Well, I left Rome today with a lighter backpack – unfortunately my camera was stolen. Bummer, but in 8 months of traveling, this is the only thing that has happened to us, so we have been pretty lucky. The funny thing is that the last time I was in Rome, 22 years ago, my camera was stolen as well. An omen? Who knows. I didn’t let it deter me – thank god for iphones that take pretty good pictures.
What can you say about Rome? The whole city is a museum. Everywhere you look there is something historical, amazing or beautiful to see. It was the last stop on this journey for my parents, so we tried to make it a good one. We had some major things to see while we were here, plus the twins were receiving their First Communion, so this was going to be a special time in our trip.
The Colosseum was walking distance from where we stayed, history right in our backyard. We made sure to walk down there the first evening just to see it. I stood in awe. It always amazes me to see the things you read about in History books up close and personal. It makes it so much more real.
The Vatican was our first big day of touring. These days can be hard with kids, so we opted to get a guide. Catia was great!! She geared the tour towards the children, plus having a guide allows you to bypass the massive lines that were already there at 9am. We were given the name of the tour company, Walks Inside Rome, by our friends in San Francisco and would highly recommend it to anyone traveling here. We were also using our Mission Rome book for the girls, the same one we had used in Barcelona. This makes touring like a scavenger hunt throughout the city and Catia was happy to help us find the things we needed while we were on tour.
The Vatican is overwhelming to say the least. But not only did we see typical things on the tour, but we went to the Egyptian Museum and saw a real mummy!! The kids loved that, plus some amazing sarcophaguses and hieroglyphics that were over 2,000 years old!!! The Sistine Chapel was beautiful of course, and we all learned a great deal with Catia. She really took the time to teach the girls all that they would see before they went inside, which makes it more fun for them to hunt for things while they are looking up.
The Sistine Chapel – By Grace – Michelangelo painted some of the Sistine Chapel. He did the ceiling, which took him 4 years and the wall which took him 7. One of the most famous paintings is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where Adam is reaching his finger to God. The Basilica was fascinating. There were lots of things to see. We learned that when the Pope says mass, the altar is above St. Peter’s Grave, which I thought was interesting. There is a tradition where some doors in the church are only opened every 25 years for The Jubilee. This time they were open and we got to walk through the Jubilee Doors which was very exciting.
We were worn out when all was over, but we were able to con the girls into making it to lunch. They actually might not have had much of a choice once in the cab. We figured with a little lunch, they might have a little more energy to hit a few more sites. We had a great cab driver that told us not to eat near the Trevi Fountain – our next destination – since everything around there was touristy. He dropped us at Osteria de Fortunata, which put us within walking distance. Gotta love that when we drove up there was an old lady literally making fresh pasta in the window and when we walked in, it was full of Italians. Perfect place for us! Gotta love a cab driver that will help out the tourist. With full bellies and a little grumbling from the girls, we set out for the Trevi Fountain. We happened upon the Pantheon along the way. Grace was not to happy to stop, but how could one walk right by? Claire absolutely loved this!! With their coins thrown in the fountain and a little gelato, I would say we had a full day of touring.
Since the girls were missing their first communion at home, thanks to our friend, Father Mike Russo, we were able to celebrate it in Rome. Pretty amazing – see the Vatican one day and have your first communion in the most Catholic city the next. Lucky ladies! Father Mike put us in touch with Father Kevin Kilgore who was perfect for our family. From New Jersey originally, Father Kevin is just about done with his time in Rome and heading home in a couple of months. We were lucky to have met him before he left. We met him at Pontifical North American College on Gianicolo Hill where he led us to the North American Martyrs chapel, a small chapel that seated no more than 20 people. It was such a personal ceremony and something I think the girls will remember forever.
We were also lucky enough to go up to a newly built tower at the college that is supposedly the highest point in Rome. From there the views of the city and St. Peter’s were amazing!!
Since mom and dad were leaving the next day, we went back to their favorite neighborhood joint, Naumachia, and had dinner. We hated to say good bye to them. How quickly a month went by. I feel like we were just meeting them in Sicily.
We rounded out our time in Rome with a final day of site seeing – the quintessential Roman sites – the Colosseum and the Forum. To walk in the Colosseum was surreal. Almost 2,000 years old and to think gladiators walked the halls with animals that could take them to their death. We decided to book Catia again and it was a great decision. She was the teacher for the day and the kids had the most amazing classroom! When things get tough, which they often do, I keep trying to remember that this is why we did this trip, to take the girls places they would have only read about in books – the world is actually their classroom, to meet different people, try new things, an amazing experience for sure, exhausting, but amazing.
Next stop – London