When we travel, sometimes, for just a moment, I imagine that we could sell all of our stuff, and just travel around, experiencing all that the World has to offer and teach. And then I remember that there’s something to be said for roots, and family, and friends, and a home that you’ve made your own. And that after a while, going from place to place might totally lose its charm. (Not to mention, the buckets of money we’e need to finance such a thing!) But when we are on one of our family adventures (and this trip to Rome and Italy in particular) it’s hard to imagine life getting any better.
Of course, the kids still bicker (though not as much), we get lost (but that can be kind of fun), glitches happen (like me losing my cell phone in the Vatican Museums), we have to wash our clothes in a tiny washing machine that fits maybe four shirts and hang them out the window to dry (like the rest of Italy!), we have to get on airplanes (don’t get me started on how much I hate that!). But for the most part, we just have a ton of fun, learn a lot, meet interesting people, and experience new things. I can’t imagine taking one of these trips on a cruise or a tour, so I book everything myself, from the apartments to the restaurant reservations, and do tons of research along the way. I think we become immersed a little more that way, and we don’t have to follow anyone else’s plan of what we should do next.
This adventure took us to Rome, Florence and Venice. I knew from our last trip to Italy (before kids) that I’d have interesting things to photograph at every turn. But I actually considered leaving my “big” camera at home because sometimes I am not as “in the moment” as I would like when I’m looking through my viewfinder. I knew I’d regret that decision though, so I brought it along to document this trip, especially for our kids, so that they will have these memories in prints and a book to look at and share as they get older. So as we went along, I remembered to be in the moment, put the camera down, or hand it off to Jeff, and it was a good balance for me on this trip. (Though I will admit to occasionally dragging my family down back streets and alley’s because something, or some crazy beautiful light caught my eye…)
I was planning to do one blog post for this trip but there are just too many photographs that I want to share. I hope you don’t mind! So I’ll start with Rome — the Eternal city — since that’s where we started. It’s old, beautiful, big, a little dirty, full of friendly Romans, and lots of tourists. It’s humbling to see how history has been preserved and how religion has influenced artchitecture, art, and everyday life for centuries in this place. And we’re off!
This is the outside of our apartment just around the corner from the Campo di Fiori. Like many buildings in the historic center, on our building was a “Madonnelle” or “little Madonna” shrine. While the outside looks ancient, the inside was modern, funky, and furnished comfortably with a lot of stuff I recognized from Ikea!
Around our Campo di Fiori neighborhood.
It’s a market for most of the morning and the afternoon, and gathering place for much of the evening and night.
Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Piazza Navona
We loved the little fountains everywhere. We brought a water bottle with us and filled it wherever we could. The water is completely safe to drink, and was so refreshing on those hot Roman days!
Gelato was another great way to beat the heat. Every. Single. Day.
I got up early one morning and took a stroll by myself while the city (and the rest of the family) was just waking up.
Where else would nuns in white habits create the perfect photo for me?
As we walked to the Colosseum, we came upon the Torre di Argentina — a block of ruins turned cat sanctuary where feral cats are cared for and allowed to live. The girls hardly wanted to move on to the rest of Ancient Rome!
But we did!
Here I am sitting on a pile of ruins. The old columns and rubble are just scattered around the Forum and make a perfect place for a rest.
We took a special tour of the Colosseum that brought us to the underground where the gladiators and animals were kept during the fights. The sophistication of the systems they had to raise the animals up through the floor is absolutely incredible. As is the thought of the gore that took place here. Nasty stuff!
A view of Palentine Hill from the third tier of the Colosseum.
Next day we met up with a tour guide for a special 7:15AM entrance to the Sistine Chapel, followed by a visit to Saint Peters Basilica.
More scenes from around the city — we brought the Fit Bit with us, and averaged 7.5 miles a day of walking! We ate a TON of pasta, but I think we actually managed to not gain a pound thanks to all the walking.
This was one of my favorite churches near the Piazza Navona — St. Andrea di Valle. The way the light was coming through the windows was stunning.
And just a few more scenes from around the City…
Goofing off at the Collosseum:
A view of Castel St. Angelo. I can’t help but think of Audrey Hepburn dancing the night away in Roman Holiday when I see this place.
The girls each found the perfect pair of sunglasses from a street vendor.
We rode these crazy bikes at the Villa Borghese Gardens, and miraculously did not take out any pedestrians!
The most awesome car.
And while, the Trevi Fountain is currently under construction, they left a spot where you can still throw in a coin to ensure your return.
At the train station. Arrivaderci Rome! Next stop, Florence…
Rome Apartment: Great location steps away from the Campo di Fiori. We walked everywhere. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4026742
Antico Forno Rosciogli: Counter service. Super friendly. anticofornoroscioli.it
Roscioli: Also owns the above Antico Forno but this is full service. Definitely need a reservation:
La Campana: http://www.ristorantelacampana.com/
Vatican: We did this tour with first entrance into the Sistine Chapel and we were literally the first group in there. This tour continues straight to St. Peters Basilica after the Sistine Chapel and does not do the rest of the Vatican Museums but that was OK for us: https://darkrome.com/vatican-tours/vatican-tour-sistine-chapel-st-peters-basilica
Colosseum: Book your Colosseum Tour ahead of time. The official tour (that takes you into the underground and up to the third ring) is great and inexpensive. You have to call to make the reservation but the agents speak English: http://www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm