The Roman Empire spread throughout Italy and across much of Europe, so it’s not surprising relics of their ancient world are found beyond just Rome. In fact, some of the best places for kids to get a sense of how the ancient Romans lived are elsewhere in Italy.
It’s true, in Rome they’ll see the grandeur that was Imperial Rome in impressive public monuments and buildings like the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, the Arch of Tutus and ruins of the Forum. But in these grand public buildings they get little sense of how people lived. Homes, shops and places where local people gathered bring history to life for kids, who can relate on a more personal level and compare to their own lives.
In AD 17, when Vesuvius exploded and engulfed both Pompeii and Herculaneum, it covered the former in ash, but engulfed Herculaneum in molten lava, encasing the entire town in a solid mass of pumice and ash 30–40 feet thick. This deep, airtight seal protected the buildings, contents and even art from plundering weather and inept early excavation methods. And, when at last it was excavated, the artifacts were not stripped and sent to city museums as they were at Pompeii, so everything is still there.
Instead of heavy falling ash crushing and collapsing buildings as in Pompeii, lava filled Herculaneum like rising water, supporting walls and roofs as it rose. So you’ll see multi-storied homes, staircases and doors in place, along with wooden furniture, textiles and even food, telling us about everyday life here. Colorful frescoes paint the walls of patrician homes and the village bakery has bronze baking pans and ovens and grain mills in its yard. Weaver’s and a dye shop still have the looms and dye pots; drinking cups stand on the table in a neighborhood bar. Herculaneum is smaller and less crowded than Pompeii, with highlights closer together and easier to explore.
Villa Romana del Casale
Most ancient sites in Sicily are Greek, but in the town of Enna, a landslide buried a magnificent Roman villa, preserving it almost intact. One of the best-preserved anywhere in the Roman Empire, with 50 rooms excavated, the
villa still includes most of the original decoration. More than 35,000 square feet of beautiful mosaic floors have been uncovered, with intricately detailed scenes from daily life, mythological themes and scenes of hunting wild animals used in gladiator contests. In the beautiful thermal baths kids learn about the Romans’ sophisticated system of heating and cooling water. The villa is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Arena di Verona (Roman Amphitheater)
Built about AD 290, Verona’s arena is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheaters. It retains four arches of the outer wall and the entire of the interior walls with vaulting seating intact. It is used for concerts, shows and, in the summer, for one of Europe’s most important opera festivals. Our kids loved being able to explore the vaulted walls and climb up into its stone seating to imagine the Roman spectacles that once took place here. In the summer they can pose (for a price) with fully costumed “gladiators” outside the arena. Because the arena is more complete than Rome’s Colosseum, with its floor in place, it’s easier to picture it in its original use.
Most museums tend to be boring for children — they have to be quiet, they may not be interested in the exhibits and they can’t touch anything. At the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, kids are encouraged to run around, play and have fun while learning. The beloved museum will safely reopen in 2021 for kids and families to run, play and touch exhibits as they used to, and now is a great time to plan a visit next year.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
We’ve seen our fair share (and then some) of drama, trials and tribulations this year, so any reason to celebrate or plan a trip is an exciting opportunity. For the chocolate lovers and sweet aficionados in your crew, Zürich should be on your list this year or next — for many reasons, but specifically for the Lindt Home of Chocolate.
You could say Osaka is a shapeshifter among cities. Japan’s third-largest city, running at a somewhat slower pace than Tokyo, is a patchwork of big business districts, pretty residential areas and beautiful parks. By night, several of its neighborhoods take on an alluring theme park ambiance. The most obvious is Dōtonbori, an upscale retail oasis that, after sunset, becomes a neon-lit maze of restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, arcades, department stores and massive souvenir emporiums.
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
If you are a lover of thrill rides and rollercoasters, you better start thinking about a future trip to test out some new ones in Orlando, Florida’s, theme parks. Throughout the next year, some theme parks are expecting a number of thrilling additions and experiences for willing guests. From two long-anticipated coasters slated to open next year in Walt Disney World to a yet-to-be-announced Jurassic Park roller coaster set to open in Universal Orlando, thrill-seekers and coaster fanatics will be in awe.