Interview with Roman Writer Lucia
Lucia Marani is a freelance journalist based in Rome who devotes herself to all things parenting and raising her two little boys. After years in the newsroom, she decided to get in touch with her creative side, working on making documentaries and creative writing. This prompted her to write her first travel guide, 'Rome with Kids,' a comprehensive guide to fun things to do in Rome with Kids. As traveling is a major part of her life, having visited 29 countries, Lucia is always looking for kid-friendly vacation spots and has a natural intuition to find the best family adventures from a local perspective. We sat down with Lucia to talk about her process of finding writing her very first guide, raising little Romans, and the cinematic beauty that is Rome.
Roman Writer Lucia Marani
"It’s a beautiful city with a kind of magic light! ... a kind of golden shade that makes every out-of-the-way bits of the city stand out like there’s a cinematographer at work behind the scenes."
Q: Describe Rome in your own words.
Well, my opinion is naturally partisan, but I think Rome has it all: immense artistic and cultural treasures, delicious food, nice people, sunny weather from April to late October. It’s a beautiful city with a kind of magic light! I’d say it’s a kind of golden shade, that makes every out-of-the-way bits of the city stand out like there’s a cinematographer at work behind the scenes. As for the locals, Romans welcome every chance to savor life and take little breaks in everyday’s routine to do so. To give an example, if they are on the way for an appointment, instead of taking the shortest route, be punctual and direct way, they would probably choose to take a detour and walk down a scenic street and be a little late! This peculiar time management makes life in this city less efficient if compared to other capitals, but at the same time more pleasant. In Rome, you should take things as they come- and they often come unexpectedly.
Q: What is your favorite route to take in Rome with your children?
I especially love the Gianicolo and Trastevere route, which is perfect to unwind during weekends. We start watching the gun that blasts at noon from the cave under Piazzale del Gianicolo. Then, I love letting them play by one of my favourite spots, the Acqua Paola Fountain before we walk towards Trastevere. There, we can treat ourselves to a good lunch in a nice trattoria. After, we would wander through the alleys with no special destination in sight, just discovering the city as we walk, following the curiosity of the moment. You can find the completed route with all the details within my latest guide!
Q: Rome is known as the "Eternal City," with both travelers and locals sharing the same space, what sets apart your approach to Rome from the traditional way of exploring Rome?
I wrote this guide with children in mind, so you’ll find a lot of spots for a good pizza and gelato! Seriously, I know that in a gigantic area like the historic center, the risk for visitors is to dash from one highlight to another, trying not to miss that Caravaggio or that museum. But this may make it difficult to enjoy the trip, especially if children are throwing tantrums, because they are overtired or not so involved in the visits. I tried to strike the right balance between adults and children’s interests, and the 1:1 ratio seems to be working well with our family. We start the day with one spot for the children, then one for adults in turn, and so on.
Q: If there was one place in Rome where you can go to every day, where would it be?
The tiny Isola Tiberina, the only urban island in the river Tiber. It’s a place I love and where I treasure some beautiful memories. It is located between Trastevere and the Ghetto; you can reach it from two bridges on both sides of the river bank, and is just at a short walk from the Mouth of Truth or Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. During the summer, there is an open-air cinema festival, temporary bars, and restaurants all along the side of the river. You can also have a fantastic view of the Ponte Rotto from the far eastern end of the embankment. There is also a famed traditional trattoria open all year round, at the beginning of Ponte dei Quattro Capi.
Q: There are so many historical and cultural things to do in Rome, it's sometimes overwhelming, what has it been like raising your children in a cosmopolitan city with so much historic richness and cultural traditions?
Some time ago, my children realized they are the last inhabitants of a city that is 2770 years old, and this discovery made them proud and more confident in saying that they are “today’s Romans,” which has a special meaning to them! What makes Rome so special is also the fact that kids are exposed to endless, free experiences of beauty, basically just stepping in a church or a square, and for parents, this is an exceptional opportunity to help their little ones shape their personal tastes. Monuments and special places are more like everyday friends: my children’s favourite right now are Saint Peter’s Dome and the Colosseum. The funny thing is that you can find yourself driving with them to the doctor, waiting for the green light just a few meters from the Colosseum, without even noticing these impressive monuments. Also, I love the fact that churches and special places, like the Navona Square, are free and accessible to everyone.
Q: With your background in journalism, how has this shaped your approach to traveling or travel writing?
Rome with Kids is my first travel guide, and English is not my native language. Therefore, writing it has been an interesting challenge that I am happy to undertake. To write it, I was researching a lot more than I was used to. I spoke with curators, interviewed locals and visitors, searched for the latest news and read other publications on the city. With so much material to skim through, I decided to select the most approachable, entertaining and educational activities, but I gathered so much information that drawing a list of the spots was quite difficult. I tend to go into research a little too much, so the largest part of the job was cutting down the destinations I had chosen to a manageable number! As a journalist, I strived to describe accurately each route.To write this guide, I heard their comments, and joined more Facebook groups, signed for more newsletters, asked for interviews- and when I was finally ready to, I went into the field with two reliable explorers! My kids personally tested the guide and sometimes came with me to interview people and take pictures of the places. We had a great time together! Adding 20 huge steps in a walking route when you are going down with a stroller and a child in your lap is important to note. It’s been great fun to have the opportunity to write for families, and to hit the city in search of the latest news for this guide (I’m already looking forward to updating it by Spring!).
Q: Why did you team up with Favoroute to write your travel guide based on kids?I loved the concept of digital guides written by locals. As a parent, I know that when you’re abroad with children, all you want to do is to travel as light as possible: having an easy to use a digital guide, instead of a heavy guidebook, can be helpful when you have an ice-cream in one hand. Or if you forget the book on a bench, having a digital guide on your phone can make a great difference! Also, even little ones that are not able to read can browse the pictures or the maps, so that they too can get more involved in the trip.
Q: If readers wanted to get the latest updates from you, where can they find you?
I am launching The Curious Roman, a travel blog where I share insights for parents who want to have more fun with their children in Rome- and enjoy Italian lifestyle to the fullest! You can sign up for my newsletter to receive some of my latest updates!
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