A Trip to Rome
Excerpts from a Family Diary
August 2011 Saturday: 4:15 am, taxi arrived. Juan in a panic because had planned to get up at 3:30 but hadn’t.
At Gatwick airport, saw a young child with a bottle. James informed me this is very bad and the child clearly has attachment issues. He knows this because he watches ‘Super Nanny’. (Do all teenaged boys watch that??)
In security check we got sent to a faster line. Mike remarked that they obviously weren’t checking properly. Luckily no one heard.
Nice breakfast at EAT. Juan gave economics lecture over strength of Euro. James announced he had promised to text his girlfriend every day but had no phone credit.
Good flight, taxi to Hotel Genio (booked through Citalia.) Quite small but a good position.
Pizza/pasta lunch. Walked around.
Hotel is right next to Piazza de Nevona, which is a totally brilliant square with fountains, artists, etc. Saw an old man pretending to sing opera while miming to a hidden CD. Very funny. Gave him some money just because he made me laugh.
Had a quick look at some Roman stuff. Quite warm.
Dinner at brilliant restaurant, very rustic. (Old Bear, Via dei Gigli d’Oro 3) Had a litre of sangria. Played cards while waiting for meal to arrive. Extremely sleepy. Nice dinner. David and Mike ate loads of bread so they were happy. James spilt drinks. Twice.
Sunday: Up early. Lovely breakfast on roof terrace, looking across Rome. I had pineapple juice (which I hate) and warm milk (which I hate.) Need to learn some Italian.
Walked across a bridge and along river. Beautiful. Read guide book and tried to plan rest of week (Tues vatican, Wed colossium, breakfast at 7……we’ll see.)
Walked to St Peter’s Square. Watched the Pope on a big screen. He gave benediction in lots of languages (quite impressive.) It was hot but sort of nice. Saw that square was built over original Roman race track, which is where they crucified St Peter. That felt strangely significant.
Found a restaurant. We waited there with drinks while David ran back to hotel to collect Juan (who had declined Pope trip.) Nice lunch.
Back to hotel. Nap.Boys in our room while their air con is fixed.
Tea on roof terrace. Boys collected Subway and we bought drinks and fruit from a Spar. Mike threw a grape and hit a pigeon.
Walked to Spanish Steps. Very pretty but crowded. James took photos of his feet. (Why?)
Went back to square. Nice music, lights, stalls.
James rescued a little girl’s toy from a building works (she was just standing there crying.) Then there were flashing lights and sirens and the police arrived. David told James he was going to be arrested (they did check where he’d been, so maybe he triggered an alarm.)
Back to hotel. We went to bed. Becky and Mike went to a bar. Probably be kidnapped.
Monday: Up at 7:00. Met James, Juan and Mike for breakfast. Walked to Garibaldi statue but didn’t find it. Ended up in a botanical garden. Was deserted and very run down. Highlight was giant bamboo and some ducks crossing the road.
Wrote postcards. Subway lunch.
Went to ‘Time Machine’, a historical cinema. But they’d had a power cut.
Walked to Trevi fountain. Very crowded. Amazing little church behind it, full of angels, paintings, gilt, candles.
Ice cream in Navonna Square. Wandered around.
Dinner: Tried to go back to same restaurant but it was shut. Walked up a street of cafes, each one had people outside trying to entice you in. One woman said they had a special deal – starter, pasta or pizza plus a drink for 11 euros. Went inside. When we came to order, she said that deal was only for lunch times. When I ordered a glass of red wine, she said the wine in the menu wasn’t very nice, she would open a special bottle for me. Suspected price was going to spiral upwards. We left.
Ate in a friendly but hot cafe in same street. Portions were quite small for the boys, but nice food. David drank shots while paying.
Walked around. Rome very romantic at night. Bought David a hat and the boys some silk ties.
Tues: All awake for 8am breakfast so could get an early start for vatican. Long queues. People pushing in, so boys made a long line and blocked them (embarrassing but effective.)
St Peter’s church felt more like a museum than a church. Too many tourists taking photos. No music. No candles.
Couldn’t get into Sistene chapel because need to pre book for mornings. Boys didn’t climb tower due to very long queues.
Pizza for lunch.
Went to Sistene Chapel. Extremely long line of hot people shuffling through narrow corridors. Some amazing art en route but rather tempered by need for fresh air and water. Chapel itself was smaller than expected. Brilliant art but did feel very like cattle herded into a pen. Escaped after about an hour.
Kids drank from a fountain in a random square. Will probably die.
Ate at Hard Rock Cafe. Fun. Also cheaper than most places in Rome!
When Mike realised drink refills were free, he drank loads. Eventually waitress dumped two jugs on the table and disappeared (to weep.)
Wed: Breakfast 8am, then taxi to colossium. Managed to avoid massive queues by David going to info desk and then paying for an audio tour, which then allows you to walk straight in without buying a separate entrance ticket.
Outside, there were men dressed as gladiators. They persuaded people to have their photo taken with them, then charged them 5 euros EACH! Some people were cross and argued, but most people just paid. Lucrative scam.
Colossium interesting. It’s less preserved/restored than the one in Verona but could see underneath the chambers. Could imagine all the terrible and wonderful things that had happened there.
MacDonalds lunch. Ice creams and cards on the roof.
Thus: 10am, walked to Piazza del Popolo with Becky, Mike and James. Saw two matching churches.
Had coffee and milkshakes in a bakery.
Rose seller offered a rose to Becky.
Saw Augustus’ tomb, all fenced off.
Passed a cool fountain that was a wall of water.
Subway lunch on roof. The boys were given a free one because they have been such good customers!
Went to ‘Time Machine’. It’s a 5D cinema. Was very Italian – a really good idea, nice to look at, but it doesn’t quite work. Whole cinema had to stop because someone felt travel sick.
Walked to Hard Rock Cafe. Got same grumpy waitress as last time. I ordered a salad, which was disappointing because the boiled egg had obviously been cut up a while ago and was very dry. The chicken had pink bits. Then I realised that the lettuce was dirty and had bugs in it. Showed David (fly was still crawling.) He checked his salad and found a caterpillar. Didn’t seem to deter boys from eating.
Manager arrived and apologised, offered me a free dessert. I only wanted a coffee. This then was dumped in front of me by grumpy waitress in a very chipped cup! The bill arrived, minus my food and 25% off rest. David asked for his food to be removed too (he carried the caterpillar to the desk to ask!)
Pleasant walk back to hotel.
Fri: David and I walked to Garibaldi statue – we found it this time. Good views.
Pizza lunch next to Pantheon. Looked round.
Ice cream in ‘our’ square.
Dinner at Old Bear again. Another good meal.
Sat: Taxi to airport.
Please note:Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the people concerned. Actually, only one name has been changed (absolutely no idea why.)