Rome: we interview Isabella

What’s your connection with Rome?
“I was born and bred in Rome, and came to Lugano in 2001, when I got married. Since then I have been taking care of my family and kids and I also do charity work. Recently I have started a new adventure and have become a Coach; whenever I miss Rome, I take my kids and go back there, to visit relatives and old friends.”

Who is Isabella?

Isabella, still Roman at heart, has been living in Lugano for many years, with her husband, two children aged 10 and 12, and her dog Pixi.




What do we need to see if we want to travel to Rome with kids?
“Rome is huge but the historic center is quite compact, and you can visit it on foot easily. The best way to discover it is to buy a map and start walking…. and keep going! As an alternative, if you have kids, you could take one of those hop on/hop off buses and get off where you want, to see the most beautiful monuments.

One place that you can’t miss is the  Foro Romano, an archaeological area stretching from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, which is flanked by the Fori Imperiali. A Foro represented the very center of Republican Rome.

Piazza Navona, is a masterpiece of Roman Baroque, with its fountains and churches.

Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps: You cannot visit Rome without going to Piazza di Spagna, admire the fountains called Barcaccia and then head up to Trinità dei Monti.

Castel Sant’ Angelo  and the  Vatican Museums: from Ponte Sant’Angelo (Sant’Angelo’s bridge), which links the historic center to the Rione Monti and the Vatican, you will be able to take the most impressive photos of the city.

If you intend to visit a few museums, it’s best to book the visit in advance, to avoid long queues. This is especially true in case of the Sistine Chapel, one of the city’s highlights, with its renowned fresco by Michelangelo: the “Last Judgement”.

Galleria Borghese is located within the park of Villa Borghese: people say it  is the home of the most precious art collection in the world, including “Apollo e Daphne” by Bernini and “Paolina Bonaparte” by Canova.

The Pantheon: the temple dedicated to all Roman ancient Gods, now converted into a Christian basilica.”

And what do we need to do in Rome with kids?
“Definitely visit the  Colosseum, the largest amphitheater in the world. This UNESCO site is where, in ancient Rome, the gladiator games used to take place

Another must-see is the  Trevi fountain, one of the largest and most important in Rome; a legend says that if you want to come back to Rome, you need to turn your back to the fountain and throw a coin in it.

Saint Peter’s basilica is the symbol of Vatican City and mother of all Catholic churches in the world. Inside you can admire the magnificent Saint Peter’s Baldachin by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the major figure in the world of Italian Baroque.

The Mouth of Truth  is another symbol of Rome; a legend says that it will bite the hand of anyone who lies! So dare your kids to put their hands in the mouth!

Piazza del Popolo with the Twin Churches:  a peculiarity of this square is that if you place your ear on the wall on one end, another person stands at the other end – speaking – you will hear his or her voice clearly and have the impression that that person is standing next to you.

and its cannon Gianicolo is a col in Rome from where you can admire the city in all its splendor. At the very top of the col there’s a cannon which shoots a blank every day at noon.

The Aventine Keyhole:  looking through the peephole of the gate of the Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta (Priory of the Knights of Malta) you will notice that, amazingly, the vista is centered on Saint Peter.

Piazza Campo dei Fiori  is a Saturday morning destination, with its colourful market and  freshly-baked pizza.

Ludoteca Amélie: you can leave your kids there for a couple of hours and go shopping!”

What’s the best season to visit the city?
“Rome is a city for all seasons, and you can eat outdoors all year round, mostly. The weather is most pleasant in the springtime and fall, if you plan to do a lot of walking.

What’s the best way to get to Rome?
“The best way to get to Rome, from Switzerland at least, is by train. Termini Station is right in the center of the city. Thanks to the new generation of high-speed trains, Rome is now very near… and the Italian landscape is spectacular.

A restaurant (or more) that you would recommend…

Salotto 42, Piazza di Pietra

Hotel Locarno, Via della Penna

Piazza Campo dei Fiori

Gina – Via di San Sebastiano

Ginger – Via Borgognona


Salumeria Roscioli – Via dei Giubbonari

Galletto – Piazza Farnese

Taverna Trilussa – Via del Politeama

Ercoli, Viale Parioli

Pizzeria Ai Marmi a Trastevere

Bubi’s, via Vincenzo Gravina

The best fried foods (do taste the artichokes):
Al pompiere – Via S.M. Calderari

The best ice-cream:
Gelateria La Romana

Truffle ice-cream at the ice-cream parlour  Tre Scalini  in Piazza Navona

Can you recommend three hotels (in three different price ranges)?

Hotel Hassler,  Piazza della Trinità dei Monti

The Telegraph Suites, Via del Mancino

Hotel Anahi, Via della Penna

Something special that one can’t find in guidebooks…
“Take a walk around Villa Borghese and rent a bike or a ricjkshaw.

Next time I go to Rome I’s like to take the kids to visit the MAXXI Museum, which opened a few years ago only and was designed by the archistar Zaha Hadid.”

A little souvenir to take home:
“Kids will surely like a gladiator costume, adults a book on Rome’s fountains”.

Isabella’s “secrets”….
“take a picnic basket with a plaid, tablecloths, cutlery and coffee from da  Gina  in Via di San Sebastianello and then walk up to Trinita dei Monti, Pincio  and  Villa Borghese.  Find a quiet spot to have lunch and enjoy the atmosphere.

A boat cruise on the  Tevere  river, to go to  Ostia Antica  to see the archaeological excvations, and maybe have lunch by the beach.”

Around Rome
Villa Adriana,  the famous residence of Emperor Adrian and  Villa d’Este  with its 100 fountains, both located in  Tivoli,  30 kms from Rome.

Cinecittà World,  a cinema/ TV-inspired amusement park in Castel Romano.

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