Olives & Morra
Obelisk Odyssey
Small Shops
Proud Bersagliere
Languages of Italy
Amusement Parks
Italian for Kids
Barista - Beverages
Mysterious Etruscans
Family Dining
Italy Guidebooks
Italian Vacation
Italian Cars
Italian Fashion
Italian Games
Italian Holidays
Money & Measures
Kids In Rome
Meet the Gladiators
Music of Italy
Packing Tips
Pasta for Kids
Italian Puppets
Statues of Florence
Italian Geology
Savor Siena


Obelisk Odyssey in Italy

Kids Europe Newsletter


Italy is wonderful for family vacations! You can combine relaxation with sightseeing, shopping, and great dining. All the while interacting with the friendly and courteous people of Italy .

While in Rome recently, I kept finding myself gazing at one or another of the magnificent obelisks that adorn this city -- more than any other place in the world! Each obelisk has a tale to tell that illuminates thousands of years of history. This newsletter visits a few obelisks, presents some Italian games and reviews two family apartments, one in Rome and the other in Venice .

P L Byrne

Mission : Obelisk

Play Find the Obelisk Across Rome

There is nothing like a treasure hunt to focus and energize your family while you see the sights. An especially good set of treasures are the obelisks of Rome . There are many of them, they stand out, and are a great centerpiece for a family photo. The Italy Discovery Journal has a list of 18, each with a capsule history, location and dimensions. Here is a sampling of some favorites:

Lateran Obelisk: Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano. The oldest obelisk in Rome and the tallest true obelisk in the world, it was made in 1600BCE in Egypt . In 357CE the son of Constantine the Great, Constans II had a special ship built to bring it to Rome to decorate the Circus Maximus, the largest chariot racing stadium in the city. It was dug out of the rubble in 1587 and placed in its current location.

Vatican Obelisk: St. Peter's Square. A favorite because of the apparently true tale of its raising. Silence on pain of death was the order as men and horses strained to raise this massive obelisk. The effort seemed on the point of failure as the ropes stretch and the obelisk hung from the massive scaffolding erected to raise it when a sailor realized that to avoid having the ropes snap under the strain, they needed to be dampened and cooled. He shouted, "Water on the ropes!" The engineers in charge, instead of killing him, realized he was right and formed a bucket brigade from the nearby Tiber river, soaked the ropes and raised the obelisk which stands taller than Bernini's towering, bronze baldaquin inside the church,

Flaminian Obelisk: Piazza del Popolo. Marking the start of the ancient Via Flaminia, this obelisk was carved in 1400BCE in Egypt and was formerly erected in the Circus Maximus.

Piazza Navona Obelisk: This relatively new obelisk was made in Rome in about 100CE for a temple to the Egyption godesses Isis. A bit of a turnabout, because a number of obelisks in Rome were stolen from a temple to Isis in Egypt .

Minerva Obelisk: This miniature obelisk that originated in Egypt sits on the back of an elephant by the famous artist Bernini. The elephant is a very nice sculture that happens to have his rear end facing the home of the artist's rival. Really nice piazza to find.

Special Italian Games

Have a Riot in Italian

These Italian games are fun in their own right whether or not you use them to practice your Italian words and numbers.

Tombola is similar to Bingo, but both easier and more fun according to my family. The layout of the game cards seems to be easier to follow than that of a bingo card. And the nicknames that each of the numbers have make for a lot of joking around the tombola board. English translation provided.

Mercante in Fiera , the Merchant at the Fair, is a card game that need six or more people to really get going. There is a little luck, some auctions, betting and prize winning. You can use the game to practice Italian vocabulary or not. Rules in English are provided.

For Kids Only

Travel Guide and Games for Children

Kids Europe products are for kids only! I wrote the guidebook for my children and their cousins to help them enjoy Italy , each in their own way, so there are activities for all kinds of children. There are also many insights into Italian culture, for example, do you know what "bella figura" means? It is at the foundation of the Italian sense of style. Some bits of history are presented with a focus on highlights that will interest children., for instance, the period of the Black Death is scary and fascinating and we get to explain some of the effects it had on Italy .

Flaminio Vacation Apartment in Rome

Piazza del Popolo - Borghese Gardens

We really like this apartment in Rome because it is within walking distance of many of the famous sights in Rome and relatively affordable. It is also near a metro station to transport you to farther locations such as the Coliseum. There is lots for kids in this area, the Borghese Gardens and the Rome Children's Museum are very close.

The apartment has two bedrooms, two baths and a sofa bed for two more, if you wish. A terrace allows you to enjoy the best of Roman weather. Conveniences abound with air conditioning, microwave, drip coffee pot, full refrigerator, Internet connection, DVD and CD players, fax machine and telephone. What else do you need?

Ca' Bella Family Apartment in Venice

Crowned by a Rooftop Terrace

Next to the Campo San Polo in the heart of Venice , this apartment provides the perfect balance to the narrow, busy alleys of the queen of the seas. The decorating is serene, emphasizing wood tones, black and beige. You can glory in the rooftops of Venice from a brand new deck on the top of the building.

With two bedrooms, two baths and a single bed, it will sleep five very comfortably. You can enjoy views from the windows down to the little campo behind or the calle in front, but best of all is relaxing on the rooftop.

Explora, the Children's Museum of Rome

Interactive Museum near Piazza del Popolo

Kids can get tired of walking, ruins, and churches so this modern, interactive museum lets them focus on serious play. Inside, there is a model city to play a role in and, outside, a play ground.

Reservations required.

Quick Links

Italy Discovery Journal

Children's Coverage is Free with Travelex Travel Insurance

Bags for Kids and Parents at eBags

High quality up-to-date maps of Italy from the online map store


Have a wonderful time in Italy whether you travel by plane, auto, or armchair.

Join the Discover Italy mailing list
Vacation Rentals In Italy

Rome Apartments

Piazza Popolo, Rome

Sleeps 4+ 2

4 night minimum

Perfect Family Apt

Apartments in Rome

Vacation in Tuscany Villa in Tuscany
Villa Colle

Colle di Val d'Elsa


Sleeps 2+2/Apt

5 nights minimum

Great Value

Walk to Hill Town

Vacation Apartments in Tuscany San Gimignano

Comfortable Convenient Apartment in Florence
Ponte Vecchio

Center  of Florence

Sleeps 2+ 2

1 bedroom,  1 bath

1 week minimum

Perfect Value & Location for Small Family

Venice Apartments

Venice, btw Rialto - St Mark's

Sleeps 5

2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath

Real Noble Palace

Apartment Venice

Rome Apartments, Home in Rome, Roman Homes
Via Veneto


Sleeps 2 + 2

4 night minimum

Convenient Location, Central & Comfortable

Rome apartments

Villa in Tuscany pool, castle
Borgo Bucine

Arezzo, Tuscany

Sleeps 2-7

Magical Castle and 

Vacation Village

Luxury Apartment Arno View Central Florence


Florence, Central, Arno View

Sleeps 6

3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

Daily Maid Service

Total Royal Luxury 

Rome Apartments, roman homes

Rome, Prati by Sant'Angelo

Sleeps 4 + 2

4 night minimum

Location and Value 

for a Family

Rome apartments

Tuscany Villa
Castello Niccolo

near Florence on Chianti Estate 

Sleeps 2 -12

Villas & Apartments

Tuscan Castle & Wine

Rental in Florence Piazza Santa Croce
Palazzo Santa Croce

Florence, Santa Croce

Sleeps 2 - 8

16 apartments

Beautiful Historic Palazzo

Vistas & vinyards in the Siena countryside
Villa Sofia

Siena, Patrician Villa and Farm, Atmosphere Galore

Sleeps 2-6

Vistas & Weddings

Florence Apartment in Historic Center
Palazzo Cavaliere

Florence, Santa Croce

Sleeps 2 - 6

21 Apartments

4 night minimum

Central & Convenient

Rome Apartments, Roman Homes, Home in Rome

Rome, btw Capitoline & Trastevere

Sleeps 2-4

35 Suites

4 night minimum

Neat Neighborhood

Rome apartments, Home in Rome, Roman Homes

Rome Apartments, Roman Homes, Home in Rome
Spagna Apartment 

Spanish Steps, Rome

Sleeps 5

Luxury & Fabulous Terrace

Rome apartments, Home in Rome, Roman Homes