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Italy Recap #8: Rome

November 28, 2012

And, finally, the *final* recap in our Italy vacay saga.  It only took 3 months to pull it all together. 🙂

We arrived in Rome late in the afternoon and headed to pick up our apartment keys immediately, then headed to the apartment.  We rented this apartment and it was fine — the location, though, was AMAZING.  The inside of the apartment was relatively newly remodeled and clean enough, though the carpet could use a solid vacuuming and someone left a rotting cleaning rag in a drawer in one of the bathrooms that really stunk by the end of our stay.  Not the cleanest, but not the dirtiest place I’ve ever stayed, either.  We had to pay in advance for A/C that we didn’t end up using, we were told we had to pay a surcharge for picking up keys on Sunday just on the spot (would have been good to know in advance as we had to pay the balance in cash — this part seemed like a scam to me), and picking up the keys in a different location than the apartment was kind of a pain.120902Italy4590.jpg

BUT, We were just a few blocks from the pantheon, on a typical old Roman street (see above).  We walked everywhere we wanted to go within Rome because of our central location.  There were lots of places to get food, gelato, groceries nearby, so that was handy.  I’d stay here again solely because of the location.

As we were walking our neighborhood, we randomly stumbled into this little (and incredibly gorgeous) church — the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi.  There were some beautiful paintings, one of Caravaggio’s best/most famous paintings, which brought back some Freshman year of college memories (when we learned about and performed in living paintings Caravaggio’s works).

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It feels incredible to randomly stumble on something as magnificent as this:

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And that happened a lot in Rome.  We made a point of peeking in just about every little church we walked past, and there was often serious beauty within.

On our first night, we found dinner near the uber-crowded Piazza Navona, then walked to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

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The Trevi fountain was super-crowded and there were roses thrust into my hands by aggressive street vendors (thieves?).  Not my favorite place to be, and especially not when I’ve got a little one to be concerned about.  We didn’t stay long and left rattled but unharmed.

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The next day, we walked to the Colosseum.  Rome is really incredible because there’s so so many layers of history here.  I spent much of our walk trying to figure out how they determine which bit of history is most important to display.  So if you’ve got something 500 years old on top of something 2000 years old, which one wins?  Should we keep uncovering the layers until we get to the oldest layer or are some of the newer things worth keeping?  At what point is historical preservation keeping us from using the space to function in our lives as they are now?  For example, there is some work towards a new subway line occurring, but they keep uncovering new historical findings so the subway line progress is halted.  It’s cool that they keep making new discoveries, but at what point is this hampering any possible modern use of this space?

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We bought the pricey Rome passes to avoid waiting in line, and we decided it was worth every penny.  We also got the official behind the scenes tour that included under the stage and up on the 4th floor, and it was amazing.  Our tour guide was great, and the history of the building fascinating.  (If only our toddler would have been equally interested — as it was, J and I took turns and each heard half of the spiel, trying to fill each other in on what we heard when we could).

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Even if Lil wasn’t into the history of the Colosseum, she seemed to enjoy her visit.  She got in lots of walking, running, stone-collecting, and sand-eating.  It was kind of amazing to see our baby just wandering through this amazing site.

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We went under the stage for the second part of the tour, and this happened:

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and my DLSR died forever.

BIG SAD FACE. 😦

I was really really really irrationally sad.  Luckily, though, we had our iphones with us, and they take pretty decent pictures (sometimes).  So the rest of our vacay pics are iphone gems.

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A little hard to be too upset about the DLSR when I still came away from vacation with the above photo.

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After our tour of the Colosseum, we headed towards Capitol Hill and the Forum before grabbing dinner and heading back to our apartment for Lil’s bedtime.

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Our second day in Rome was the only rainy day on our entire trip.  Amazing, right?

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Of course, we were totally unprepared and I refused to buy an umbrella from the dudes selling them on the street.  We had an extra blanket for Lil that we wrapped her in to keep her a bit dryer and warmer.  And then we walked to the Vatican.

Our first stop was the Vatican museum.  I wanted Jason to see the Sistine Chapel ceiling because I remember seeing it a little over 10 years ago and being totally impressed.  We were stopped outside the museum by the million tour guides hanging out there and it was overwhelming — between the rain, the crowd of people, and 12 tour guides trying to talk to us as once, we just started saying, “back away! please leave us alone!”  Too many people huddled around my stroller-bound baby for my comfort.  I swooped over her in a protective way, Jason somehow pissed off one of the tour guides who started yelling, “you are an evil man!  why are you punishing your baby by staying out in the rain?!  you are a bad bad man!  I am trying to give you information that could help you and you insist on punishing your baby by making her suffer in the rain!”

Anyways, somehow, through all of this madness Jason figured out that people were trying to tell us that we could go to the front of the line at the museum because we had a baby.  It didn’t really make sense to us, but we gave it a shot and it worked — we were let into the museum right away, without advanced tickets, all it took was one sopping wet baby.

Also, we now often joke about how we punished our baby by taking her to Rome.  Bad baby!  Don’t make me take you on vacation!

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Wandering through the Vatican museum probably isn’t fun without a toddler because of the insane crowds, but it was even less fun with a toddler.  I was so very thankful that I brought the Ergo Carrier with me that day so I could keep her close.  There’s just no way we could have taken a stroller through the museum.

Every inch of the museum is covered in ornate decoration.  It’s pretty spectacular.  Lil’s favorite part of the museum was the animal room, where she pointed at dog statues and panted.  We also neighed at the horses, snorted at the pigs, and so on.  She smiled.  Add snorting and neighing in the Vatican museum to the oh-so-long list of things I would have never done pre-baby that are done without a second thought post-baby.

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Our next stop was St Peters.  We found an empty space inside where Lil could walk around for a little while.  After being worn through the entire Vatican Museum, I think she was ready to move.

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And then we went back outside into the rain and wind and cold so that I could nurse her.  Not my favorite location to feed my baby, but I was respecting the church’s rules.  Fortunately, Lilly fell asleep relatively quickly and we were able to go back in.

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When we were done in St Peter’s, we walked back towards our apartment.

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After changing into warmer, dryer clothes, we headed towards the Pantheon to check out what was inside.

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We found a guy trying to out-instagram his wife (not gonna happen) and Lil found the only dog in the whole place.

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After chasing pigeons (ewewewewewewew) and eating dinner, we grabbed gelato.  Lil scooped her own (as usual) and we let her really go for it.  The guys in the gelato shop even gave her her own little cone and laughed as they watched what she did with it.  Chocolate gelato everywhere.

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Our last day in Rome was also my 32nd birthday.  We did a lot of wandering, starting off at the nearby Pantheon so that we could let Lil wander the beautiful courtyard in front of it for a while.

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We headed over to the Trevi fountain.  We purchased a rain jacket from a nearby store as assurance that the rain from our previous day in Rome wouldn’t return.

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We found an apple for Lil, and she munched on it in her stroller for a solid hour and a half.

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We went to see the creepy cool Capuchin monk bone art.  It was incredible, surreal, and horrible all at once.  Strangely, this is what I chose to do on my birthday.  This, and I wanted to see kitties in the ruins (because I thought Lil would think it was cool, I’m still not a big kitty fan).

Next up, a walk past more ruins in an effort to get back over to the Forum.

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We toured the Forum with Rick Steve’s Audioguide. (and I fell in love with podcasts.  I also fell in love with the ability to read books on my phone during this trip.  So convenient!)  Lil’s diaper got changed in the Forum. (and then later I discovered that this was the *only* historical place that had actual changing tables in the restrooms… oops.)

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We also saw kitties in the ruins.  Also, there’s a cat sanctuary in ruins near the forum, which has got to be the coolest place ever for a cat sanctuary.

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We ate a quick dinner & gelato before heading back to the apartment to pack up.

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Our flight left early the following morning, but not before Lil got in one last stoop sitting. 🙂  Our ride to the airport was ridiculous — too fast, with a driver who talked perhaps too much, and my baby not in a car seat.  I’m not always the best flyer, and Jason made sure to point out when we got to the airport that we had just survived the most dangerous portion of our travels.  True, JT, so true.

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We had a connecting flight in Frankfurt, Germany, where we ate delish Thai food and big pretzels.  The large windows gave Lil a perfect spot to watch planes drive past and then take off.  Every time she’d see one, she’d yell, “AIR!” so loud.  A man near us kept looking over at her and smiling every time she did this.  It was really sweet, and gave us the opportunity to talk to her about the planes going up up up in the air with accompanying hand signal and whoosh noise.  She continues to show us how the planes go up up up and shwoosshhhhh.  She also listens for airplanes when we’re outside and points to her ear when she hears them.  The girl is obsessed.

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And, with that, we boarded the 9 hour flight home.  Lil slept for one (ONE!) of those 9 hours.  She watched a video on gorillas for 45 min.  And other than that, she was read to, played with, and loved on, and she was so happy and well behaved the ENTIRE time.  Jason and I were relieved by her behavior, but exhausted from providing near constant entertainment, both of us jealously eyeing the sleeping toddler in the bassinet next to Lil’s…

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*end trip recap*

…and now to recap all of September, October, and November.  I am overwhelmed by how behind I am at sharing news with you.  I’ll have to just throw up a few photo posts and call it good. 🙂

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2012 11:26 am

    I have loved seeing your Italy recap! My husband and I just spent eight days in Rome in April and it really was the most amazing place. I could not stop taking pictures! I felt the most emotional/moved in the Pantheon and also seeing Pieta in St. Peter’s. My husband and I both carried iPods with those Rick Steve’s podcasts and I have to agree that they were so wonderful! I am glad you guys had such a great trip!

  2. November 29, 2012 6:43 pm

    I have LOVED your Italy trip reports, especially as you visited so many places that I have been to. We loved the Pantheon square in Rome (our balcony overlooked it – heaven!). I too listened to Rick Steves audio guides around Rome – so much easier than having my head in a guide book! You iphone pics are impressive – but sorry to hear about your DSLR.

    So …. where and when is your next adventure? I enjoy travelling with you through your blog.

    Any plans to introduce Lily to Ireland? We have a cottage near the Giants Causeway you are welcome to borrow 🙂

  3. December 16, 2012 5:22 pm

    LOVED reading all of this trip recap! Your iPhone photos are fabulous (sorry about your camera, though). Lil reminds me a lot of Annabelle, who would also manage to be happy yet not sleep at all on a 9-hour flight. Thanks for sharing this with your readers!

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