So my original vision for our daily schedule in Rome — informed by conversations with friends who recently traveled to Europe with kids – was that we would stay up late to enjoy late dinners al fresco, and then sleep in until 10am. Sadly, that is just not the schedule that this family runs on! Despite going to bed at 11pm that first night (exhausted), Noah and the girls were up at 4am and never went back to sleep. As a result, that night we barely made it through dinner; Cassidy was falling asleep at the table by 8pm. The next morning the girls were awake around 5, and on Day 2 Sierra fell asleep on our taxi ride both to and from the Coliseum. She was completely exhausted, and once again both girls barely made it to 9pm!
In the end, this schedule ended up working well for us in Rome, as it allowed us to get some sightseeing in quite early, then come back for a break during the heat of the day. This was particularly helpful on Tuesday morning, as we walked out the door before 7am and arrived at St. Peter’s Basilica by 7:15. I loved being out early before the crowds, when there is still a cool breeze and nice light for photos.
We were all blown away by St. Peter’s Basilica – the girls jaws dropped as we walked in the door and craned our necks to take in the incredible ceiling.
As usual, the art in the Basilica sparked tons of religious questions that Noah and I were ill-equipped to answer. [Note to self: need to procure children’s bible for this family of heathens.] They wanted to know how old Jesus was when he died, where he was buried, and whether Mary was there when he died. They wanted to know who chooses the Pope, if the Pope is the President of the Vatican, and if someone ever attacked the Vatican, would Italy defend it?
After walking through the Basilica, we climbed the 551 stairs to the top of the dome. The most amazing part was when you walk out into the nave (interior of the dome), about halfway up. It was incredible to look down on St. Peter’s from above, and especially to have a close—up view of the mosaic art on the walls, which I had not even realized was all mosaic when viewed from below. It is absolutely crazy to imagine the amount of labor – and logistics! – that went into it.
I was super impressed by the girls charging up all those stairs; they were the only kids up there and were passing various groups of adults who were breathing hard and sweating!
After St. Peter’s we wimped out and took a taxi back to our apartment, where we had some nice down time and ate leftover pizza from the night before. We prepared ourselves for our afternoon tour of the Coliseum, which I knew was going to be a challenge, as our pre-booked tour had assigned us the unfortunate entry time of 3pm. Ugh. We procured a spray bottle to fill with water, along with some gummy candy; these ended up being absolutely critical provisions.
The tour started with the Roman Forum, and our tour guide Fabio proved to be both extremely knowledgeable and extremely long-winded. He was seemingly indefatigable despite the blazing sun and withering tour group. The girls, quite understandably, quickly gave up on listening and focused instead on trying to find small patches of shade to crouch in while they waited for Fabio to move along to the next site. Cassidy and Sierra were the only young kids on the tour, and the commentary was definitely geared to an adult audience. Bummer.
After the Forum we finally made it to the Coliseum, which was pretty fascinating, especially the “VIP Underground Access” where we got to see where the animals were kept and winched up to the stadium with pulleys through trap doors in the floor. Apparently they had animals from all over the world, lions, tigers, elephants, even ostriches!
That evening we were supposed to have dinner at a restaurant in Trastevere recommended by Jill, but after Sierra fell asleep in the taxi and asked to go to bed at 6pm, we decided to abort and go for an early dinner closer to our apartment. It worked out OK, but boy was I bummed to miss Roma Sparita. Should I start giving the girls coffee? Or Red Bull?!
The photo below shows the requisite gelato stop after dinner!