We were lucky to get an early March day of 20C and after days of sightseeing with the kids, we decided to dedicate a day to play and headed to the Villa Borghese gardens and zoo, an oasis of joviality and tranquility in this bustling city. This park is just great for a family day out. You can hire bikes or little peddle cars to help you get around the 148 acres – we remained on foot and so only saw a fraction of it.
We were staying at the Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto, which was just a short stroll to the Porta Pinciana entrance. From here we turned right in the direction of the Villa Borghese gallery and quickly came to a play area. Other mums were sat on benches and the children played for ages making a little shop at the bottom of one of the climbing frames. We then decided to head diagonally North to visit the zoo. It was about a 40 minute slow stroll, with stops to pick up stones or drink or tie shoelaces.
I have no idea how busy the zoo gets in summer, but on our balmy March day it was delightful. Unfortunately the giraffes and Tigers were elsewhere, but we still saw lots of animals the kids not seen before. Two elephants were a particular highlight for my 19-month son, and watching the chimpanzees eating lunch and the bears going for a swim. My daughter was fascinated, if slightly repulsed by the enormous snakes and their dinner of mice and baby rabbits and we were all surprised by the crocodiles in the reptile house and the wonderful giant tortoises.
We almost had an early sex education lesson as the male lion got frisky with his mate and made a huge roaring sound, which the kids enjoyed mimicking for the next hour.
Another playground gave us a welcome sit down and the kids a chance to climb. Rome zoo is definitely a good way to give the kids a day off ancient monuments, with plenty to keep you busy for several hours.
It was also a good way of tiring them out to enable me to go to the Villa Borghese gallery and enjoy the fantastic Renaissance art, while they slept!