On The Road: Ice cream and architecture in Rome

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The Independent Travel

Arriving in Rome I see a noisy, chaotic and buzzing city bursting with stunning architecture, monuments and churches: what my daughter sees is every possible variety of ice cream – and she sees it everywhere!

Trying to ignore the call of the gelato parlour and my daughter's protests at such disregard for Italy's finest, we head to the Colosseum. It doesn't disappoint. Molly's "Are we going to see a show?" seems a perfectly valid question to ask our guide: it suggests that despite its age, and the earthquakes and pilfering it's fallen victim to over the years, the structure is in remarkably good shape. She sees it for what it was, rather than what it is now.

While the adults in the party relish its past and the gory tales of those who met their fate here, the kids are fascinated by all the walkways, steps and tunnels. As we walk along the second floor taking in the views, our guide provides a potted (and thankfully somewhat watered down) history of this incredible structure to a group of four- to seven-year-olds who seem as enchanted by the sheer scale and majesty of Italy's most famous amphitheatre as the grown-ups are by the history it embodies.

After a couple of hours of exploration, I feel that perhaps it's time to let culture take a back seat, and to succumb to the lure of that famous Italian ice cream. The variety of flavours is almost too much for a four-year-old who's never yet ventured beyond a Mr Whippy, but I'm impressed by her determination to take in all 40 flavours of gelato before making her selection. She paces up and down the display freezer for nearly 15 minutes, torn by the varieties and threatening to try the most obscure flavours (apricot or watermelon anyone?) before finally making up her mind and announcing her choice: "Vanilla please."

Footprint's Europe with Kids is on sale now (£14.99)