Stop 8: Rome and surrounding area travel notes and photos

Rome:  October 13 – October 31

Sunday, October 14: We arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon.  Got to our apartment and had a 45 minute tutorial on the workings of the place by the owner and his assistant who acted as an interpreter.   Once they finally left, our heads were spinning – how do we lock the door? Does the washer turn off when we pull out the key and leave the apartment? Where does the organic waste go as compared to the regular as compared to the recycling? Ugh.  It is a great apartment though (see photos on the main Rome page if you’re interested).  It has a fairly spacious main floor with the kitchen and living space.  Upstairs is the master with the bath and a pretty good sized wardrobe.  The kids are downstairs from the main area in their own “Kid”s Club” complete with lots of space, two twin beds and their own bathroom.  This is a great setup for us – everyone has their own breathing space.  Good thing too since we are here until October 31.

Today, we got out around 11 and planned on just getting our bearings.   We walked along the Tiber and found our way over to the Circus Maximus.  This was built for chariot races in about 300BC.  The records show that the stadium could hold about 250,000 people and in the Circus’ heyday, there were about 12 chariot races a day over 240 days each year.  In such a small space, collisions and overturned chariots were common.  Charioteers were often poor people who used this sport as a means to get rich and famous — sometimes they succeeded and other times, they were killed.  The wooden bleachers once collapsed during the race, killing thousands.

We walked along until we got to the Colosseum.  Kids were hungry so we chose not to brave the long line and have a little lunch first.  I think we are going to get the RomaPass

We walked toward the Forum and our apartment and bought Hen a new book called Rome Reconstructed about what the ancient buildings / areas in Rome looked like way back when.  It was very cool.  We were walking along and he identified The Forum of Augustus.  The history of this building, as with most in Rome, is fascinating.  After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius (bad guys) went to take control of Syria and Macedonia.  In 42BC they led their armies against the heirs of Caesar, Octavian and Marc Antony.  Long story, short…Augustus (leader of the troops) made a vow to build a temple to honor the God of Mars, father of the Roman people and the God of War if he was victorious. He kept his promise and here’s what you got.  Not really, it looked a whole lot different 2060 or so some odd years later.  Augustus later became the first emperor of Rome and served from 27 BC – 14 AD.

Forum of Augustus

We walked to the Victor Manuel Monument and took the elevator to the top.  What a beautiful place to see all of Rome!  It was a gorgeous days we could see for miles.

Colosseum in distance

The forum from above

St. Peter’s in the distance

Not sure of our plans for tomorrow — we may do a private tour of the Vatican.  Weather forecast shows heavy rain.

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

Monday, October 15: No heavy rain until this evening about 7:30 – right when Charlie and Henry were going to walk to gelatto.

They’ll survive.

We ended up walking to the Pantheon today and then to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps!  What a great day!

The Pantheon

Kids at Pantheon

Spanish Steps and about a million others. 🙂

Elsa after sticking her head in the fountain!

@ the Piazza Navona

Tomorrow at 1:30 is our tour of the Vatican.

Thanks for reading.  Miss you all.

Tuesday, October 16: Great day discovering Rome.  We hired a private guide to take us through the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s.  The kids did great too considering the long walk and having to look at more art and religious relics.

We met Annalisa at 1:30 near the Vatican Cafe, across the street from the entrance to the Vatican Museum entrance.

Vatican Museum Entrance

We walked through several areas of the Museum prior to reaching the Sistine Chapel.  One of the neatest salas we walked through was the map room where in the 1500’s a mapmaker mapped out the entire country by using nothing but a sextant and a sketchpad. All of the maps are on the walls in this room and are very accurate. Cool. Who needs a GPS?

Map of Venice — crazy accurate for 500 years ago

Before reaching the Sistine Chapel, we toured the Rafael Rooms – little did I know that Rafael died after he finished the Pope’s private library and his team of painters finished the last four rooms.  He died when he was 37 and has a tomb in the Pantheon that we saw yesterday.

Kids spying on the Pope — entrance to his private chambers

After we toured the Sistine Chapel, we made our way to the Basilica.  Once you walk in, there is a huge cathedral right in front of you — longer than a football field. Immediately to the right is Michelangelo’s Pieta.  It’s amazing that he carved it from a single piece of marble and did so when he was 23.  Not long after he carved the Pieta, by a cardinal, he was asked by the Pope to come to Rome, from Florence, to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  He begrudgingly agreed because his real love was sculpting and he was not familiar with painting frescos.  Of the 9 scenes / panels from the Book of Genesis, we learned that Michelangelo started with the last 3 in the story and these first (but really last) 3 panels he started with took him one year because he was so unfamiliar with the technique of fresco painting.  However, the last painting he did (which is really first in the series), of God took him one day.  This was three years later.

The Pieta, Michaelangelo- now behind bullet-proof glass

Once we were done with our tour, we were planning on walking up the Dome however, our tour guide thought they stopped letting people up at 5:30 was a little misinformed.  We had missed the chance to see Rome from the top of St. Peter’s.  Luckily, we have another two weeks here so we’ll have lots of chances to walk the 500 or so steps to the top to see the amazing views of Rome.

Family at St. Peter’s

Elsa at “South East”

Walking home from the Vatican, crossing the Tiber

We think we are planning on touring the Colosseum tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

Wednesday, October 17:  Hitting all the big sites right out of the gate — we have to leave something for next week!!  No worries, there is so much to see and do in Rome.  The history is unbelievable.  Plus, with homeschooling half the day, we only have a half a day anyway Mon – Fri set aside for exploring.

Today was a big day. Toured the Colosseum.  It was just as impactful and awe-inspiring as it was when I toured it with my family in May of 2000.

Kids listening to their audio guides

Black cat at the Colosseum — he’s the big “cat” here nowadays. No man-eating lions here.

Me with the kids like me and my dad in 2010

Henry as photographer

Heading out to Pantheon to see the lights at night and eat dinner at a typical Roman restaurant.

Pantheon at night

Thursday, October 18: We walked to the Forum and got lucky because a tour was leaving as we walked up so we joined. Perfect timing.

Henry showing Elsa his “Rome Reconstructed” book. 🙂

View from inside the Forum

Palatine Hill

After we toured the Forum we walked up to Palatine Hill – the place where Rome was founded. This area is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands way above the Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other.

According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave, known as the Lupercal, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that kept them alive. According to this legend, the shepherd Faustulus found the infants, and with his wife Acca Larentia raised the children. When they were older, the boys killed their great-uncle, and they both decided to build a new city of their own on the banks of the River Tiber. Suddenly, they had a violent argument with each other and in the end Romulus killed his twin brother Remus. This is how “Rome” got its name – from Romulus.   Funny, the kids had a long lesson about ancient Rome and this fit so well into their visit to the Palatine.

Kids at Palatine

Charlie and kids at Palatine

St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance- from the Palatine

Not sure what our plans are for tomorrow. TGIF!

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

Friday, October 19: Friday we explored all modes of Rome’s public transit — trams, buses and subways.  Got a little lost getting to the Borghese Gardens but finally made it.  We had a Rome Pass that included transport and up until yesterday we had not used it at all so I would say we got our money’s worth.
The gardens are huge, second largest public park in Rome so we decided to see more of the park and get a peddle car.  It had a motor which helped with some of the hills however, it was no match for the super fast bus and car drivers of the Rome roads.  We made a little wrong turn in the park and headed out onto the main road. After about 10 seconds we realized that there were no other peddle cars out on the road except for us.  Here we are cruising down the right hand lane of this road, buses whizzing by — oops.  In retrospect, pretty funny.  Of course, in between stuffing their faces with Pringles the kids think this is cool.  Me?  Maybe not as much.  Got ourselves turned back around and headed into the park again.  I peddled, peddled, peddled and then finally realized that my efforts were mostly for naught.  Apparently, the driver and passenger (on the same side) were responsible for 90% of the get up and go of the Bici Pincio Mobile.  I was along for the ride apparently.

One other note about the Bici Pincio, it was slightly terrifying cruising down some of the hills in the park. Our wheels really got up some speed. Of course, the kids are in the back whooping it up and shouting and holding their hands above their hands like it’s some ride at Universal or something.

We were treated to a great view from the top.

I get in line to use the restroom and Charlie cannot help himself.  The kids and him have found a claw game.  2 euros gives you three attempts. So, for 2 euros the kids are the proud owners of …

Charlie’s attempt at the claw yields…

Not one

but two animals.

Walking back to the apartment we went along Via del Corso – the great shopping street in Rome. When passing what the kids call “Kitty City” we found Daniel’s twin brother.

Daniel’s twin

Not sure what our plans are for Saturday but think it will be somewhat low-key.

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

Saturday, October 21:  Lots of walking again and the Children’s Museum were on the agenda for today.  We figured the kids needed a little time to run around and act like kids — not tourists or residents of Rome – shopping in the markets, riding the subways, etc.

I believe Henry and Elsa have found their calling.  Hopefully, Publix and SunTrust are hiring.  🙂

Henry fueling up

Do you think Publix is hiring?

Elsa at the bank

Another resident of the famous “Kitty Village” where Julius Caesar was slain on the Ides of March

The Kid’s Museum was located just north of Piazza Popolo.  One of the neatest features in the square is the Egyptian obelisk.  It was brought to Rome in 10 BC under order of Augustus and originally set-up in the Circus Maximus.  The history here is unbelievable.  

Obelisk in Piazza de Popolo.

Today, we are heading out to the Appian Way – the road, built in 312 BC was the longest, widest and straightest roads at that time and connected the city of Rome to Capua (city near Naples).  More on that later.

Thanks for reading.  Miss you all.


4 thoughts on “Stop 8: Rome and surrounding area travel notes and photos

  1. ooooo, I love all these stories and photos! so cool and amazing. xo Annie

    p.s. I remember being 10 when we lived in Brazil. We would take touring trips outside of Sao Paulo and walk and walk to see church after church……It wore me out! Good for the kids doing all this!

  2. OMG – photos are amazing! Looks like great weather. I love all the history of that city & appreciate your descriptive writings of the sites. I never had tour guide of Vatican, but will make sure I do that next time! Miss you all.

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