Introducing you to the team behind Little City Trips.
We speak to one of our editors and founders of Little City Trips, Marta Correale to find out a little more about her life as an expatriate. Marta is from Rome but has lived in several cities around the world, including London, Brussels and Dublin, where she lives with her husband and 2 children.
When did you start your life of travel?
I trace my passion for travel back to my early childhood. My parents are a curious, adventurous couple and every time they had a break in their work schedule, they would pack the car up with supplies and books and would take off somewhere that took their fancy.
We covered pretty impressive distances this way: from Rome, I remember we drove all the way to the UK once (my dad never liked to fly!), another time we went to Turkey and when I was about 9 even to Morocco: by land, that is quite a long journey!
As I grew older I kept up the habit of travelling. In my late 20’s I moved to Brussels and used it as a base to discover Europe. Brussels is where I met my now husband and travel is one of the things we share: together we went to Central America, India and the Far East and now that we have the kids we are trying to pass this same passion onto them.
So far, I can see that they like travelling: they love our short breaks in Europe (Amsterdam is a favourite of theirs!) but they are also fond of our road trips in the USA. We recently came back from a trip in the South West that brought us to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley – magical places at all ages!
How do you find living in Dublin with kids?
Dublin is a great city for a family. It is small and well served and I like how easy it is to reach the mountains and the coast nearby.
The city is really young and you can see kids everywhere: parks abound and while the weather doesn’t’ always cooperate, there are lots of green spaces that are great especially for younger kids.
There are several things to do in Dublin with kids although to be fully honest I find it more enjoyable as an expat than a visitor: the beauty of Dublin is in the people and everyday interactions and it is not easy to get a sense of that as a tourist.
Do you go to Rome with the kids often?
I do. I love Rome and my kids have developed a huge attachment to the city as well.
We go to visit my family there whenever school allows and I always make a point of showing them the city, as well as spending quality time with the grandparents. I love showing them the main landmarks of the city and tell them the stories behind them and I find myself learning more about my hometown thanks to these trips with them.
I would be lying however if I didn’t say that Rome gets overwhelming sometimes. It is a nightmare to visit with a buggy for instance and I often wondered if I wasn’t from there how I would react to the chaotic traffic and sometimes crazy crowds!
This is why when I talk about Rome I usually give ideas on where to go but even more than that I give tips about public transport: it can truly make or break a holiday and it’s a shame as Rome is so beautiful I want everyone to fall in love with it and have an amazing experience!
What are the highlights of Rome people shouldn’t miss?
My kids favourite places in Rome are the Colosseum, the children museum and the many city parks.
The Colosseum is crowded and touristy but it is hard to beat in terms of the impression it makes on the visitors, no matter your ages.
The children museum is something that didn’t exist when I was little and my two adore it: we have to go every time we are in town! It has interactive displays and role play areas such as a kitchen, supermarket etc. It is a great place if you want to have a break from sightseeing and a great refuge during rainy days (yes, Rome gets a lot of rain, more than people expect!)
Rome has some fabulous parks, dotting the city. Compared with parks elsewhere in the world, the playgrounds are not great (Rome is not exactly well maintained…) but they do the job and they are excellent to get the kids to let off steam when art and culture fatigue sets in! They are also great places for gelato, something that I suspect has a huge impact on how popular Rome is with the younger crowd…
Do you have a favourite city with kids?
I am what you could call an enthusiastic traveller, and this means most of the cities we visit at some stage make the list of ‘favourite city ever!’.
In Europe, the latest one we explore extensively and adored is Amsterdam. I have a friend there so I had the chance of visiting it with the eye of a local and wow, it is such a family friendly place!
The first thing you notice about it is how beautiful it is: the canals criss-cross the city and are so scenic, with the bikes crossing the bridges and the pretty trees along the banks. The architecture is stunning and while you may think this is not something kids will notice, in Amsterdam they do! The houses have a distinctive fairy-tale air about them and my kids spent hours fantasizing which one they would pick if we were to live there.
In terms of kids activities, Amsterdam offers many: my kids favourite is the Nemo Museum (science) but the zoo is a big contender as well and a canal tour is always a hit too!
Outside of Europe, our favourite city is San Francisco. We spent a summer there and loved every minute: the beautiful bay, the amazing children activities, the surrounding area… We are obsessed with that part of the worked and we have already been twice in 3 years!
Is there anywhere you have visited that you haven’t loved or hasn’t worked well with kids?
Not really, although if I am honest we did not like Nice, France, when we visited with my then 4-month-old and 2-year-old.
The city is stunning and maybe had I researched the destination better it would have been different. However, we found it so hard with a buggy and so hard to find a place to eat that would accommodation them that we left thinking it was a lot of work more than a pleasant break! I do put this experience down to lack of planning though: this was an impromptu day trip from Liguria and I didn’t study the lay of the land in advance, so I am sure Nice with kids can be done!
What’s the one Bucket List city you want to visit with kids?
New York is my son’s obsession and I would love to have the chance to bring him there. I have visited several times and it is a city I love, but we haven’t had the chance to experience visiting together as a family yet.
I know my son wants to see the skyscrapers and Central Park and I also want to bring him to see the state of liberty and take a ferry trip around Manhattan. Oh, and tasty hot dogs of course!
Now the all-important question, what’s in your travel bag?
Surprisingly little! I like to travel light and I pride myself in always having with me only what we really need. In practice, this usually means documents, credit card and my phone, which is I also use as a camera. I used to have a separate camera that I constantly had around my neck but honestly, smartphones are so good for photos now, I don’t need anything else. Mine is a Huawei and I highly recommend it!
Where can we learn more about your adventures?
As well as co-editing the Little City Trips website, I have a personal blog for our family trips and cultural tourism with kids which you can find here Learning Escapes | Instagram | Facebook. I also run a community specifically for visitors looking to visit Italy with kids with a lot of practical tips, addresses and ideas for families– Italy with kids – Travel Tips and Advice.
WANT TO PICK MARTA’S BRAIN ON HER FAVOURITE CITIES? JOIN THE CONVERSATION OVER ON OUR LITTLE CITY INSIDERS FACEBOOK PAGE.