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Report 350: Gelato Run 2003 - A Week in Rome with An Extended Family

By Amy from MA, Summer 2003

Trip Description: Three weeks: a week outside Todi, a week in southern Tuscany, and a week in Rome. Travel companions were Amy and Larry, their two boys, 9 and 12; and Amy's parents, sister and brother-in-law.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Rome

Categories: Vacation Rentals; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; Adult Children w/ Parents; Adults and Young Children; Small Group: 5 to 9

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Page 1 of 2: Rome Observations

Our summer 2003 trip was our longest yet. Three weeks, spending a week outside Todi, a week in southern Tuscany, and a week in Rome. Travel companions were our two boys, 9 and 12; and Amy's parents, sister and brother-in-law.

See our Rome Photos on SlowTrips (link on the right)

We stayed in Rome for a total of eight days, split into two portions at the beginning and end of our trip. For convenience, I’m grouping our experiences into one section.

Can I go back now? I think I appreciate Fellini movies a lot more now. Crawling out from under the jetlag fog and adjustment to the heat, we fell in love with Rome. We tend to enjoy cities, and Rome is such a city. It’s manic, it’s confusing, it covers you with a sticky layer of ancient grime in the summer as you gasp for air. I can see that it cannot possibly appeal to all tastes. Given a choice, I would prefer a cooler and calmer time of year. But. But. All the layers of history, the astonishing sites, the frantic pace that slows down as we get involved in the details of spending time here. In a week we barely skim the surface of what the guidebooks put in a 3-day itinerary. Doesn’t matter, because we fully intend to return.

Outdoor Sauna I hope this will be the last I’ll say about it—but Good God Almighty, it was hot. We duck from shadow to shadow, drink astonishing quantities of water, cut our itinerary in half, and shower twice daily. The boys learn to stick their heads under the public water faucets. Each night we shamefully consume vast amounts of electricity to coax cool air from the air conditioning unit in the apartment. I have a new deity.

Home Via dei Cappellari off Campo dei Fiori doesn’t really have room for cars, but their drivers seem to know just how to inch their way through. The men working on stripping and refinishing furniture in the street don’t even put down their tools or cigarettes as cars brush inches from the wood. By the second day we know who works where; by the third day our kids are getting patted on their heads as they pass the shops; by the fourth we are being greeted by the women and children who sit outside in the evenings. When we return back after our two weeks away we feel as if we are returning home.

A Friendly Face Getting met by a private car service at the airport was a new experience for us, but it is a wonderful way to smooth entry and exit at the airport. Andrea at Limo Service Rome is professional and efficient, and the drivers a delight.

Apartment Life I know that I knew that the apartment would be on the fourth floor—but somehow, had never communicated that detail to Larry. He sets his jaw, and starts trudging up with the luggage. The stairway walls don’t look as if they’ve seen plaster or paint since Garibaldi was last in town. I am redeemed when we turn on the air conditioning. The apartment has an enormous bedroom with beamed ceiling and windows overlooking the street, a beautiful new bathroom, small but very functional kitchen, and a somewhat dark living room with amazingly comfortable sofabed for the boys. Almost right next door is a tiny bar, where we get freshly made sandwiches of prosciutto, cheese, and marinated vegetables. La Fiaschetta becomes “our” bar during our stay in Rome for drinks, delicious light meals, tv coverage of the Tour de France, and conversations with the owner and customers.

Ride to … Somewhere Armed with a blurry bus map printout from the ATAC website and a handful of tickets, we take a bus at least once a day to preserve our feet. Somewhat challenging as we realize that with all the one-way streets, the routes often vary in the reverse direction. To further add to the fun, the routes on the map do not always match the stops shown on the bus signs. No matter—we hop on and off as best we can, enjoying getting lost and found. Immediately I see the wisdom of all the ladies who arm themselves against the oppressive heat on the bus with a little paper fan, and buy a few at the first opportunity. The boys and I make good use of them. Larry refuses, preferring to suffer like the Italian men he sees who would probably rather throw themselves under the bus than be seen with a fan. Some things are universal.

Food, Glorious Food Such a problem—temporarily living down the street from the Campo dei Fiori market, and the surrounding wonderful cheese shops, pastry shops, bakeries, alimentari. Feeling the pull of the restaurants as we consider cooking in the heat. We compromise, opting to shop and unwrap rather than cook. This is supposed to be a vacation. Meals of bread, salad mix, tomatoes, cheese and salumi for the boys some nights when Larry and I go to a restaurant a few steps away for an adult meal. The boys are entranced by Italian television, and feel very comfortable in the apartment with another cell phone and us down the street. And taking the boys for pizza dinners on two evenings was more fun for everyone than if it had been a nightly stretch into the late Italian dinnertime.

Many delicious meals are enjoyed, usually in simple trattorias. Larry and I splurge one night at Al Bric. A memorable meal. We buy sweet peaches, cherries, and apricots for snacksfrom our favorite vendor at the market—the cheerful woman in the middle, before the spice dealer’s stall. In the mornings, we line up at the forno at the corner of the Campo and via dei Capellari for sweet rolls and bread for breakfast. Pizza al Taglio on the other corner of the Campo supplies excellent slices for snacking. The boys could eat their way around the Campo, getting slipped free cookies at the bakery, nibbles of mozzerella at the Latteria Cooperative on . We get nabbed by the Spice Guy to look through his book of newspaper clippings about his stand of creative herb and spice blends. We smile, buy as small a handful as he will allow, and escape.

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