Ask Shelly: Tips for visiting Rome with toddler, senior and possibly car seat?

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When I first read this note
from a fellow Shelly (extra points for one “e”!), I thought this mom was admirably ambitious. But before I could respond, she contacted me with the news that she had since learned that she is also pregnant… with identical twins! Any of you who have visited Rome with children, taken multi-generational trips—or traveled while pregnant (x2!), please feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below, along with links to any of your own posts on these topics that may be of help.

Dear Shelly,

I just recently found your website and I love it. I have your book ordered on Amazon and should have it next week. I’ve read most of your posts about strollers (we are going to start looking for the Maclaren Triumph), car seats, the CARE strap etc. Since I don’t have your book yet and I’m impatient I thought I’d send a note, on the off chance that you might have time to reply.

We are leaving Nov. 4 with our 2-year-old and my husband’s 85-year-old mother from Indianapolis to stay in Rome for 10 nights. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I’ve been to Italy a few times before but never with a baby or a senior. I feel good about the stroller recommendation and will start working on getting the Triumph. However, I’m still confused on what to do with the car seat.

I went ahead and ordered the [Traveling Toddler] car seat strap that you suggested because I love the idea of strapping Alex to luggage and rolling him around and I’m sure he would be more comfortable in the seat. However I’m not sure about using the car seat in Italy. We will be relying on chauffeured cars, trains, and bus trips to get around to other cities from our home base in Rome. I read on your site that a lot of these cities don’t require car seats by law, etc.

My goal is a safe, comfortable baby and parents who don’t bring bulky heavy things they don’t need. What would you do in my situation? To bring the car seat to Rome or not to bring the car seat to Rome that is the question? Any info recommendations on my specific need would be greatly appreciated.



First, let me say immediately that the “don’t require car seats by law” clause I referred to with regard to New York City, San Francisco, and most major European cities, concerns only taxis and chauffeured private vehicles, but not rental cars you pay for and drive yourself; odd and somewhat confusing, I realize. Safety, however, is its own concern here. (Have you seen Italians drive!?)

Bringing the car seat?

I leave it to you whether you want to bring the car seat from home or not. I agree that for the long flight, at 2 years old, he may be more comfortable in a car seat and more easily contained by the car seat buckles than the airplane seat buckle if you think he might be a “flight risk” (some kids have more of an issue with this than others).

Not bringing the car seat?

For the case of not bringing the car seat, you might consider using CARES on the flight, which anyone considering can read more about in my detailed CARES review and in Car Seat Alternatives. It looks like you already entered to win a CARES in my current giveaway, so good for you!

You can also rent a car seat in Rome for just the time you would need it – or a stroller for that matter – from the Rome baby gear rental agency listed on my site.

Around Rome with seniors and strollers:

While in Rome, public transportation and trains will provide freedom from car seats with adequate safety and is usually a great way to explore. However, if you hope to do much sightseeing in and around Rome with both a stroller and a senior citizen (and a pregnant lady with jetlag!), a hop-on/hop-off bus pass in Rome for a couple of days might be just the thing to help you all see the more spread out city sights comfortably without the extra stops, navigation, and mileage put on by seeing Rome as “a Roman.” You can save your legs for walks to the sights closer to your lodgings, rather than the not-so-scenic Metro system. The lower deck of the bus is even wheelchair-accessible—and therefore stroller-friendly.

Here are the Rome Hop-on Hop-off Stops:


1.    TERMINI – Largo di Villa Peretti – in front of the main entrance at the Roman Museum, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
2.    SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE – Via Liberiana 16 – the side of Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
3.    COLOSSEO – Via Celio Vibenna
4.    CIRCO MASSIMO – Opposite Piazzale Ugo La Malfa
5.    ISOLA TIBERINA – Piazza di Monte Savello ATAC bus stop
6.    BOTTEGHE OSCURE – Via Botteghe Oscure
7.    CHIESA NUOVA – Piazza della Chiesa Nuova (Corso Vittorio Emanuele)
8.    SAN PIETRO – Opposite Caffè San Pietro, no. 36 (for Vatican city)
9.    PONTE SANT’ANGELO – Piazza Sant’Angelo opposite the Castle 
10.    PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE – wait for the bus in front of the “Gusto Restaurant
11.    PIAZZA NAVONA – Corso Rinascimento
12.    PIAZZA VENEZIA – Museo Vittoriano, side of “colonna Traiana” Monday to Friday ATTENTION: the side of Piazza Ara Coeli on Sundays and Bank Holidays (without sign)
13.    TRITONE – Via del Tritone
14.    PIEMONTE – Via Piemonte
15.    VIA VENETO – Via Boncompagni corner Via Veneto
16.    PIAZZA BARBERINI – On the square beside the Optician shop 
17.    REPUBBLICA – Piazza della Repubblica corner Via Terme di Diocleziano

You can check out more details about the Rome hop-on/hop-off here. Children 5 and under ride free. You might also be interested in the hop-on/hop-off addition that includes the river boat—extra fun for the toddler and a nice way to see the old city.

As someone just about to head down the coast with 4 generations of family myself, I salute and admire you for undertaking this trip with your extended family! 😉  I would love to hear how it goes.

Good luck & safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
https://travelswithbaby.com/   twitter   facebook

PS This photo is a snapshot I took of the Roman Forum, one of my favorite places on earth. Someday I hope a small smidgen of my ashes will be scattered in a corner there.

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