Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Friday, November 30, 2018

Italy (Day 2) Early Bird Gets...Rome Without Crowds!

Perks of staying in the ❤️ of Rome = sunrise delights!  Molly and I may have frightened a few pigeons with our high-pitched giggles as we gallivanted through the empty Piazza Della Rotondra.  Wowsers - the Pantheon looks so majestic in the morning sun and the main square is HUGE without all the people.

It's 6am in Rome!

Love our hotel Albergo Abruzzi!

Heavy Lifting

Molly size car :)

After wandering a bit, we headed back to pick up Rob and Caitlin. It was still so early, that the coffee shop wasn't yet open.

With some grumbling, we roused the other half awake and got them outside.  Rome is incredible with ruins just about everywhere and the juxtaposition to the modern buildings makes them even more impressive. 

We tripped over these ruins smack dab in the middle of our walking path. Gosh, we are loving Rome!

Free ice cold drinking water from one of the city's 2500 traditional free-flowing water fountains.  You will come to appreciate these fountains!

The full Chic Family crew shaking off sleep stood giddy before a near-empty Trevi Fountain. Trust me, this is a huge deal as a later stroll showed us absolute zero view of any water due to the throngs of wall-to-wall people. 

Two clowns.  At the Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome dating back to ancient Roman times, since the construction of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct in 19 B.C. that provided water to the Roman baths and the fountains of central Rome. It’s said that the Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, is named in honor of a young Roman girl who led thirsty soldiers to the source of the spring to drink.  (Walks of Italy - 9 Surprising Trevi Fountain Facts)

With our crowd-free access right to the front we set up for our obligatory coin toss, a tradition to guarantee return travels. Some questions - right hand or left hand, over right shoulder or left, eyes closed or open? Oh, yes. We tossed many coins just to be sure.
Guess where we went after breakfast? My 4th time in the Pantheon 😂 but this time was the best because it was near EMPTY and the whole crew was together.

We are such tourists!

Cheesy Family Portrait 😂

Now, we were actually supposed to have our Colosseum Underground VIP Tour today, but just a few weeks before travel we received a notification that it had to be rescheduled to the following afternoon (tomorrow).  This would be combined with our already scheduled Vatican tour making for a full day.  Rather than try to fill the unexpected break in this day with another tour, we kept it chill and simply ate, drank, and soaked in the vibe.  Oh, wait.  We did do a surprise tour in the evening and it was awesomely spooky - can you guess?

Yes, champagne and beer! 😂

Caitlin is making herself right at home with frequent visits to gelato shops.  We encourage the children to be independent and explore on their own when we travel, especially in local markets.  I love the confidence I see in the girls as they effortlessly interact with all peoples.

Champagne, beer... limoncello?! These things just happen 😂. Rome service for the win!

There's something about Piazza Navona that kept us coming back!

We just realized that this heavily guarded building that we keep passing is actually the seat of the Senate of the Italian Republic - Madama Palace.

A last minute booking with Walks of Italy for an after-dark private viewing of Bones, Crypts, and Catacombs was a definite hit! We thought Molly would be scared, but she proclaimed it an AWESOME OH WOW AMAZING SUPER COOL experience (we concluded that she liked it 😂).

Entrance to Catacombs
We enter here to begin our evening of strolling Bones, Crypts, and Catacombs 👻! I told my joke of "So, there's this movie where the tourists...". Rob didn't think it funny 😂

Just so you know, none of the catacomb pics are mine. They are actually pics I took of postcards that I purchased at the sight. No photography is allowed. 

This tour was fascinating and because it was unplanned, we had no idea what to expect to see.  Real human bones are displayed as "art"!

Our tour first took us to the Catacomb of Santa Priscilla. One of Rome's first underground Christian cemeteries (dating back to 150 years before Christianity was legalized), this site has extraordinary ancient frescoes, eerie tunnels and the world's single oldest depiction of the Virgin Mary.

We visited another site that was even more shocking – the Capuchin bone crypt, a cemetery literally built from bones! The chambers are decorated with the remains of some 4,000 friars. For kids, it’s a fascinating lesson in anatomy and for adults, a moving reminder of what we’ll all become. The message at the end of crypt says it all: “What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you will be.”

Finally, we visited Basilica San Nicola in Carcere, the very center of 3rd century BC Rome in the midst of three separate temples. We descended through a crypt used in the 12th century for exorcisms, passing stacks of ancient human bone fragments. 

All along the tour, we enjoyed our guide's vast knowledge and great storytelling.  It appears that you can visit these sights on your own, but I can't imagine not having a guide.  We may not retain the knowledge, but to hear it, absorb it, and let our imagine run wild while in the moment - priceless!  Our girls are still regaling us with their memories of the catacombs of Rome.

After the tour, we wandered about back near the Pantheon and stumbled into a real gem for dinner - Achille Pantheon.  Both kids got their own whole fish. And, proceeded to devour it.

Roma artichoke 😋 so delicious!

Today, we discovered ourselves falling victim to what seems to be the normal operandi of complimentary welcome drinks (champagne) pre-meal followed by complimentary drinks (limoncello) post-meal. Perhaps, we are just getting even better at our restaurant selections! 

Tomorrow is our go-hard day in Rome, so off to 😴 Buona Notte, Dormi Bene da Roma!

Up Next: Rome - Guardians and Gladiators