Places to Go (Vacation) - ROME, ITALY PART II (Days 13 & 14) - Dragging Our Kids Through Europe, Part VIII
We began our second full day in Rome with a walk to Castel Sant'Angelo, which Roman Emperor Hadrien built sometime around 135 A.D. as a mausoleum. Eventually the building was repurposed as a fortress and now it's a museum, which, according to Rome with Kids: an insider's guide, consists of "a wonderful labyrinth of some 58 rooms" where "children can bound up its ramp and ramparts, roam around gorgeous papal apartments and discover old weapons, flags and cannonballs." Sounds awesome, right? And all in all it was, but the heat of the day made us all a little cranky. Oh well, serves us right for visiting Rome in the heart of summer.
Luckily, smoothies on the walk back made everyone feel better.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the apartment, trying to get our energy up for the Vatican. One Friday night every month, the Vatican Museums reopen at 7 pm so you can tour the galleries at dusk, which is awesome because several key rooms don't have air conditioning and cool down considerably once the sun starts to wain.
First stop, St. Peter's square.
In case you're wondering, the walk from St. Peter's square to the Vatican's entrance is much longer than it appears on the map. Luckily, there are walls to jump on.
I really thought T would melt down at the Vatican (I even searched the map for escape routes if things truly went south), but T ended up LOVING the Vatican (you can't plan this stuff). The kids' scavenger hunt/audio tour proved to be one of the highlight's of Rome (the adult tour, on the other hand, was somewhat dull).
Of course, having the children listen to an entirely different tour than us made for some interesting conversations. My favorite being that T's tour told him to prepare because the next room ON THE TOUR would contain "the most famous ceiling ever". But the next room we visited was not on the kids' audio tour, so T spent quite a few minutes staring at a blank white ceiling before finally asking us, "I just don't get it. why is this ceiling so special?"
And then there was F's comment on seeing the Sistine Chapel, "which one is supposed to be God?"
The walk home = positively gorgeous. We actually felt lucky that no cabs would take us.
Day 3 - Dan has become completely addicted to cappuccino and wonders if he can ever return to American coffee.
We spent the rest of the morning checking things off our "holy crap, I can't believe we haven't seen X yet" list. First stop, the Pantheon. Yes, it really is that gorgeous. I almost hoped for rain so I could see the light on the drops as they made their way inside.
The kids had taken a few days off from souveniring but after the Pantheon they resumed with full force.
The Trevi Fountain was under construction, so I only photographed the top.
T decided he needed a new hat. I thought P would yell at him for copying her, but, somewhat oddly, no fights occurred.
Group shot in front of the Pinocchio store.
Hats are important during Italian summers.
In the afternoon, we walked past the Colosseum to the Basilica San Clemente for our underground Rome tour through Context Travel, possibly the coolest thing we did in all of Europe. Under the twelfth century church was an even older church (from the 4th century), completely hidden from any passerby (no signs or anything you just walk down a staircase and suddenly you're in a early Christian church). EVEN COOLER, under that church was a pagan temple. WHO KNEW? There are literally worlds upon worlds under Rome. Ancient houses. Old streets. Amazing stuff.
We learned a lot about the Cult of Mithras and their influence on Christian tradition. We also toured a few more hidden underground marvels. Old homes far far under the city. I cannot say enough good things. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed, so you'll just have to trust me (google images also has some cool photos if you're curious).
The tour ended next to a beautiful park, whose name I can't remember, but which provided the perfect uncrowded oasis away from the craziness of the city.
Random souvenir activity book purchased during the walk back.
I didn't bring my camera out for our last night in Rome, so I made Dan pay a few euros for this polaroid souvenir. If it didn't look like we were squeezing P out of the photo, this would probably be our Xmas card for 2015.
I'm still sad that we missed out on some great stuff (in particular, we never made it to the Spanish Steps), but all in all Rome was a blast. And way more kid-friendly than I ever would have assumed.
The next morning, we began our crazy day of travel to San Sebastian, Spain, which involved a flight to Madrid followed by a 5 hour train ride north (why didn't we just fly into Barcelona or San Sebastian? Because I couldn't get a flight, as in AT ALL. So we took the long way).
When we arrived in Spain, I wanted to take a taxi from the train station, but Dan insisted on walking (our apartment was only about 1.5 miles away) and he was totally right. Sunsets like this are NOT meant to be experienced through car windows.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY EVERYONE!! I'm going to take a few weeks off from the Europe posts so I can focus on other stuff that we've been doing lately, but eventually I'll post some photos of Spain. I hope you're all having a good week!!