13 November 2009

Rome - Day 1 - You gotta be kidding me.

Ah... Rome! On our first day in Rome we left our apartment near the Colosseum early in the morning, as we knew it was going to be a long day. The title of this post is, "You gotta be kidding me" because that is how we felt walking around this amazing city. Rome is practically cluttered with one ruin or landmark after another. Often times the ruins are built right into another landmark, which is stacked on top of another ruin. A lot of history!

There are also Gladiators in front of every major landmark who ask to take a picture with you and then request 5euro (7 US dollars!). We always said no, except for this guy (we nicknamed him Guido) just walked right into Karen's picture. Elora was really excited and Karen got into the act too. I stiffed him and gave him only 1 Euro, which he finally agreed was a good price after I laughed loudly in his face when he requested 5.

More "you gotta be kidding me-ness". Ancient 2000 year old columns... check. Towering 1900 year old column commemorating emperor Trajan... check. Huge church? Check. Smaller, but still large church next to the huge church? Also check...

Elora and Ollie were thrilled to look at everything, but I think Ollie was just as excited to jump in mud puddles and Elora was just as happy to pick dandilions. We could have done that back in Vienna!

Here's the Arco Di Constantino, in front of the Colosseum. The arch is "only" 1700 years old, and is the "newest" of the victory-commoration arches in the city. Chris is peeling an orange for the kids who got grumpy everytime we stuck them in the stroller with no food.

We walked around a lot on the first day. In retrospect we could have done Day 1 better, but it was nice to get our bearings. We figured we walked between 10-15 miles each day...

Part of the ruins you see here are the Roman Forum, part of the Palatine Hill (the settlement where Rome was founded), as well as the white tomb of the unknown soldier in the background.

Oliver is so cute in this picture. The kids were both sitting next to each other, when Ollie grabbed Elora's dirty Teddy, and she promptly moved to the otherside of Karen. Maybe Ollie's thinking... "Mission accomplished!" He does look pretty pleased with himself. We think he has figured out that it's easy to toy with Elora.

We finally stopped for a late lunch, after we realized Rome was like Barcelona and if we didn't eat soon there'd be no eating until 7pm! Ollie was happy to read the guide book while we waited for the pasta.

Elora was excited! This place was good because it had homemade pasta. When we tried to order the pasta for Elora the waiter asked us if we wanted marinara sauce. We said yes, then realized Elora likes meat in her sauce and that marinara is just plain tomato sauce. When we asked the waiter for a "meat sauce" instead, she was completely confused -- having never encountered the word "meat sauce" apparently. For some strange reason, repeating the words meat and sauce slowly did not help. When she suddenly replied, "Ah! A Ragu!" If only the Romans knew that the word Ragu is a scourge to be avoided at all costs in America thanks to that evil, foul jarred stuff that passes for "meat sauce". Fortunately, this Ragu tasted nothing like the pre-packaged stuff.

While on a quest to find a wireless internet card for Chris to use for work, we came across the basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, which was a good find. It was originally built in the 400s, but rebuilt in the 1200s. Fun fact... it snowed in August of 352AD in this location, and the Pope traced the perimeter of the first church on this site. There's a joke somewhere in there about a cold day in hell...Or maybe this is where the saying came from 1600 years ago!

Inside the Santa Maria...

The paintings inside the domes of the many basilicas in Rome, surrounded by gold leafed molding invoke another "you gotta be kidding me" response.

More photos of the amazing interior.

The basilicas in Rome are similar, but also very different from the cathedrals in Vienna. There are a lot more Roman columns (huh, funny) and are much larger.

This was another basilica we went in, which looked very ruinous on the outside. We weren't expecting too much inside.

But the inside was also very grand, and decorated with colored marble.

This is not so much a "you gotta be kidding me moment" but a "what kinda church is this" moment. Karen really liked this statue, but we noticed afterwards looking at the picture there is a lovely painting in the background of a man getting his head chopped off with the guy behind him being impaled in the heart with a spear.

As the day was ending, we headed back to the apartment and Elora posed in front of this column for us.

One last visit... just one more... Karen told Elora to go sit on the stairs, and she started hiking way up them. See if you can find her.
The Monument to Vittorio, is a monument to the first king of the united Italy, which "celebrates the splendor of the nation after the unification of Italy." It is also the tomb of the unknown soldier. We thought it looked pretty cool.

By now, we were noticing a theme with Rome. Every emperor, king, pope, seemed to leave their mark with bigger and cooler looking monuments. It's nice of them to think about us tourists a thousand years in the future... It also made us wonder, what are we doing now for the tourists 1000 years from now?

Why, building really shnazzy McDonalds of course! Isn't this the sweetest looking McDonalds you've ever seen? We didn't go in because we figured they had a dress code... In Rome there are so many cool buildings they don't think twice about dumping a fast food chain or random Best Western into old historical buildings.

Elora had a great time, even though we had more than a few temper tantrums that day.

Elora was very excited to give the living statues money. I told her we couldn't give them all money because then we wouldn't be able to buy food. She replied, "But you can just give them one money" (meaning one coin). She's a cutie.

While shopping at the grocery store we saw this awesome looking dessert cake. It was huge and weighed 2lbs. What's not to like?

It came with a little bag of vanilla sugar for you to shake all over the cake. It was quite tasty, but really just more fun to buy a huge cake in a box™.


  1. So did you take a series of trains to Rome from VIE, or an airline flight? If train, how long was the journey?

  2. We flew to Rome, which takes about an hour and a half as opposed to 12-14 hours on the train!


Comments are appreciated. I love getting comments!