I LOVE this city! 3 days is not going to be nearly enough!!
It is 9.30pm on Tuesday night and we are completely exhausted…in a happy and satisfied kind of way!
The day started out..well…I was going to say the day started out with our first tour. But just backtracking a bit….I think I drove Sim nuts in the night as I got up quite a few times to open the shutter and look at the square as there was always something going on
. And then from about 6am onwards the stall holders started to arrive and set up the market and I was loving it all too much to get back to sleep so Sim and I got up and left the kids asleep and went and wandered around the square to watch the market beginning to take shape. It was fascinating. Women were chopping up salad leaves for displays, men were calling across the square to each other as they set out their fruit and vegetables. Such magnificent looking produce it was too! Flowers were being unloaded from tiny motorbike vans, spices set out, fresh juice being squeezed etc etc. Sim and I found a tiny little coffee shop down a little alley and sat and had a latte and a pastry. After soaking all that up we were pretty keen for the kids to see it all too so we went back and woke them up and then wandered around getting breakfast in the square for them. Strawberries and cream for Ari, prosciutto and cheese foccacias for John and Jordy, fresh orange juice, and hot chocolates.
9am was time to meet our guide at the front door of our apartment. Her name was Alyssia and she gave us the most AMAZING 4 hour walking tour of Rome. I could have listened to her all day. It just made me want to know more and more about Rome and its history. We started at the French Embassy which she told us used to belong to the Farnese family but was captured by Napoleon and since that time has been French owned
. It's a beautiful villa and while we sat on a ledge outside she gave us a rundown of the history of the area. And then we went….EVERYWHERE! Jewish Ghetto, Jewish synagogue, old theatres, fountains, piazzas. To be honest I can hardly remember everything we have done today…complete brain overload!! Thankfully Sim had his trusty little notebook on hand and took copious notes so we can remember everything. She took us through a thousand different alleyways with a different ruin around every corner. Rome is a mosaic of many different eras built on top of each other and there are pieces of history to be found on so many buildings. We had the best time with Alyssia and hope to be able to book her for a Vatican tour at the end of our holiday when we are back in Rome for a day.
After the tour with Alyssia we had a quick pizza and drink sitting on some steps in the Trastevere area and then took a taxi to the Colosseum to meet our next guide, Sonia, for a tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. WOW! Words fail me to describe that experience. I am in love with the ruins! They take your breath away and the places you stand on and walk past are…well…it’s just completely ridiculous…to be standing next to the arch of Titus for example….completely surreal and totally amazing
. To walk along the pavement, the same stones as the Triumphal March after Titus returned from Jerusalem gives you goosebumps. At one stage Sonia pointed out a laurel bush (from which wreaths were made) and picked some for us to smell…it was gorgeous. I called out to John who was a bit behind "John! Here’s laurel!" . He was looking all around for this person called laurel who he was supposed to know. It was a funny moment. The Colosseum is so beautiful. I was just amazed at the complicated architecture and the size of it all. After touring the ruins you really have the impression that Ancient Rome was an incredibly sophisticated city.
We finished all the touring about 5.30pm and then quickly went to look at the Cat Sanctuary which is one of the things Jordy had wanted to see in Rome (of course!). It is a huge colony of cats that live in the ruins adjacent to where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Volunteers look after the health of the cats, desex and feed them. Jords loved it!
By this time I was thinking we could go back to apartment as I wasn’t sure I could walk much more
. But no, the indefatigable Sim decided he wanted to go and see the Appian Way. So we hailed a cab and travelled about half hour to the outskirts of Rome where we had been told the original Appian Way was. We asked the cab driver to wait while we had a look at it…..only problem being, we couldn’t find it..and he could barely speak English and didn’t seem to know what we were looking for. Ari suddenly found a little map inside a courtyard and realised we needed to be further down the road so off the boys and Sim set at a cracking pace with Jords and I straggling along behind. I was a bit unenthusiastic until we actually came to the spot of the original road with the original sign posts and stood on the original stones and thought about Paul travelling to Rome……….and then it all became worthwhile. Meanwhile poor little taxi driver was probably wondering if we were ever going to return!!
We then headed back home and had tea down a little alleyway off Campo de Fiori in a traditional family run restaurant with great big bowls of pasta and red and white checked tablecloths and a boars head on the wall! I find myself thinking quite a lot about Asterix and Obelix while in Rome!! Pretty good history lessons in those books.
We strolled around the alleyways and looked in teeny weeny shops, then we all had a gelati and headed back home to collapse. Tomorrow Pompeii!! Will post photos while travelling on the train to Pompeii…free WIFI..woohoo! Am heading to bed RIGHT NOW!