Italy--Rome and Florence with kids
I'll be taking my two sons, 9 and 11 to Italy soon, and would want to know if Checchino dal 1887 was too formal to take kids. They are pretty good as far as restaurant behavior is, but naturally, their attention spans are shorter than those of adults, and therefore long, slow white table cloth meals are out.
Also would welcome suggestions for small towns to visit in Tuscany that are worth seeing, not too touristy, and have good places for lunch--San Gimignano obviously comes to mind--as does Greve--any others? We'll have a car in Tuscany, but not in Rome.
In Rome we will be staying near the Colosseum. Any good places to eat near there?
In principle, Checchino is not too formal for children, but only you know whether your particular two are too rambunctious to sit still and eat for 90 minutes. I would suggest getting there as soon as they open as things slow down rapidly when the place begins to fill up, and have at least the start of an idea what you're going to order. The tonnarelli con sugo di coda (rich tomato sauce in which oxtails have stewed for six hours) can soothe the most savage breast, so if in doubt, go with that. Trust me. If you think a short pasta would have more success than tonnarelli, don't hesitate to ask for rigatoni.
Shoudl you go to San Gimignano, I was surprised to find a fun cheap tasty lunch at a very old fashioned osteria in a basement with shared tables. It's not far from the central piazza with the cistern and the name is I Quattro Gatti. It's a tiny place and they mainly serve sliced meats and slabs of cheese wrapped in pancetta turned on a grill, and other such unelaborate fare.
One thing to consider heading to and from San Gimignano is whether your sons are subject to car sickness. The access roads are tortuous, as all many, many roads in rural Tuscany, but San Gimignano is a long haul up. And "too touristy" is almost a definition of San Gimignano.