When in Rome
It’s taken me this long to figure out where to even begin. Our three-week trip to Italy now seems like a dream, a blip in the summer where we traded in the normalcy of good old American pool parties and firework dotted skies for endless gelato and oven-hot cities where the streets twist like grapevines. Over our 20 days of wine drenched wander, we went from Denver to Munich to Rome to Florence to a farm outside of Siena to an island out in the sea and back. We traveled by plane and bus, train and ferry, and made ourselves dizzy driving along the rolling hills of Tuscany. It was exciting and strange and difficult. There were times we longed to come home and times we were desperate to stay.
Italy or Bust
Our adventure started with a red-eye to Munich. We flew with Lufthansa, which wasn’t my favorite. Leading up to the flight, I had a difficult time getting anyone to help me with the kids menu to check for Skinny Jeans’ allergies. Apparently, not a single person knows what the hell is in the food they are serving. While I’m completely accustomed to bringing food for Skinny Jeans, the flight was over 10 hours long and one can only keep food cold for so long. The safest bet was the vegan meal, but you try feeding a seven-year-old flaccid tofu and fart-smelling broccoli.
We landed in Munich where, much to our surprise, there was a play area right by our gate. In the couple of hours we had to wait for our next flight, Skinny Jeans made friends with kids from different countries, all speaking different languages. It was incredible to watch how much language and nationality meant nothing to a bunch of kids playing hide-n-seek.
Calling Rome Home
Rome was our next stop and we got there just in time to enjoy the afternoon and settle into what would be our new digs for a few days. Opting to stay somewhat close to the action, we chose the Hotel Serena, a modest boutique hotel with breakfast and fat and friendly dog at the reception. The room included a queen bed and a twin--perfect for the three of us. After unpacking, we wandered around for a bit, taking in the bustling streets and blowing off the eager waiters all vying for our business. As the temperature spiked to 95 degrees, we were on the hunt for something to cool us off. A trip to oldest gelateria in Rome, Fassi, did the trick. Tired from travel and exhausted by the heat, we went to bed early, cranked the air conditioning as high as it would go, and didn’t even mind the rock-hard mattresses.
Explain it to me like I'm five
The next morning, we met my sister and her family who had just arrived from the States, and took the bus to the Pantheon where our tour guide, Katia, was waiting. Katia was recommended to us by a friend, the principal at the American School in Rome. As a group of seven with kids ages 7, 11, and 15, I was worried about how to keep everyone engaged during the three-hour tour. Rome, to a kid, looks like it’s broken, like a run-down apartment complex where the slumlord refuses to fix anything. But, Katia did not disappoint. In the time we spent with her at the Pantheon and Colosseum, she was able to bring the ruins to life with her captivating stories (and trusty iPad). And while the Pantheon was stunning with its giant oculus and the Colosseum breathtaking and surreal, my favorite part of the tour were the lesser known stories and secrets Katia shared. Like, did you know the pope has his own personal store where he gets his socks? Or, that behind the Pantheon there’s a sculpture of an elephant flipping off (among other things) a monastery because the artist was in an argument with the priest who lived there? History buff, I am not. But give me a good, gross story, and I'm in like the rest of the kids. Katia quickly learned her audience.
Our first full day in Rome was soaked in history, mysteries, and more sweat than I’m proud to admit. We were off to a great start and ready to tackle the next thing: The Vatican. In 100 degree heat. With a kid. Just us and about 1 million other tourists. What could possibly go wrong?
Where to Stay: Hotel Serena. Simple and small. Close to the train station and lots of restaurants.
What to Do: Pantheon and Colosseum. When in Rome!
Where to Eat: I can’t say our first day included any fine dining. We popped into a ristorante, La Piccola Cuccagna, for classic Roman pizzas before the Pantheon. It was good and the Peroni was cold.
Fassi is a fun place to visit, lots of antique gelato-making machinery and delicious gelato.
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