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The Pere Lachaise Cemetary

Rome is not a very child friendly city. So when the ice cream has been dropped and the dummy spat here's what you can do to raise morale.

Villa Borghese

This vast park was the former summer retreat of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, and his Villa still houses an important sculpture collection. Not that the kids will want to see that; they'll be too busy exploring this vast park packed with exciting thing to do and see. A visit here also provides welcome relief from the heat and bustle of summertime Rome.

Top of their Villa Borghese list will be:

The Bioparco

When Rome Zoo changed itself into the Bioparco, the keepers did the unthinkable, and reduced the number of animals. Then, they expanded each animal's area, took away the bars, and tried to recreate a more natural habitat. The results are impressive, as is the enormous body of research the Bioparco conducts into animal behaviour.

Your little animals will enjoy seeing the 198 different species that live in the Bioparco, as well as learning about conservation and animal welfare. There are weekend activities and entertainments for the kids, all included in the entry price.

Afterwards, a visit to the Museo Civico di Zoologia, with its collection of rare species and skeletons, reveals what's under the skin for budding David Attenboroughs.

Villa Borghese (Junior)

When they have pointed excitedly at every animal or skeleton in sight, take them to the kids section of the park, where they can burn of any excess energy on hired bicycles or peddling boats around the river. If all that is still not green enough, then more delights await them at Rome's largest park, at

Villa Doria Pamphili

This park has lots of formal gardens, mini parks, fountains and shady pines, but the kids will probably head straight for the lake to feed the ducks and swans, and marvel at the turtles. There are plenty of swings, slides, roundabouts and frames to clamber on, and pony rides around the park for children who can't survive without the smell of hot horse in the morning.

In fact, really keen horse-mad kids can take riding lessons at the Ippodromo di Tor di Valle, and can also visit an exhibition on the history of all sports horsey.

Get Wet - Intentionally

If the children are desperate to get wet after seeing so many fountains they can't climb into in Rome, take them to the massive aquatic park Hydromania, which has the fastest water slide in Italy. You can all race down side by side down the six lanes before landing in the enormous pool. There is a wave machine, water spout and dedicated kids play pools with more gentle slides to squeal their way down.

The newest aquapark in Rome is Aquafelix, where you can ride the slides in a rubber dingy, or relax in the jacuzzi and bask in the lagoon. Kids under 1 metre high get in free! Rival park Aqualand has six swimming pools, three devoted to smaller children, and older kids can take a rubber dingy down the river. After all that slashing about, there are pine woods with picnic tables where your little fish can refuel, ready for the next adventure.

Actually, best to let lunch go down before taking them to Rome's largest fairground,

LunEur

This great funfair has lots of kid-sized rides, from a Cinderella castle roundabout, bumper cars, and a traditional carousel with painted horses. They can ride the El Paso mini railroad, fly with Dumbo, or get wet with Nessie the Loch Ness monster.

Big kids of all ages will love the massive slide that lands everyone giggling into a dry ballpool, while the less daring will appreciate a safe netted adventure play area, also with slides and ball pools. Dads will be in their element with test of strength side stalls and all the family can enjoy great views from the top of the ferris wheel.

No Strings Attached

Puppet theatre is great for kids, who quickly get involved in the story regardless of the language it is presented in. The Teatro Verde puppet and musical shows encourage the kids to participate, and they can even tour backstage to see how a theatre works. There are only two shows a week, so you will need to book ahead. The charming and cheeky traditional stories of Pulcinella and Colombina are presented by the Teatro Pulcinella al Gianicolo, an Italian version of Punch and Judy, but with much better costumes!

Tecnolandia

For children who prefer technology to theatre, Tecnolandia offers them the chance to push, pull, twiddle and tweak in a range of hand-on 'experiments'. Staff also demonstrate how gadgets actually work, fascinating for parents who still can't work the DVD recorder.

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