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A Roman Holiday (part 2)

30 Jul
A Roman Holiday (part 2)

I know, finally….but here goes!! (Part 1 can be viewed here)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

I woke up in our darkened room with butterflies in my stomach, so excited I could barely contain myself. But it was still early, and after a VERY long day, I promised the girls the night before that we could all sleep in a bit on Sunday. Except that, clearly, there was going to be no sleeping in for me.

I ended up reading with the bed light on, waiting for a decent time to wake up the girls, who were both sleeping as if they were never ever going to wake up. Eventually at 9am, I decided that they (surely) must have had enough sleep now, and woke them up. I had showered already, and was ready to go in search of some breakfast and coffee.

Bianca and I set out in search for a coffee shop or bakery. But it seemed like most of Rome was still fast asleep. Even our Al Forno spot from the day before was still closed. But, not too far down the road, we found a little bakery and ordered some cappuccino’s and a selection of croissants (or rather cornetti and brioche). No better way to kick start the day!!

Around 10am, we were ready to start our day. We needed to pop around a cellphone network provider to sort out the iPad 3G card, as I was using the iPad as a wifi hotspot so that we all could access the Internet. Which meant walking to the station on a Sunday morning. We also had to buy blister plasters for Bianca, who’s ‘comfortable walking shoes’ were definitely not made for cobblestones…

Our first stop was the Museo Nazionale Romano, more specifically the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, which promised to house one of the biggest collections of Classic art, sculptures, frescoes and mosaics. It was magnificent. The ground and first floor was devoted to sculptures and art of the period between the late Roman Republic and the early imperial period (according to Wikipedia between 2nd century BC to 1st century AD).

An ancient Roman calendar

An ancient Roman calendar

The resting boxer

The resting boxer

Sarcophagus of Portonaccio

Sarcophagus of Portonaccio

Sleeping Hermaphroditus

Sleeping Hermaphroditus (Bianca’s picture)

Mosaics (Bianca's picture)

Mosaics (Bianca’s picture)

Discobolus

Discobolus

The second floor were filled with frescoes and the most magnificent mosaics I have ever seen, several of which were from the Villa of Livia (the wife of Augustus), at Prima Porta on the Via Flaminia. The mosaics are from the 1st century BC to the 4th centure AD. I was awed by the painted garden of the Villa of Livia, filled with exotic images of birds, trees, flowers all against a blue-grey background that invites you to sit down and rest your weary feet (which, of course we did).

The girls in the painted garden of the villa of Livia

The girls in the painted garden of the villa of Livia

Stunning mosaics

Stunning mosaics

The basement housed the largest numismatics collection in Italy. And since I now work for a Mint, which produces numismatic coins (i.e. collectors items), I was especially interested.

Part of the Numismatic collections

Part of the Numismatic collections

Anya posing in front of some VERY valuable medallions

Anya posing in front of some VERY valuable medallions

Leaving the museum, it was already after lunch time and our feet were very tired, so we walked back to the apartment (by now the 2km walk to our apartment felt like 10km…). We shared some delicious pane stuffed with parma ham and cheese and stretched out on the beds of our air conditioned apartment for a siesta.

Late afternoon, we braved the Rome bus system again, this time travelling to the Campius Martius, bordering on the banks of the Tiber river. We walked along the river, turning into Via dei Coronari, across the river from Castle Sant’ Angelo. Our first stop was the Piazza Navona, a long oblong shaped square with no less than 3 fountains. On the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune. The centrepiece is Fontana dei Quattro Fiuimi or Fountain of the Four Rivers, by Bernini, next to the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Bernini’s arch rival Borromini, who was initially commissioned to design the fountain. On the southern end of the square is the Fontana del Moro, with a basin and four tritons.

Along the via

Along the Via dei Coronari

Fontana

Fontana del Moro

Piazza Novona with

Piazza Navona with the Church of Sant’Agnese (Bianca’s picture)

Along the Piazza Navona

Along the Piazza Navona

Typical late afternoon scene on Piazza Navona

Typical late afternoon scene on Piazza Navona

Fountain of Neptune

Fountain of Neptune (Bianca’s picture)

Fontana dei Quattro Fiuimi

Fontana dei Quattro Fiuimi

Our next stop was the Pantheon. Stepping onto the Piazza della Rotunda, I felt utterly dwarfed by this two thousand year old Roman building. The interior consist of a rotunda or dome with an oculus in the centre providing natural light to the church, measuring 43.3 metres high.  It is indeed an architectural wonder. Afterwards, we just sat on the steps of the Fontana del Pantheon, with its 20-foot high red marble Egyptian obelisk and savoured the moment whilst eating gelato (and resting our feet)…

Pantheon (Bianca's picture)

Pantheon (Bianca’s picture)

The inside dome of the Pantheon 43m high

The inside dome of the Pantheon 43m high

Inside the Pantheon (Bianca's picture)

Inside the Pantheon (Bianca’s picture)

In front of the Pantheon (pic by some random stranger)

In front of the Pantheon (pic by some random stranger)

Gelato time...

Gelato time…

Our next planned stop was the Column of Marcus Aurelius, but en route we walked past the Church of Saint Ignatius (Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola), which I read about somewhere. The girls were a bit sceptical, but curiosity won and a ‘quick’ look inside turned out to be one of the best surprises of the afternoon. What wonder. A baroque style church built between 1626 and 1650, on the foundations of the humble Church of the Annunciation which was part of the Collegio Romano. The most impressive feature (in my book), is the grandiose fresco that stretches across the nave ceiling by Andrea Pozzo, including a fake dome, painted to give the impression that the roof had a cupola. This is rivalled by coloured marbled arches, and richly gilded ornaments and altars.

Church of Ignatius inside

Church of Ignatius inside

Marbled pillars with the frescoed ceiling

Marbled pillars with the frescoed ceiling

The frescoed ceiling

The frescoed ceiling

The Column of Marcus Aurelius was next on the list, even though we did see the column the previous night, in search for bus 71. The spiral column on Piazza Colonna, with the bronze statue of Saint Paul on top of it, flanked by Fontana di Piazza.

Circ

Column of Marcus Aurelius

Our next stop was the Fontana di Trevi, which I was really looking forward to, but which ended being the biggest disappointment of the day, as it was closed for construction.

With promises that this would be the last stop of the day, we started uphill towards the Spanish steps, which was also covered by construction screening, but still provided a glorious view of the sunset over ancient Rome.

View from the top of the Spanish steps

View from the top of the Spanish steps

Walking down the steps, we tried to find the Caffe Grecco along the Via dei Condotti, but only spotted the entrance upon retracing our steps. It was nestled between a selection of designer shops in this prestigious high end street, which (probably wisely) prompted us to rather find a place along a side street for dinner. We eventually found a little trattoria a couple of streets away which served prosecco by the glass (for me), and Fanta Orange for the girls (they LOVED the Fanta Orange in Italy, which tastes like real oranges) and delicious pasta. By now our feet were achingly sore, and I located the closest bus stop for our route home (ever reliable bus line 71!!).

Dinner time! (and a little rest for the feet...)

Dinner time! (and a little rest for the feet…)

We plopped down in bed, exhausted. But we had to get up early the next morning, as we were going to none other than the Vatican on a tour.

To be continued

PS. I thought I would be able to finish the rest of Rome in one post, but alas that was not to be…

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14 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Kids, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 responses to “A Roman Holiday (part 2)

  1. Eha

    July 31, 2014 at 4:54 am

    OMG, Milady, I have been to Rome over a dozen times without seeing all you three did 🙂 ! Great!! And Ignatius de Loyola after all was the one to say; ‘Give me a child for the first seven years of its life’! You quite obviously taught your two all the worthwhile things . . . OK – we were ‘boring’ throughout our almost three decades of visits: look at your Spanish Steps photo, come up about 20 steps, go to the photo’s left and you would have found us 🙂 !!! Every time 🙂 ! Hope you do not mind if I somehow find time to repost . . . for those who may not have done their ‘homework’ 😀 !!!!

     
    • Justcallmegertie

      July 31, 2014 at 5:03 am

      Hi Eha! Don’t mind at all. Unfortunately, there is just sooo much we didn’t get to. We missed the Caracalla baths (closed too early for us to make it the next afternoon) and looking at the maps again yesterday u see how close we were to some more piazzas and I would have loved to see villa borghese. But anyway, our feet would not have made it anyway!! Very proud of the girls, they are super duper and loved all the history and art!

       
      • Eha

        July 31, 2014 at 5:39 am

        [soft laughter! How can one possibly see ALL of Rome in just one stay!!!? OK – I and mine have seen the Villa Borghese, ’cause it was kind’of ‘next door’ 🙂 ! And I truly shall try not to tell about our family first-time trip to The Sistine Chapel – a sheer case of ‘oops’!!!!!!! Well, mine were only 6 & 8 😀 !!

         
      • Justcallmegertie

        July 31, 2014 at 5:54 am

        Oh, just wait…I still have to tell you about our Vatican visit!!!

         
  2. Eha

    July 31, 2014 at 6:01 am

    . . . am holding my breath!!!!!!!! . . .

     
  3. Madoqua

    July 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Wonderful, wonderful 🙂 I have a favourite a book by a young Australian girl who left her job to embrace the challenges and delights of working in Rome. Your stories remind me so much of all the things she enjoyed so much. You give me itchy feet!
    It’s impossible to tell who is Mom in your group photo, you all look so young and happy!

     
    • Justcallmegertie

      July 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Aah, thank you for the compliment. As reference, I will always be the shortest one 😄!
      We had such a fabulous time and I have seriously given myself itchy feet as well. Would love to go back to Italy at some stage in the future and spend a few months there. And yes, maybe I will also write a book about my experience. On the last night in Florence I spent some time googling long term rental prices….but I can’t do it now. One day…

       
      • Madoqua

        July 31, 2014 at 12:18 pm

        It’s so exciting, isn’t it!

         
      • Justcallmegertie

        July 31, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        I love travelling! Seeing new places, meeting new people, eating the food. I love exploring the supermarkets, and love to go off the beaten path to experience the ‘real’ local atmosphere. Not always easy, especially in a city like Rome, but you can try!

         
      • Madoqua

        July 31, 2014 at 12:25 pm

        That’s why we ride bikes in those destinations – it’s a great way to meet the locals, earn the right to enjoy the cuisine (!!) and see lots of details that are missed when travelling in motorised transport. Also saves the feet in the cities, as one has wheels!

         
      • Justcallmegertie

        July 31, 2014 at 12:37 pm

        Maybe I should dust off my bike 😄. Or my daughter’s bike, more like it. Haven’t been on a bicycle for years (last was when a friend and I rented bikes for a day in Bruges, more than six years ago I think)!

         
  4. Ingrid Chin

    July 31, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Love the pics! I might do one of my own, if you don’t mind me copycatting you! 🙂 My next bunch of pics I need to post are from our Italy trip from December 2012, and you have inspired me to commit something more than just a bunch of photos to Facebook. (I will get to doing Peru as well – sometime in the next 2 years!)

     
    • Justcallmegertie

      August 1, 2014 at 4:30 am

      Thank you! And of course you can ‘copy’ the idea 😄. I would love to read your Italian account! I am not even sure whether I will post a stack of pics on FB, maybe just some of me and the kids. What I do want to do is make a photo book, the closest I will ever get to scrap booking! And I can’t wait to read about your version of Peru!!

       

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