Family of 4 (2kids ages 11/12) will tour Colosseum and Forum on May 21. Is it reasonable to try and see just a portion of the Appian Way and 1 catacomb ? I have RS book, but cannot tell if this plan would be fun or TOO much. Thank you in advance! If you think it is doable, your tips on best/ easiest travel would be appreciated!
Since you don't have to book the catacombs ahead of time , you could just see how you are feeling after you've finished your other sightseeing. Another possibility would be to go to the Capuchin Crypt instead of the catacombs. It is in Rome and might appeal more to your preteens. Check out the pictures on the Eternallycool.net website under the category Spooky Rome.
That should work out just fine. Our family of 4 (kids 10/12) did the Forum first thing in the morning. We only had an audio tour for the Forum so the kids got bored pretty soon. This was the worst audio guide we had in Italy, I'd consider another form of guided tour there. Then the Colosseum with a guided tour that takes about an hour and it was time for a late lunch.
You can easily do the Appian Way and one of the catacombs in the afternoon. There is a bus leaving from Circo Massimo (not far from the Colosseum) going down the Appian Way. However, if you're planning this day on a weekend be warned that the frequency of the bus goes down to about one per hour. I'd consider taking a taxi out and/or back if time is getting tight.
Check the schedules for the different catacombs before deciding which one to see. They all have differen opening/closing days and fairly long closures over lunch.