Pantheon - we not only polished off our meals, we finished the kids' pasta too. Perfect. "Why is all the food in Italy better?," my daughter asked.
Day Seven - Lunch again at Chiostro with friends, then off to Umbria, where we were invited to a dinner fundraiser for the small town's church. The scene was lively, and it was lovely to watch the kids play soccer with local kids in the piazza. (What bedtime?)
Our agriturismo had great recommendations. Restaurants included Taverna del Perugino in Citta della Pieve and notably Lillo Tatini in Panicale, where the food was delicious and a little imaginative, and the service very warm. Lillo also has a large table in its downstairs wine cellar that's perfect for families. We went truffle hunting and one night enjoyed a wonderful private wine tasting dinner at Querciolana estate--the kids played in the rain in the courtyard.
We did a cooking class with Nonna Ciana outside Siena. Our kids enjoyed their roles, got to play in the garden and were showered with hugs and attention at the delicious dinnertime.
First night was at La Bottega Ai Promessi Sposi, where we particularly enjoyed the appetizer of tiny fried shrimp. Second night was at a cooking class with Marika in Lido - also delicious. Final night was at Osteria Alle Testiere, which lived up to its reputation. The raw langoustines were outstanding - better than any amaebi sushi I've ever had, and I've had some pretty great sushi - and my daughter downed her small grilled lobster in seconds.
This ended up being quite long - thanks for hanging in there! It was more than delicious - it really led to thoughtful conversations about food and culture. Thanks for letting me share.