Winter exile – part 6 – Roma

TLDR – Walking around Rome Exploring for three days. Sory I went long, should have made this a few posts.

The full Batch of trip reports

Shopping for food

Last night none of the larger shops were open for food shopping. Kids like to eat from what I’m told and it is difficult to eat without food. To obtain food we went out in the morning around 0830. We passed by a Simple grocery shop on the way to a Carrefour we were after. We did not find the Carrefour but we did find antiques under easy up tents setup flea market style around a large fountain called the Fontana in Piazza dei Quiriti. We ended up shopping at the Simple market we already passed on the way back to our flat. Boy howdy was it tiny. With a stroller and backpack on, and four kids it was difficult to fit down any isle let alone have space to shop. Talk about stressful shopping.

Fountain in the middle of flea market area

We forgot some blue Fanta at the check out stand in the chaos trying bag things up and get out the place. We noticed the missing Fanta about 5 blocks away. Maddex Mila and I walked back and got it. They had already put it away but we found the person who had put it away and they recognized us gave us the Fanta; saving the day for the kids. Nice since we already paid for it. We made it home, unloaded the food then took off again to explore Rome – Yippie!!

Exploring to the Right

Left our place and went right out the front door towards the Castle Saint Angelo and the river.. I’m always impressed with Stone lined rivers, but this one really impresses with it’s deep stone walls on both sides. To me it looks like 50 foot high walls of stones on both sides of the river with a walking path at water level at the bottom. We walked north along the river passing a few bridges until we decided to turn right and cross over the river. We walked towards the spanish steps, had no clue that’s what we were walking towards, but turned out where were walking later. We turned before we made it to the steps because we saw some tall stone thing in the distance on a mostly no car street that looked interesting.

We are staying near the Vatican, one of the first thing we see is the Basilica
Turning around from the picture above we see a castle

Along the way we stopped to look at someone juggling a clear plastic ball that looked like it was floating. There is a name for what he was doing, but I don’t know what it is, and too lazy to look it up. Behind him was a big church looking building with an open door. Ok lets walk in. We walked into the Basilica S. Giacomo which is a massive spectacular looking church; WOW. The kids were great being quite and moving slowly walking around the mega church taking it in.

Hard to capture how amazing some of these churches are
Nativity in the mega church we toured

When we left we kept on going for the tall spikey thing. The spike turned out to be the Obolisco Flaminio in the Piazza del Popolo in front of the Leonardo De Vinci museum. Massive open square filled with people. We watched some older couple surrounded by a crowd dance for a bit. Next the kids played in some bubbles being blown by a guy with a mega bubble blower. There were lots of people who saw us as dollar signs trying to sell things. Some of the people selling things start off giving you things…

Mega bubble guy in the square with the pointy thing
View into the square from above

Someone gave the kids some little wing up wing flapping flying things. Michelle said we did not want them. The guy said Free. The kids took them and played, we said thanks and kept walking. The guy then followed us for a bit and showed the kids how to use them, working to guilt us into giving him money. I had nothing smaller than a 50, so he did not get anything. Might have been good with the kids having the birds, then no one else tried to sell them to us, or it might have been bad. Maybe they saw us as suckers who would buy things.

Mila near the entrance to the park we walked in
This pond looks to be missing water

We quickly crossed a major street to escape the bird man then turned right again towards some big arc looking things guarding the sides of an entrance to an area with lots of trees. Looking at the map it appears to be a massive park. We like parks, Sometimes they have play grounds,  so we go for a walk. We passed a huge empty pond fountain thing with a running fountain in the middle and almost no water. Then up some stairs to a bust garden filled with marble heads. Eventually we made it to a great spot  overlooking the city, and another place overlooking the plaza we with the Obelisco we were just in. What an amazing view, so many amazing buildings in every direction. Michelle and I want to walk to all of them !!

Bust garden
Maddex in front of Di Vinci
Another view of the bust garden
View of the city from the edge of the park

Headed Back to our Flat

By now the kids are showing signs of needing a break and some food so we started heading back towards our flat. We took a different no car road back towards the bridge crossed over this morning. Eventually we shoved our way through all of the people and made it to a large square with some steps in it. I wonder of these are the Spanish steps. Checking my phone, yup Spanish steps. Too bad all of those people are here or we might give it a go. Maybe we will come back another time and check them out. We turned away from the steps and started waking back towards home.

Spanish steps

On the walk home we went into to grocery stores an came out with; popcorn, salami, and apples. We proceeded to eat everything on the walk home. In front of one shop we stopped at for more we sucked exhaust for a few minutes watching Santa’s and choppers ride by. The guy at the shop said they do this every year. They are headed to the Vatican to say hi to papa. Right behind our flat we popped into a tiny pizza shop and came away with 2 pizzas, and some lasagna for lunch. The kids ate almost all of it. The pizzas had some super thin cut pickle on them no one really cared for. We pulled those off and ate the rest of the pizza.

Santas on Motorcycles
Towards our flat as we cross over a bridge headed home
Pizza and lasagna

The kids took a good half hour to stop fighting and screaming before they finally were quite enough for Michelle and I check on the submarine races. After the races Mila shoved the door open pushing the table and chairs over blocking the door and said “I just want to go get some Gelato” Guess we better all get ready and head back out. I mean we’ve only walked 20,000 steps so far today and we think we found a play area in the park around the castle next to us. If we can just figure out how to get into the park.

Off to find a playground

It looks like the park around the castle is closed for the duration. Gate closed, trees on the ground, looks run down, park benches appear to be in disrepair and grown over, and small piles of trash. Bummer, because the play park is super close and it looks like it was nice from pictures we found online. The next nearest play ground we can found is about 20 minutes away at best. We miss Spain for the play grounds.

We were able to get into the moat like area around the park around the castle. It too was run down and not well-kept. Maddex and I walked along the path for a bit than exited up some stairs. After our failed park attempt we walked the no car street behind our house. We were going to get some ice cream for the kids but the line was long and the kids were restless. We went back home for some snacks, showers, a show and bed time.

Trying to find a way into the park via the moat
Maddex in the over grown moat

Roxi and Mila were fighting sleep hard. Roxi was keeping Khaleesi up, and Mila kept coming out saying she was not able to fall sleep. An hour or so after we put the kids to bed they were all finally out and mom and I could relax a bit to some Parks and Rec. I passed out shortly afterwards around 2200 and Michelle stayed up for a few more hours travel shopping watching friends.

Last picture of the night before heading in – the street behind our flat
Kids and Michelle watching a show before we tuck them into bed

Monday – Walking to the Vatican

We are staying next to the Vatican. Our first stop today was to walk to the square and see about going into the church. The road behind our house leads up to the vatican citizen entrance where were told to go this way for the museum tour by someone trying to sell us a tour. Rome is first city on our exile trip where we’ve had the walking dollar signs feeling as we are walking by venders selling the same trinkets.

I said a few times no tour we Just want the square. Eventually he gave up and pointed the direction of the square and we parted ways. When we made it to the square we were assaulted by another guy trying to turn us around to take a tour he could sell us. I asked if the square was open and he said something about only untill two but you can take a tour. I said in a much harsher tone “is the square open now and can we go in” he said yes and we started walking past him in the direction we wanted to go.

The square, the xmas tree, the church, the columns along the square, everything is on a grand massive scale. Everything is also well cared for and preserved / updated. You can tell the stones have all been washed recently and they are washed on a regular basis. They are setting up for an Xmas blessing tomorrow on Christmas day by the pope. Chairs and temp walls are all over. The line to tour the church is more than we are willing invest in today. We will come back later in the week earlier and skip most of the line. Oh shiny object, there is a large sand sculpture nativity thing in the middle of the Square we should look at. Michelle posted a picture of the sand to Facebook and Aunt Theresa said she watched it being built on the TV.

Family in front of the mega extreme massive church
impressive sand sculpture and Khaleesi
Big Xmas tree!

After parting the square we walked back to our flat to check laundry. Instead of going up we decided to go shopping again. Tomorrow is xmas and we plan on nothing being open. Michelle waited in front of the shop this time with the girls while Maddex and I went shopping. Worked much better then all four kids, a backpack and a stroller in a tiny narrow shop. Back at home we played, had second breakfast and waited for the laundry to finish. The washer here has to be manually set to spin and dry for some reason.

Maddex working on his story at the desk I setup
The girls working in the doll house salt mines – They turned the shelves into a doll house

Trevi Fountain – and Stuff

Messing with the laundry machine took a while we did not set out on todays adventure until about 1100. We crossed a bridge walked a bit towards Trevi. Along the way we saw some narrow pain in the butt for cars to drive on roads we took thinking it would be simpler to walking on sidewalks. At one point the roads opened up to a large open area that turned out to be the Piazza Navona which is supposed to have a large xmas market (Michelle reads the next day) We walked around the square, explored a domed church and then set of towards the fountain.

Laundry drying setup with a fan to cut down on dry time
Fountain in the middle of the square

Next door to the Piazza we ran into the rear of the Pantheon. We walked around the front and right in the front door. I knew it was open to the rain, but never thought about drains. The two drainage holes in the middle are tiny. Like maybe the size of a soda can. Michelle says “I thought it would be bigger” –  Sigh – biggest free-standing concrete dome, bla bla, massive, old, bla bla. I might love old roman buildings. We could see the crowd for Trevi before we could see Trevi, sigh.

I thought it would be bigger – that’s what she said
Looking up at the hole in the ceiling
The front of the pantheon

The kids and I crawled down towards the water for some pictures and coin tossing, then we took off to get away from the sea of people. Maddex found a coin on the ground he tossed over his shoulder into the fountain. He made a wish “to be able to go back home to Ireland” – big deep parent sigh. The fountain is massive and gorgeous, must have been the emotions of seeing it that got to me. I’m sure it had nothing to do with A. Maddex calling Ireland home, and B. him wanting to end exile and go back home. Maddex built Trevi fountain in Lego. He and I have been excited to see it since then.

Maddex back in the lab in Olalla with his lego Trevi
Maddex in front of the real thing
So many people so hard to get great pictures

Lunch in a Park – then home

We looped around the fountain area a few times trying to find a Flying tiger to purchase some shampoo and maybe small kids Xmas gifts. Eventually we gave up on apple maps and used Google maps. Thanks Apple, Google lead us right to the shop on the other side of the street around the corner the other direction. Ended up with nothing. But we did walk by a pizza place in our looping we went back to for some lunch. While I was waiting on the food Michelle found us a kids park. The park was on the other side of a tunnel.

Tunnel under some palace to the park we wanted to visit
Finally a kids park!

Great another tunnel to run through. Thankfully this one had a sidewalk. We walked through screaming and yelling the whole way playing with the Echo. At the end of the tunnel we walked up about 40 steps, turned left and eventually found a real live kids playground to play at for a while and eat lunch. Park was mostly empty of people. Perfect opportunity for Maddex and I to pee on some bushes.

After the park we walked back home along a different route that took us through a mall, and around the Marcus Aurelius column. Along the bridge headed home we let the kids pick up some souvenirs we later wrapped up for them in socks for xmas. Have to keep it small, but the kids need something. Back at home I feed the kids while Michelle took off to get them something else for Xmas. She did not find anything in the right price range or size so souvenirs is all they get.

Xmas things in a mall
Mila was so excited to give this guy some money and take a picture

When Michelle returned I went out with Maddex to get more food. We are not sure what will be home on Xmas of Saint Stephens day and want to be sure we can eat. While we were out we picked up some candy and Kinder eggs to add to the Xmas socks.

Michelle packing one of the kids socks
Christmas stockings using real socks under the best we could come up with for a tree

Christmas Morning Exploration

The kids were all up by 0530. Michelle was up around 0620 and we let the kids unwrap their socks and started in on breakfast. By 0700 they were so loud of out of control I said fuck it, we got dressed, and set off on a day of Exploring more of Rome; destination, the Colosseum. Along the way we walked by the Piazza Navona again, and look NO ONE IS IN IT. Maddex and Michelle say “We should go see Trevi again with no one there

The front of the Pantheon with out people – YEAH!! we own this town

It’s hard to turn down this idea, so off we go. Yesterday it took us a few hours to make the fountain. Today it took about 15 minutes. We moved much quicker with out all of the shiny object distractions we had yesterday. We reached the fountain by a few past 0800 and the crowd was starting to grow; Sad face. Still no where near the number of people as yesterday which is better with us. We managed to get next to the fountain with plenty of room to take pictures.

Most of the fam in front of the fountain
The rest of the Fam in front of the fountain
Pano of the fountain

Next stop from the fountain was motived by a big xmas tree we saw on the walk to the fountain. The tree happened to be in front of some massive monument, the Vittoriano built-in the 1900’s in honor of the first king to unify italy in the form it is today. Around the Vittoriano are all of the forum ruins behind which when the sun is not blinding us we can see the Colosseum. We checked out all of the ruins as best as we could from up above and slowly made way to the Colosseum.

Massive monument thing
Baby in front on big hill filled with ruins
The Colosseum and the family 

Walking around the Forum and Colosseum

We walked around the Colosseum that was nicely lacking in hordes or people taking it all in. Such a massive old structure. When we made it around the Colosseum Michelle started looking at her phone looking for a playground. There is a park behind the Colosseum and behind that park is another park with a play area. We set off to find it. On the way we found a run down over grown play park to play in for a few minutes before we go on the real play ground

Sad looking playground
Circus Maximus big huge horse track now a park

When we made it to the gate for the park we found it chained shut; Sad face. We started heading back another route and saw a big green area. Looking it up on the map we are at the Circus Massimo. I’ve always wanted to see this so we started crossing a 10 lane road to get there. After we crossed we noticed a large crew of runners running behind a pace car playing Xmas music. Must be a Christmas fun run or something.

We walked to length of the Massmio course on the gravel then headed towards the water past the temple of Hercules. We crossed over the river at the Island Tiberina hoping we can get off the bridge and explore the island. We were not able to find the way off to explore. We carried on over the river, and took the stairs down to the walk at the river’s edge.

Temple of Hercules
Island we wanted to walk around
Walking next to the river

Headed Home for lunch along the river

We walked home along the river walk on the slanted walk way trying to keep the stroller from slowly moving towards the water. Was a nice walk we shared the random bike or jogger and no tourists Other then one guy I chatted with. I noticed some large art on the side wall that looked to be created by removing the slime on the wall.  I saw a local taking pictures of the wall art and asked about it. He told me the mural was by a south african named William Kentridge.

Pony art created by cleaning the wall
Kids and Michelle for size comparison

As we started walking on our street to our flat we noticed a parade coming down the road. We stopped for a few minutes and watched a military procession coming down the street towards the vatican. We figure it must be part of his Christmas address to happen in about thirty minutes at noon. After they passed we went inside to eat. Michelle went back out to watch the Pope give his talk and I stayed in feed and hang out with the kids.

Parade coming down the road
The three white things in the middle widow, the middle one is the pope – Michelle’s view of his talk

Out walking after our siesta time Roxi was having a bad time walking. She kept breaking down crying and whining in the stroller. After we left her a few times on the sie of the road to calm down she finally asked for something. She asked to be to move to the backpack. After about five minutes of being quite in the backpack Roxi says “Roxi is happy now“. I asked her what she just said and she said “I am happy now” guess all she wanted was to be in the backpack. – She can be cute sometimes.

Our walk eventually lead us back to the Vatican square where we finally bought the kids way over priced gelato to make them stop asking for it. The view of the square light up at night was nice. After our walk we had some food, colored, watched a show followed by bed time. We put Mila on the flood and Roxi in with Maddex on the bottom bunk to make it hard for all of the kids to keep each other up – They were all out five minutes after lights out; WINNING!

Happy family with Gelato
Big Church and square at night

Quotes from Mila

Mila trying to say Colosseum makes sounds like — Collar-ze-um / color-see-um / caller-ze-um.

Mila trying to say gelato makes a sound like — En-ga-lodo

Some more pictures – If the ones above were not enough

Looking down the river on our first bridge crossing
Parking spot sized fuel station
I said “Don’t stand under it, it might fall on you” – they all ran over to stand under it
We found our way On top of the arches for the view
Nice view and smooch on top of those Arches
Oh look a pointy thing we should walk to check out


No clue what this is, but it has hard spikes. Maddex keeps putting in my hand while we are holding hands then has me squeeze untill he says mercy. 
The drain holes in the Pantheon
Michelle is all “this thing is amazing”
Maddex photo bombing
Cool looking arches lets walk under those


What is this massive monument thing



So many great ruins to look at
And such a great gal to look at them with


Baby thnks for taking me here for Christmas morning
Kids we are almost there


Closed today – no tour of the inside
Lets walk all the way around this thing
Maddex climbing on a fence
Drinking from an old water thing
worming through some bike rack
Another cool water thing

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