Note: This is part of an ongoing series of diary entries and photos from our trip to Italy this fall. You can see all the journal entries here
September 15, 2008: Roma
As I'm writing this, the bells of all the churches in our area of town are ringing. We have our windows open and it's pleasantly warm with a breeze. The trip over was insane, with the flight across the U.S., then the flight to Roma, customs & immigration was fortunately a snap, but then we had to figure out how to get us and all of our bags into the city. While we were deliberating the merits of trains, busses, and cabs, the kids literally fell asleep on the table of a cafe in the airport. We finally decided to check our big luggage (containing the bikes) at the airport's bag check and leave them there for the week. Then we just took a train into town and a cab ride to our apartment.
When we got there, turned out onto the street with our luggage, the person we were supposed to meet was nowhere to be seen. My first opportunity to try out my Italian, as I managed to find out who I needed to contact from someone else who lives in the building and we met the apartment owners and they showed us the place. I'm immediately glad I took the time to learn some of the language as the apartment owner spoke about as much English as I do Italian. Between the two of us, we managed to figure out enough words to communicate everything just fine though. It's absolutely perfect, with a nice little kitchen and three beds. Mackenzie managed to lock himself in the bathroom and it took awhile to figure out how to flush the toilet (inconspicuous button, high up on the wall), but it's all great.
The kids took a nap, but we were afraid to let them totally go to sleep for very long, being as then they'd be up all night. So we got them up and tried to get them moving again. It's not easy! With Asa's permission, I post this photo of "the face of jet lag". However, by the time we'd gotten out the door and walked to some fountains, all was well and she was skipping all over the place, her usually spright-like self again. Note: when combating incipient jet lag in children, a little gelato goes a long way!
Today we walked down to Piazza Navona with its three great fountains (unfortunately the Fontana di Quattro Fiumi, or fountain of the four rivers is under construction and was turned off) and ate gelato on the piazza. Mackenzie especially liked the fountain with Poseidon (of course, he is in heaven in this city of reverence for the ancient myths!), then strolled to the Area Sacra dell'Argentina, some of the oldest Roman ruins in the city. Four temples were discovered here in the 1920's, the oldest dating from the 3rd century B.C. The block containing the temples is also a cat sanctuary, run on donations. The Roman ruins here are literally covered in cats, and the kids took a lot of photos of them. Here's one of mine:
So far we've been amazed by the trafficin this city, especially the bold scooter drivers who all weave through the cars to amass at the front of each stoplight, then zoom off in a big pack at the changing of the light. Lanes, crosswalks, lights, etc. seem to be more fluidly interpreted here than in the U.S. but it all flows along in a kind of organized chaos.
Walking back to the apartment, we came upon this enormous and ancient building with incredible archwork in the bricks supporting the massive structure. From the back of it, I wasn't quite sure what it was but as we got around the front we discovered it was the Pantheon. I had no idea we were so close, but it's about a block from our apartment. I'm glad we discovered it this way, kind of sneaking up on it from behind, marveling at the structure before even knowing what it was. I can't wait to go inside.
And now another treat, a thunderstorm and torrential downpour on the little piazza beneath our window. My laundry (hanging outside the bathroom window on a rack) got not only soaked but filthy from water pouring off of dirty awnings on the floors above. Washing time again, I guess. The lightning has been crackling almost above our heads with the closest thunder coming just a second away. Very impressive weather, and we're having fun watching the scurrying pedestrians with umbrellas below.