Roman Holiday

After a long but uneventful flight to our connection in Frankfurt, then a lengthy wait at the Rome airport for our luggage, we finally arrived in Roma!  We’d ordered a Blacklane car service (so fancy!) for our pickup and transport to the AirBnB, and Penelope was super impressed to see the driver holding up a sign with my name on it when we walked into the international arrivals hall.  🙂

We settled into our delightfully spacious apartment and decided to make a trip to the local grocery store for dinner and drinks.  When we arrived at the Carrefour Express I realized how spoiled we’d been in New Zealand—we spent half of our time in the store google translating packaging!

Tuesday morning we all slept late, unpacked, ate lunch at home, then ventured out into our neighborhood.  We are about a block from Campo de’ Fiori, which to our delight turns out to have a market six days a week.  Mostly fruit and veg, which is perfect for our stay. 

The front door of our apartment building.
The mosaic in our entryway…
…which side is right side up?
Morning market scene.
Penelope’s favorite fruit stand.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring our neighborhood, finding a (slightly) bigger grocery store, and capped the day with dinner at Ristorante Campo de’ Fiori, one of the restaurants on the piazza.  While the meal was mostly good, one dish stood out: my caramelle pistache i pere, a pasta dish with pistachio and pear.  SO DELICIOUS.  By far the best pasta dish I’ve had in my life.  Little pouches containing the pear and pistachio blend, white sauce, thin slices of pear cooked to perfection, sprinkled with pistachios.  I’m still thinking about it a week later.

But we couldn’t head home without indulging in a bit of gelato… so we ducked into a gelateria close to our apartment, Fatamorgana.  Another treat!  Penelope opted for strawberry and milk chocolate, Jeremy had the prince’s kiss and carrot cake, and I had the prince’s kiss and crema agnese.  All were delightful, and we decided we’d definitely be back.

Wednesday the jet lag was really hitting us all hard—Italy (eight hours ahead) is proving a much more difficult transition than New Zealand (21 hours ahead).  But we suspected it would be, so we’d scheduled an extra two days in Rome to accommodate for this shift.  We spent a lazy morning at home (though Penelope might beg to differ, as she started schoolwork again.  After lunch, we headed out to do Rick Steves’ Heart of Rome walk.  The walk conveniently begins at the Campo de’ Fiori, then continues to the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, and ends at the Spanish Steps.  At his recommendation, we added three churches that were along the way.  It was a great walk, and a terrific introduction to Rome for Penelope and Jeremy. 

A gorgeous day at the Pantheon.
Very cool: the trompe l’oeil dome at Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola. When you run out of money to build the dome… just paint one instead.
Trevi fountain, where we all participated in the traditional ritual of tossing in coins to wish for a return to Rome.

Thursday we opted to spend the day at a museum, so after lunch at home we headed to the Capitoline Museums, via both an incredibly impressive local church we just happened to pass by and some of the many Roman ruins that seem to spring up on every corner.  This time it was the Theater Marcello, a nice preview of the much larger Colosseum we’d see later in the week. 

The gorgeous alter at Santa Maria in Campitelli.

Then it was up to the hill to the Capitoline Museums, which I’d never visited (even though this is my third trip to Rome!).  They were well worth the uphill climb.

The Capitoline museums had a fantastic children’s audioguide, narrated by Marcus Aurelius and his horse. Penelope thoroughly enjoyed the four hours we spent there!
Some of my favorite sculptures.
Under Constantine’s big toe.
Our first view of the Forum!

After a most enjoyable afternoon at the museums, we walked just a few minutes to the Victor Emmanuel monument, where we climbed up and up to take in a lovely view of the city before sunset. 

And on the walk home, Penelope spotted her first Roman cats, coming out to prowl in the ruins closest to our apartment.

Then it was home for dinner—and to await the arrival of my folks, who were planning to stay one night at our apartment before heading out to their camper (in storage) the next day.  Although we aren’t traveling together during our time in Italy, our paths will occasionally intersect, which is lovely.

Friday morning the cold that had been threatening me had set in in earnest, and I was grateful that we’d packed various relevant medicines.  We had brunch at home with my parents, then they set out for the Roman suburbs and Penelope, Jeremy, and I headed for our entry reservation at the Vatican Museum. 

Another collage of favorites.

What a day! It’s truly an amazing collection. And they again had a terrific audioguide for kids, though Penelope said it wasn’t as funny as the one at the Capitoline. After finishing at the always-astonishing Sistine Chapel, we closed down the museum and had to be ushered out by the guards.   A quiet evening at home rounded out the day, and we all headed to bed in hopes of shaking off the last of our jet lag (and my cold).

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