Not that it did rain in Rome while we were there – the weather gods smiled down upon us, and the sun shone all week – but if it is raining in Rome, and you have Small People on tow – then Explora has to be the best possible place in the city you can spend a few hours.
As Rome’s only dedicated Children’s Museum, Explora works on an appointment only basis. This is great for a few reasons: – a) You can turn up and pre-book a slot to work around what else you have planned for that day. b) You can use any forthcoming visit as blackmail for children with wilting history enthusiasm. And perhaps best of all – c) as Explora limits the number of visitors per session, meaning that the place doesn’t get over run – it gives you more space to explore this big Museum full of interactive exhibits!
Built in an ex-tram warehouse, this regenerated area is only a few steps away from the Piazza del Poppolo. We popped in on our way to Villa Borghese (we were lost!) and made our booking for later that afternoon. Although this place is aimed at the under 12’s, I was slightly worried that the 9 year old might be a little too “grown up” for it, but I needn’t have… Explora is split into four sections, Environment, Economy, Technology and Communication, and I think there’s something to keep every child happy…
Small boy was of course over the moon with just about every hands on activity he could get his hands on (especially the fire station and the huge water experimentation base!) – it really is perfect for his age group. Thankfully The Nine Year Old’s imagination was captured by the city system, where you get to create an “identity”, find a “job” and earn “money”. This kept her busy for quite some time, and we also had great fun in the “super-market” with it’s fabulous range of Italian Foods to “buy”… Here she dealt with nightmare customers (me!) who insisted on buying “the most ridiculous things” (her words!). She also proved to be a wise bank teller in refusing to allow one particular customer (also me) to fritter their imaginary life savings away on frivolous things. I somehow don’t think she believes in the mantra that the customer is always right!
There are benches dotted around for small folk to park their adults whilst they run riot in a safe and secure environment, and plenty of friendly helpers on hand to explain exhibits in English if necessary. There’s also a really good cafe in the reception area, and a great shop selling all manner of educational toys. Actually, forget what I said about a rainy day – find time for Explora in a family visit to Rome, it’s great for the kids to let their hair down whilst really learning something, and best of all you get to take a couple of hours out and put your feet up!
PS. There’s also a good outdoor play space too which you don’t have to have an appointment for, so it’s worth remembering if you are on the look out for a playground in Rome!
PPS. Don’t forget to enquire about the great workshops available when you book – our two were desperate to make their own pizzas, but we were too late that day, so they will just have to make them at home instead…
Admission: €8 per person/child (no entry without children obviously) €5 for under 3’s…
Address: Via Flaminia, 80/86 – 00196, Rome
Tel: +39 06 3613776