Adventure Activities in Rome -- Try if You Dare

Adventure Activity Rome

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A museum in itself, the Eternal City is filled with countless opportunities for family adventure. If Rome visitors can resist the urge to tour the famous spots, I dare you to just spend the day outside. But, if you must visit the standard tourist sights, I urge you to throw in at least one adventure activity in Rome. Here are five Rome adventures I dare you to try.

1. Climb to the top of St. Peter's

To get your heart pumping, hike up to the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican City, (011) 39 06 6988 5435) in Vatican City. The 537 steps offer quite a family adventure. For Rome tourists who prefer not to make the trek, there's an elevator that will get you halfway up-but it costs a little more (seven Euros, vs. six Euros to walk up). Fees aside, there is something to be said for making the whole climb. You'll know when you're getting high; the walls start to slant down and inwards, almost closing you in. And eventually, it's so narrow, you have to go single file and hold a rope to make sure you don't fall. Once you reach the top, however, the view is priceless.

And for anyone who's chicken about climbing several hundred steps, listen up. My friend Natalie did it with a baby attached to her in one of those baby slings. I dare you to try THAT.

Hours: April-September 8AM-6PM, October-March 8AM-4:45PM
Admission: 7 Euros for elevator, 6 Euros for stairs

2. Stop counting calories

Even better, dare to gain a few pounds during your Rome adventures. This can easily be accomplished at many establishments, but most especially at Tre Scalini (Piazza Navona 30-35, (011) 39 06 6879 148) in Piazza Navona. It's right in the historic center of the city. You can sit outside and people-watch, architecture-watch, and fountain-watch as you eat.

You'll find plenty of beautiful scenery to gaze upon, but there's definitely one thing on the menu that is sure to grab your attention-the tartufo. It's more than a dessert; it's an experience. Kind of like a truffle, but better, this heavenly treat is chocolate gelato embracing a truffle and enveloped in a hard chocolate shell. It was the first place Natalie and I went after arriving in Rome and one of the last places we stopped. So, yes, I dare you to eat a tartufo-twice.

3. Make a wish at the Trevi

One of the most popular adventure activities in Rome is visiting the Trevi Fountain. A must-see for any tourist, it's the largest Baroque fountain in the city. Daredevils in the past have taken a swim in the water-in a sense, mimicking the fountain scene in Fellini's La Dolce Vita. Others have tried to dive in, a very, very bad idea, and not something I would recommend, unless you'd like to go to jail or split your head open. Or both.

What I do recommend, though, is to throw a coin – or several – into the fountain. According to legend, if you throw in one coin, you'll surely return to the ancient city. This is what I did. I left, and I did come back, so I guess it works. Apparently, if you throw in two coins, you can expect a romance in Rome. Three coins guarantee a marriage. So think about what you want, and dare to spare some change trying to achieve it.

4. Ride like the natives

When in Rome, try renting and riding a scooter as a part of your family adventure. Rome visitors will find the traffic laws interesting. They exist, but no one seems to follow them. So driving in Roman traffic, on a scooter no less, is for the ultimate risk-taker. You can rent one online from OnRoad (Via Cavour 80, (011) 39 06 4815 669) and have it delivered to your hotel or even the airport. You can also go to a rental place and pick one up. You'll need to show ID-a driver's license and your passport.

OnRoad Hours: Daily 9AM-7PM

Once you've got your scooter, enjoy zipping about the city. And, whatever you do, be careful. But don't be afraid to be aggressive. Keep in mind that while on a scooter, you'll look like a local, and you'll be expected to act like one too. A typical drive in Rome can include everything from going through red lights, to driving the wrong way, to nearly running pedestrians over. I saw it all happen while I was there. In the same car. Within one minute.

So, good luck navigating those cobblestone roads. And remember, your scooter allows for easy parking on the sidewalk!

5. Test the Mouth of Truth

Last but not least, I'd dare you to test your honesty. You can-by sticking your hand into La Bocca Della Verita. This adventure activity in Rome was made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the film Roman Holiday. In English, this historic attraction is called the Mouth of Truth. The famed ancient stone mask stands in a portico inside the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin and dates back to the Classical Period. According to legend, if a liar puts his or her hand inside the statue's mouth, it'll be bitten off. I've never heard of this actually happening, but you never know.

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