Updated 29 May 2021
I literally never thought about strollers until I had a baby. Let me tell you, using a stroller in Rome is not for sissies. This city was not built with baby carriages in mind. But now that I have two kids who are 3 and under, I have figured out some of the best ways to get them around the Eternal City without a car.
Italians straight-up love babies and so the country is fairly kid-friendly on an individual level. But when it comes to infrastructure, no Roman city planner ever really gave much thought to the tired parents who would be stuck trying in vain to push a pram down the street without tipping their darling babes out onto the cracked cobblestones. To put it bluntly: Rome is not stroller friendly.
Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a tiny bit but Rome is not a great city for strollers. The hard thing here is that Rome IS a great city for walking. So if you have small children in Rome, you are probably going to end up needing a stroller anyways.
It is best to simply prepare yourself for the level (or lack) of maintenance to the city’s sidewalks. In some cases, there are no sidewalks. When they do exist, they may be cracked or deformed by tree roots and Roma Capitale is in no great hurry to replace and repair these.
On a good day, you will find streets with sidewalks that are a mix of cobblestone and paving stones, like this:
On a bad day, there will be gravel, no sidewalk or a sidewalk that is so torn up that it almost seems easier to walk in the street. Or, my favorite, when the sidewalk simply ends and you have come this far so now you are stuck:
For short trips, I almost always use a carrier. Wearing the baby is easier because when this happens, at least I can go forward on foot.
However, in case you need to use a stroller in Rome, I have put together a few tips and a summary of the reality of the state of the roads so you can decide which to bring or buy.
Rome Stroller Tips
- Umbrella strollers (the very lightweight foldable ones that might work at Disneyland) are not recommended unless you are going to stay exclusively in a newer and more well-to-do area like Parioli or Prati. They are too flimsy to last long on the cobblestones.
- Speaking of, most of the center of Rome is paved with cobblestones. Don’t expect your child to have a smooth ride unless you are going to opt for a stroller that has suspension. Even if you don’t opt for something like the BOB Jogging Stroller which has suspensions, you should still plan to use a stroller with sturdy wheels because they will certainly be put to the test. Any jogging stroller should stand up fairly well.
- The drawback of bringing a heavy-duty stroller is that they tend to be much bigger and spaces in Rome are small. You will find it frustrating to try to get into coffee bars, fold it up to get into a taxi, or simply to navigate the crowds around Rome’s main attractions.
- The BabyZen YoYo is far and away the most trendy stroller to have in Rome. It is lightweight and folds with one button push. Despite being small, it seems to hold up well on the roads. It is also small enough when folded to be taken on the plane. Other popular (but pricey) brands are Cybex and Nuna.
- It is really common to use the pram attachment (which usually doesn’t have straps) for kids who are under six months. This way they can lie down… but as an American parent, it makes me uncomfortable that they aren’t secure so I tend to use the car seat attachment.
- Keep in mind the weight of the stroller because you will absolutely find yourself having to carry it at some point. Maybe the elevators will be broken at the Metro, or you might just come upon a short flight of stairs and no ramp somewhere out and about in the city, but it will happen. Having a stroller that you can fold and lift is essential.
- Finding the balance between a durable stroller and a light one is difficult. We actually have two strollers in Rome. For day-to-day use, I recommend the City Mini Stroller. It is easy to fold and pick up but also holds up ok on the cobblestones. My favorite thing is that it is narrow, so I can maneuver it into stores or along narrow sidewalks as needed. When our used City Mini gave out, we ordered the GB Pocket All Terrain. The double wheels navigate all of the bumps well. Our other stroller is a Hauck Viper Trio. This stroller is heavier and bigger so we use it more when we are going to be out all day (and used it all the time when the baby was small because of the car seat attachment which was easy to buckle into a taxi).
- Double strollers are RARE unless you have twins. Cars park in crazy positions – even in the crosswalk – so you will have a hard time finding space to actually get the double stroller off the curb and across the street. For our three-year-old, we bought a Lascal standing board. It attaches right onto any stroller, it does pretty well even on cobblestones, and we can easily remove it or fold it when it is not in use.
- Renting a stroller in Rome is not really a thing. I can’t find anyone who offers the service! You are probably better off looking on subito.it or Facebook Market place to buy a used stroller if you don’t want to drag yours here.
- Don’t worry. You will find that Rome isn’t stroller friendly, but that the people here are. Someone is going to stop and help you down those stairs or move out of the way so you can smash your way onto the bus. They have been there and done that. They know your pain.
Where to Buy a Stroller in Rome
- If you can’t tell from the above link, we bought our Hauck Viper Trio online on Amazon. They have a ton of strollers, though the non-European ones will be more expensive than normal. The downside here is that you cannot really test it out before you buy it.
- Prenatal has a large selection of strollers, particularly Chicco brand. You can buy online or in the store. If you sign up for their newsletter, you get a discount on your first purchase and will get updates about sales.
- Io Bimbo is another large baby store that feels a bit like a warehouse but has a good selection of strollers and everything else you need.
Do you have any other tips for using a stroller in Rome?
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