This is it. Our final stop on the Italy Adventure. It’s taken nearly a year, but shortly the write ups will be complete.
Our arrival in Rome was exciting because we picked the angriest cab driver we’ve ever had. His anger didn’t display itself at us, but rather through his driving. Luckily it was late at night, so the streets were quieter, but my heart was pounding the whole ride, and I kept thinking of the Knight Bus scene from Harry Potter. Jump to 1:10 to see the exciting part.
We literally had a little old Italian cross our path and I feared for her life.
The angry cabbie poured out our quivering flesh in front of our really big door, and we found our splendid host, Massimiliano, waiting for us.
The exciting thing about our Rome home was that it felt like we were staying at a really eccentric Grandma’s house. Here’s the official listing, and here’s our tour with commentary:
What might be this little box in the corner of the kitchen?
Cheese grater? Very large veggie steamer? Salad spinner?
Just your standard Torture Chamber washing machine!
I swear to you it felt like Massimiliano’s grandma had just died the month before and he cleaned out her clothes and started renting the place out. Or, as Monkey likes to say, the Rome was her favorite apartment because it felt so “homey.”
The family photos wall…in our bedroom.
The Mary Poppins light.
Photos of Grandma’s dead relatives.
Grandma likes a cluttered kitchen.
Grandma had lots of glassware.
Grandma left all her umbrellas and canes for us to use. Kind Grandma.
We shared our bedroom with the perky-breasted one.
I was sitting on the bed above on a video chat for work one afternoon, and one of my bosses said, “I feel like you will be reading people’s palms after we get off this call.”
Monkey loved her cozy space.
A semi-cozy nook for reading.
We did love staying here. We were in the Trastavere neighborhood in Rome, which was an excellent location. There was a cafe right by our front door. A little grocery store/veggie stand was right across the street. The large grocery store was about 17 blocks away. The tram stopped directly in front of the apartment. And we were high enough up that the apartment was quiet, although the rumble of the tram was noticeable at first.
The “Thank you Santa Maria” wall we walked past on the way to the grocery store.
The Santa Maria wall from the picture above lead to some interesting conversations. There was a little shrine with a statue of the Saint behind glass. People would write their prayers on little slips of paper and slide them behind the glass.
After the prayer was answered, they would create a “thank you” plaque and have it put up on the wall.
Many, many prayers, and a great deal of faith.
Because we were close to the end of our trip, we made sure to grab some great tours for these last few days.
We were waiting for one of our tour guides to find us:
Waiting for Valentina.
Family selfies are hard.
Valentina took us through the Coliseum:
Dice and gambling have been around for a very long time.
She was a treat!
People sharing their passion for a subject makes it fascinating.
The holes show where the marble “wallpaper” was removed from the walls.
So much history.
The Coliseum had canvas tarps to block the sun.
Then Valentina took us UNDERGROUND!
The Basilica di San Clemente is built on not one, but two previous houses of worship, including a pagan temple. It fascinating to wander through these ancient areas.
No pictures were allowed underground, so you’ll have to trust me. It was amazing…and dark…and a lot spooky.
Valentina wrapped things up with a trivia game to see what we remembered from the tours.
On another day, we trekked to the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain to toss in our coins to ensure our return.
The Pantheon is fascinating, and we sang some as we walked around inside. It’s a building designed to have singing inside it. From the Rome.info website:
However, the Roman Pantheon in its present state allows us a glimpse into the marvelous and stunning world of Roman architecture. The dome would have been gilded to look like the heavenly sphere of all the gods that the name Pantheon evokes. The oculus was an engineering gem of the Roman world. No oculus had even dared come close in size to the one in the Pantheon. It is still lined with the original Roman bronze and is the main source of light for the whole building. As the earth turns the light flows in to circle the interior making the viewer aware of the magnificence of the cosmos. The oculus was never covered and rain falls into the interior and runs off the slightly convex floor to the still functioning Roman drainpipes underneath. (The oculus is the hole in the center of the roof.)
The Trevi Fountain:
We had a different tour guide for The Vatican on another day. The Vatican was crowded, and having a private guide allowed us to bypass lines and large tour groups. We pushed about 45 minutes past the Buster’s point of tolerance on this day, but everyone did their best.
It was crowded.
The amazing art everywhere.
The most human looking lion you will ever see.
Buster is about done at this point.
I was fascinated to learn that in St. Peter’s Basilica the priests didn’t want the paintings to fade over time, so they had all of them done in mosaic tiles.
Rome was a great place for feeling comfortable and relaxing for all of us. Buds and I had some lovely walks. The children slept well, and we all took a deep breath as we prepared to head home.
One last cafe outing.
One funny story I want to remember in a few decades: We were taking the tram to meet up with one of our tour guides. The tram driver made such an abrupt stop that people flew around inside the tram cars. It was one of those universal moments that connected all the people inside the tram. People grabbed onto each other for support and to protect each other.
Once we were all sure we were fine, there was a bubbling up of laughter and shock as people relived the moment.
At the next stop, three or four of the folks who got off the train went up to the front of the train to the driver’s cab (which is not accessible from inside the tram), and gave him a grand telling off. The driver got out of his cab, gave them his perspective in no uncertain terms, and then they all wrapped it up and went on their way.
What was fascinating to me was the difference in tenor and cadence compared to an argument in the U.S.
There was never any sense that things would escalate or get out of control. It was both women and men yelling at the driver. The driver was doing just as much hand-waving and yelling as everyone else. It was like watching a pantomime of an argument. Everyone wanted to express their opinion…then they were done.
The end of our time in Rome was a little anti-climactic.
Our flight to Istanbul was leaving very, very early in the morning, and because of recent terrorist attacks, we expected extra security. This meant we stayed at a hotel by the airport on our last night in Rome.
Final packing up of the backpacks.
The hotel was attached to the airport so we boarded the train for one last ride to the airport.
The Leonardo Da Vinci Statue at the airport could be seen with his upraised arm slightly in the distance.
On the long walk between the hotel and the airport, we passed this same person’s space a couple times.
A dry, safe space.
Such a reminder after our 7 weeks of paradise that we had been living in a fairytale.
Our last Italian sleeping spots.
Buster’s apple juice at dinner in the hotel.
The odd apple juice color and our last supper in Italy at the hotel, which served American-esque food, was a clear reminder that we had left food paradise behind.
The hotel pool required swim caps, which kept slipping off their heads.
A few last family pictures.
Ready to load.
We stayed overnight in Boston in preparation for a very early flight to Nashville.
Eating at the Mexican restaurant attached to the hotel was a bit of a shocking return to American food, but we managed to enjoy ourselves.
You’re not in Italy any more, Buds.
One last flight, here we go:
And we’re back.
Here we were at the beginning of the adventure:
Whole Foods for dinner.
And here we are at the end:
We look the same, but we’re not.
We were grateful to be home, but oh, what an adventure it was.
Can’t wait for the next one.