Places to Go (Vacation) - ROME, ITALY PART I (Days 11 & 12) - Dragging Our Kids Through Europe, Part VII
This is ancient Rome, where we had a wonderful (though super hot) time.
But to get there, first we had to leave the wonderfulness of Lake Como, with it's gorgeous morning fog and bakery down the street (luckily, almost everywhere in Europe has a bakery down the street). I know Italian's are famous for pasta, but they can really rock dessert.
Then we had to take a ferry . . .
To a train . . .
To another train . . (Just when P started complaining of homesickness, she received a facebook message (through my account) from her best friend. So. much. happiness. They spent the rest of the week sending stickers and emojis to each other).
To a taxi (as much as we loved Rome, I have no desire to ever be in a car there again. Complete chaos. I'm not sure how anyone survives) . . .
To our new apartment . . .
Up until this point, we opted for larger apartments on the periphery of cities, but in Rome we we stayed closer to the center of the city, right off Campo di Fiori Square (click here to see our rental). We loved the proximity to everything, but it was a small space for five people.
After a whole day traveling, we couldn't wait to walk around and enjoy the city. So. much. history. everywhere we looked (also, so many crazy scooters and near death experiences).
Rome is the only city I've ever visited where several very busy four lane roads don't have stoplights, rather they just have crosswalks. So you wait until a large enough group of people comes together and then you all start walking into MOVING TRAFFIC, hoping that the cars will stop moving. Often they skid to a stop about three feet from you. Good times, good times.
Our first stop - Piazza Navona, which, according to Rome with Kids: an insider's guide (possibly my favorite travel book ever, I wish every city had something comparable), the kids would love. And the book was right, in the evenings the square is full of street artists and performers. Everywhere you turn, there's something crazy going on. Plus, two toys stores bookmark each end of the square. P and T fell in love with everything in the very expensive Al Sogno and we ended up coming back here several times during our trip.
We could have stayed out all night. Seriously, Rome is definitely a "stay out all night with the kids" type of city. But we had to be up early for a morning of gladiator training.
When I planned/researched this vacation, I clicked on a video for Rome's (somewhat cheesy) Gladiator School. T, who was playing in the next room, happened to wander in and was immediately smitten. So gladiator school become our one "must do" activity in Europe. My favorite question being, "Mom, if we're going to Italy, how come everyone at gladiator school speaks English?" My reply, "because only American tourists are silly enough to travel the world to take their children to gladiator school." Oh well, by this point in our vacation, the kids really needed an activity geared specifically for them.
The first half of gladiator training involved a tour of the "gladiator museum" and a lecture on the history of the profession. Dan and I found it pretty interesting, but our guide's accent was rather strong and the kids had a hard time understanding him.
Before long we found ourselves wearing togas and sweating through an obstacle course (okay, so I mostly just photographed this part). Then sword training. And, finally, combat!! I proved a pathetic gladiator, whereas P and Dan dominated everyone they came in contact with.
After an exhausting morning, these fruit cups tasted like heaven.
In the mornings, the square outside our apartment becomes a giant market, dating back to 1869 (before the market, Romans used the square for public executions so it's always been a social center of the city, just a gloomier one). I don't have many photos, but it was fun to see all the fresh produce and crazy knickknacks (then in the evenings, after the city cleans everything up, the square turns into a great place to people watch over cocktails/gelato).
In the (very very hot) afternoon, we walked to Trajan's Column for our kid-friendly group tour of ancient Rome and the Colosseum. So many ruins. And where were the cats? We didn't see ONE CAT our entire time in Rome. Where have they all gone? (Seriously, does anyone know? I've tried googling but couldn't find much).
This is my second visit to Rome (the first was after college) and I always alternate between fascination and boredom when touring the ruins. They just look so, well, ruined. For lack of a better term. Learning about the history can be fascinating, but it takes a lot of imagination to picture these things in their former splendor. Sort of like used car lots. Or junkyards.
The afternoon started off crazy hot, but a storm moved in and we arrived at the Colosseum minutes before the rain started, which cooled the city down considerably. The walk home felt amazing.
And, of course, we ended our day with another night to Piazza Navona (followed by drinks on Campo di Fiori square), with another visit to the toy store, where P purchased a puppet. And we watched the amazing Swizzle dance squad perform.
Wait? Who's that dancing with the Swizzle's? Yes, they picked T out of the crowd to dance with them. And, super shy T, actually danced!! At one point they started cartwheeling, flipping in the air around him, but I didn't get a good photo of that (probably because I was cheering too much). Possibly the highlight of our whole vacation!!!
Happy Labor Day!! I can't believe my kids finally start school tomorrow!! I'll be back on Wednesday with more photos from our last two days in Rome.
If you have a chance, check out Not-So-SAHM's Rome posts, her family visited this summer too and had a great time!