Getting to Rome
It was bound to happen. After almost missing several flights due to gate changes or mixing up arrival/departure times, we finally missed a flight because I read 1:50 as PM, not AM. We were sleeping soundly in the Delhi hotel as our plane was taking off. So instead of getting into Rome at 10:25AM, we landed after 7:00PM and arrived at our apartment in the Trastevere neighborhood after 8PM.
First Impressions of Rome
As expected, Italy is living up to its reputation. We were picked up by a well dressed Italian man in a Mercedes. Our host, Simonetta, was stylish, welcoming and had a bottle of red wine waiting for us. The neighborhood has cobblestone streets and family run restaurants serving delicious food.
We’re all glad to be back in a Western country, where the bathrooms are clean, there is no garbage lining the streets, and traffic is orderly. The only animals on the street are horses – either police horses or those carrying tourists in a limited area. The flip side though is that we’re back to doing our own laundry and cooking, though we don’t mind.
Even though it’s winter and many trees are bare, they still lend a beauty to the city, particularly the large ones lining the Tevere River. We’ve had some beautiful blue skies, although it’s been a bit on the chilly side (not Canadian cold though).
There are fountains, statutes and buildings all throughout the old city. Then there are the big monuments, which have also lived up to our expectations.
Colosseum and Roman Forum
Our first day of sightseeing took us to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. I had seen these on my trip to Europe 15 years ago. The main change to the Colosseum in that time, is that the Vatican has helped fund it’s restoration, so you’ll find a cross inside the building.
We ended up spending about 3 hours at the Forum, so I saw more of it than last time, but we still only saw about half of it. We ended up wandering around the gardens, unable to find our way out. After more walking, we found the exit.
The view from the gardens of the Forum
The next day, we took it easy in the morning and then went to Gladiator School in the afternoon. When we arrived, the place was completely empty and locked up. After a few minutes, our instructor showed up. Turns out we were the only ones in the class.
Our little Gladiators!
We saw and tried on some of the gear the Legionnaires used, did some training exercises, learned how to fight both offensively and defensively. The grand finale was that we got to fight each other.
Hannah and Amy fighting each other. Hannah won, though she couldn’t defeat her Mom!
Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon
On Sunday, we took the Hop On Hop Off bus, which I do not recommend. Due to road restrictions, the bus can’t get near most monuments. Even the audio wasn’t that good. We ended up doing the loop once, then walking to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon.
The Spanish Steps
We had our first gelato in Italy outside the Spanish steps. The steps were under construction and Anthony was the only one who went up them.
View from the Spanish steps, courtesy of Anthony
Both Anthony and the girls were surprised just how large the Trevi Fountain was. Hannah sat on part of the fountain and had the police blow the whistle at her a couple of times.
Checking out the Trevi Fountain
At the Pantheon, we joined a tour. The guide was amazing and really brought the history to life for Hannah and I. Unfortunately, we don’t have the name of the group as we were pitched on the street and joined the last tour of the day.
Our tour guide for the Pantheon. Hannah was totally into it.
For Monday, we had a 45 minute bus tour of the Vatican gardens booked, as I thought the girls would like that better than a 3 hour walking tour. We got there late but still managed to get on the bus. The girls enjoyed it, but it was something we probably could have skipped.
The Grotto in the Vatican Gardens
We rented audio-guides for the Vatican museums and they had a tour aimed at kids. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the second room on their map (the Egyptian Room), and things started to degenerate. We finally found the room, but couldn’t find the item on their map. We then made a beeline for the Sistine Chapel, but as soon as we got in, Hannah said she had to use the bathroom!
Listening to their audio guides on the Family Tour
After a bathroom and food break, we made our way back to the Sistine Chapel. You have to walk through many other museums to get there and after the Chapel you have another long walk past more items and through a gift shop to get out. We had no idea about these other museums, so even though we were at the Vatican for 5 hours, we barely scratched the surface. We didn’t even make it to St. Peter’s Basilica!
Vatican City in the early evening light
Taking a Break
After all that sightseeing, the girls really needed a break, so on Tuesday I stayed in the apartment with them while Anthony got his fill of Rome. We ventured out for gelato and only got slightly lost on the way back🙂
Taking a break from sightseeing Exploring our neighborhood without GPS. I only have coverage when linked with Anthony’s phone
Tomorrow we’re taking the train to Florence to begin our second week in Italy.