Can Rome be done with a stroller in tow? We think it can! Most of the advice you read online will scare you away from exploring the Eternal City with wheels (what about the cobblestone?? The stairs?? The weird looks from locals?? Gasp!). Unfortunately, B hates being in a carrier and is much too wild to let her run free in crowds, so for us a stroller is a necessity and ended up being 100% worth it to bring on our Roman Holiday.
Instead of telling you yes 100% you need a stroller in Rome, or goodness gracious you should never bring a stroller to Italy, these are our pros and cons based on experience so you can make the decision that is right for your family.
Borghese Gardens are super stroller friendly!
Holy cow is my kid the only one who needs so much gear?!? Realistically, we pack pretty light for our days out of the hotel but this always includes snacks, diapers and one favorite toy. Add to the mix weather that changes from warm and sunny to freezing and breezy as soon as the sun sets and jackets are needed all around. I don’t know about you, but I have zero interest in lugging two jackets, food, wipes etc on my back all day while walking around. Even if your stroller doesn’t have undercarriage storage space, having the handles to throw a sweater on is a game changer to lighten the load.
Where would we have put Peppa without a stroller? Can't take that joy away from B :)
Not every restaurant in Rome is going to have a highchair. I don’t know about you, but Bella eats close to nothing if she is distracted by the novelty of sitting on my lap at a meal. Hungry toddler= a toddler that won’t sleep at night and that This problem is solved by rolling the stroller up to the table. Boom! Instant highchair. Our stroller (details outlined below of what we use and why), has a seat portion that detaches from the wheels. This has saved us in a pinch when we needed a taxi (save your judgement for someone else, please. Car Seats aren’t mandatory in taxis in the states either folks, and the max speed of city driving in Rome is 30 KPH or approximately 18 miles per hour). We also brought the stroller top to the AS Roma game we went to-which means we all enjoyed the game and didn’t have to worry about Bella sliding off the chair and making a run for it! (No, it was not convenient to carry the top in, yes it was worth it to survive the game after our babysitter didn’t show up- another story for another day)
Room service breakfast made easy with our makeshift high chair!
Nap time/relax space
B would run around outside all day long if we let her. This is great and adorable, until you have somewhere to be like a timed entrance tour of the Vatican. Having somewhere to put her, that isn’t physically on me (Rome is hot, y’all!), made a huge difference in the quality of our trip. We also had the bonus of her taking an epic nap in the stroller during/after our Golf Cart tour of the city. This meant Jonathan and I got to enjoy an impromptu date night at a fabulous little trattoria serving apertivo (you buy a glass of wine and then get to enjoy a little buffet of appetizers)- a place we never would have thought to go to with a toddler.
Overall most of the sights of Rome are stroller friendly. The Colosseum even has installed ramps and elevators (who knew!?). You will, however, encounter unavoidable stairs frequently during your trip. The Vatican has a lift to the main area of the museums, but to get to the Sistine Chapel and some of the halls, you will need to go up and down stairs. You may find that in order to get from your fabulous stroll of the Borghese Gardens to Piazza del Popolo so you can find a taxi home, you have to traverse down stairs. If you aren’t willing to carry a stroller down or up sets of stairs on occasion, bringing a stroller is not right for you. This can be easily countered with the rightstroller- one that folds up easily or that detaches like ours (see notes on our stroller below!)
Stairs are unavoidable at the Vatican
Yes, the vast majority of Ancient Rome’s streets are cobblestone. That makes for a bumpy ride! If you aren’t willing to put your stroller through the stress of the streets- you may want to leave it at home. To play Devil’s Advocate, however-it is not in my personal experience that toddlers handle walking on cobblestone with a lot of grace either. This may just be a part of the vacation that falls under the “suck it up, buttercup” category.
Roman Forum- not stroller friendly!
You won’t fit everywhere
Unless you have the stroller that folds up to the size of a handbag (brilliant invention that I need to invest in!), sometimes getting around will be difficult due to your sheer size rolling that thing around. Streets are small, cafes are small, gelatarias are small. You may need to divide and conquer food stops, or plan well in advance to know where to go that will fit you comfortably!
Our favorite stroller-photo from www.nordstrom.com
We may be a rare breed that we always find the benefits to bringing a stroller tend to outweigh the costs when it comes to traveling in Italy. This may be because our stroller is incredibly versitle (not an ad- I just love this thing!). We use a Nuna Mixx. When Bella was an infant, we used the bassinet attachment while traveling which doubled as her bed so her sleeping space on the go was always consistent with her sleeping space at home (we would bring the carseat as well as part of the stroller and collapse the bassinet and store it on the bottom of the stroller on the go. All are able to be checked through complimentary as a stroller on all airlines we traveled). When she grew out of that we started using the stroller attachment. It has a full recline and sleep shade so works great for napping on the go. Since it detaches from the stroller, it makes situations that don’t accommodate strollers well super easy. It has spacious storage- even a zipper pocket where we store diapers if we don’t want to bring a diaper bag with us! The great tires and shocks system makes navigating bumpy roads a breeze. The foot bar is also removable- which is how we use it as a highchair frequently. Overall it is a killer option for traveling that we have gotten a ton of use out of!
Note- At most airports in Europe, it is impossible to have your stroller delivered to the gate on landing and instead you will have to collect it at baggage claim. This is important to remember for transfer timing if you were thinking you can get by with only carry on luggage. Also important to know that you will have some space where you are navigating the airport with a walking toddler if you didn’t also bring a toddler carrier. We have survived with using this time for Bella to run out some energy, but if you are traveling without your partner I definitely recommend bringing a toddler carrier to use while you collect your bags as well-nothing is more appealing to a 2 year old than a conveyer belt that is the perfect height to climb on!!)