We are back from a week-long trip to Italy with my parents, and because we are all getting old I’ve been asked to write a brief synopsis of what we did and what happened. (For a full set of alllll the pictures you could ever want to see, go here).
SAT, DAY 1: Airports Are Awesome!
Just kidding; international air travel sucks. Especially with two kids. Especially when one of them is Poppy.
But after only one airport Amber Alert (when the hellions made a break for it on a toothbrush run with their father), 14 feather pillows (I think the carry-on size really limited my mother’s ability to bring as many as she wanted, thus the smaller-than-usual number), and 65 games of Eye Spy, we arrived in Rome.
SAT, NIGHT 1: Roman Food is Awesome!
This time I’m not kidding. We ate a ton of fabulous food at a great restaurant that we almost didn’t go to because it was empty at 7 PM. Rookie mistake: it was packed by 9 PM.
We intended to be “those” people and take pictures of our food everywhere we went and send them to my brother. Because, obviously, what could a super cool 27 year old dude want more than pictures of our cacio pepe?
Unfortunately we ended up spending most meals trying to keep the children from killing each other so these are the only shots you’re going to get. And by “children” I mean my parents. JUST KIDDING. It was me and S. Again with the kidding! Usually it was actually William and Penelope trying to murder each other with cutlery.
SUN, DAY 2: Meet Me at the Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps
The guys all said this was their favorite day. There is something incredibly mind-blowing about being surrounded by this incredible history. At one point there was a street band playing vaguely Italian-esque music on sitars (maybe? I could be making that instrument up) and it was such a lovely, memorable moment.
After that, we had ice cream and pizza at the Trevi Fountain, and got to watch an insane man scare tourists.
After that, we headed to the Spanish Steps, where Poppy tried to run away and join each family she found.
I also tried to create a “Dove Si Trova Waldo” type of thing with everyone, which I thought would be a hugely creative memory of our time here:
SUN, NIGHT 2: Date Night
My parents stayed with the kids and we went to a lovely restaurant. Since married people dates are generally pretty boring I don’t have much else to say about it. But it was a really wonderful night!
MON, DAY 3: “Cribs”, Pope Francis Edition; Pristine Sistine; St. Petey’s
People I felt sorry for at the Sistine Chapel: (1) the security guard whose sole job seems to be shushing the crowd approximately every 45 seconds; (2) the woman in the neck brace.
People I didn’t feel sorry for: ME. This was one of my top 3 moments of the trip. It was breathtaking to be surrounded by such incredible, world-famous art. It felt a lot like the time Brooke and I saw Madame Butterfly at the Met Opera and I fell asleep – it was just magical to wake up and be in the middle of that opera.
Since I am a firm believer in the importance of instilling an appreciation for fine art at an early age, William and I had spent some time reading about the Sistine Chapel before our visit. And I was one proud mom when he exclaimed loudly once he found “God’s booty” and “that man who had his peenie bitten by a snake!“
The Vatican in general is really amazing. I truly felt the presence of a higher power there, particularly when I realized that the perfect souvenir would be a Roman bust that we could keep by the front door and use to hold our sunglasses. What an inspiring place.
MON, NIGHT 3: When the Moon Hits Your Eye
This was definitely one of my favorite memories from Rome. We ate outside at an old little restaurant and had oodles of wine while Poppy slept in her stroller. Heaven.
TUES, DAY 4: Travel Day
My husband and I took the morning to walk around the area around the Piazza Navrona before we picked up the car. We also committed perhaps the most serious cultural gaffe of our time in Italy. Apparently if you are using hand motions to explain which pastry you need to pay for, do NOT make a circle with your hands. I’m not quite sure what it means but, based on the amount of blushing and head shaking on the part of the Italian clerk, we pretty much propositioned him for a threesome.
Then we made the drive to Sant’Agnello. First of all, rest stops on the Autostrata are soooo much classier than the ones on the Turnpike. Not a *huge* bar, sure, but it was a nice surprise to find a nice little deli section with baguettes, cheese and meats.
After a long drive, we finally ended up in our new apartment, which was so much better than our one in Rome (of which we will not speak, except to say that it was so incredibly damp that I’m *pretty* sure there were mushrooms growing in the old car floormat that was being used to hide the rather large hole in the floor of one of the bathrooms). I’ve never been so happy to walk into what was essentially an Ikea showroom. The only downside was the fact that the orange curtains in my parents’ room made the entire room feel like the inside of a tanning bed. Like that episode of Seinfeld where a chicken store opens next to Kramer’s apartment but he can’t boycott it because the chicken is just that good.
That night, we found a little restaurant down the street that was pretty unremarkable, except for the fact that William said it was his worst night of the entire trip because I wouldn’t walk back to the car to get his plastic lion and therefore had doomed him to a night of unbearable boredom. Oh, and the Veal Marsala was really good.
WED, DAY 5: The Windiest Road in the World
We took a beach drive that ended up with my sweet husband white-knuckle driving down a two-lane road that really could barely accommodate one car, with a steep drop into the Mediterranean. Fun times for everyone!
But it ended in Amalfi, which was breathtaking. Everything about the day was simply perfect.
William found this to be the “craziest!” part of the trip, because there were bright green rocks in the “sand” (can you call a beach full of the largest, pokiest, most-painful-to-walk-upon rocks EVER “sandy”?). He and I spent about an hour picking out every one we could find. They were seriously beautiful, and I fully planned to take as many as we could, bring them back with us to London and sell them online. I was already planning our future as sea gem millionaires, when I was informed by my buzzkill husband that they were actually sea-worn pieces of broken beer bottles.
THURS, DAY 6: Pompeiiiiiii, Girl, Hey
On Thursday, we woke up early to make the drive to Pompeii, where we met a private guide to give us a tour of the ruins. This was top on my list of things I wanted to do in Italy, and it did not disappoint. It’s incredible that you can walk around an ancient town that still retains so many of the features it did when it was destroyed. There is a deep feeling of solemnity over the town, especially near the display of casts showing people who suffocated trying to run from the poisonous gases and whose dead bodies were frozen in place by the ash. Little less solemn in the brothel (booooy did those Pompeiians love some porn + phalluses), but still an unforgettable experience.
Oddly enough, the restaurant we went to in the parking lot outside of Pompeii wasn’t that great. Never could have seen that one coming.
THURS NIGHT: Dolchetto o Scherzetto!
That night was Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of all time. Unfortunately, we’ve had a bad run with William. Last year was Hurricane Sandy, so trick or treating was severely limited (I know, we suffered greatly, but we seem to have mostly recovered). The year before that I canceled Halloween because someone had a terrible tantrum, and I don’t really remember a lot of the years before that. We were determined to get it right this year, so I packed the costumes, we got everyone dolled up and we went out.
We figured that, if Italians didn’t celebrate, we could at least go store to store and buy the kids candy at each place.
Booooy, was that unnecessary. We ended up with a huge haul (though it was mostly really bizarre, gross things, many of which were unwrapped when given to us) and had an absolutely amazing time.
That night was date night part 2; even better than the first, because we found a great restaurant that served mostly buffalo meat and buffalo by-products.
FRI, DAY 6: Happy Birthday Boo Bear; More Buffalo
We woke up to a house decorated with streamers (which was a bit of a surprise, since I had had a LOT of wine before I put them up the night before) and had a birthday breakfast of grilled cheese, bacon and ice cream cake.
After that, my parents took William to the store to pick out his birthday gifts. My sweet little boy spent more time looking for a baby for his sister than he did on finding his own toys. How incredibly lucky is Penelope to have such a loving brother? I will have to remind her of that the next time he threatens to murder her dolls to get her to do what he wants.
William’s one birthday request from us (okay, one of William’s 653 birthday requests) was to go to a pool on his birthday. We thought it would be easy, given that we were at the beach, but it took some effort until we found the most fabulous hotel, Hotel Mediterraneo. In a lovely twist of fate, this was the coldest day of the entire trip and the only day when we had absolutely zero sunshine. But it was still a great, great birthday celebration.
After that, Shane took Will out for even more ice cream.
FRI, NIGHT 6: More Buffalo
We went back to the Inn Buffalo for a second time, after doing some serious shopping in Sorrento. I bought two pairs of fabulous sandals at an amazing little store that has walls of gorgeous handmade leather footwear, my mother found some great plates and yet-another change purse, Shane tried on linen shirts, the kids got their obligatory Italian hooded jackets, and (of course) William mooned Penelope in the middle of a crowded street.
SAT, DAY 7: BONUS TRIP!!!
We said goodbye to our beautiful home on a perfectly sunny morning.
After a relatively uneventful drive back to the Rome Ciampino airport, we schlepped all of the bags, luggage, car seats, strollers, etc. into the airport and went to the ticket counter. Where we found out that someone can’t read military time for shit and got us to the airport 7 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. And that same someone got us a car that needed to be returned as well.
So, after paying the rental car agency an amount that should have been able to purchase the van outright to just extend it for 4 hours, we headed back into Rome for one more day of sightseeing. The main attraction was the Boca della Verita, which William had been extremely upset that we missed originally. Unfortunately, we were so rushed that none of us were able to test out the myth that the statute would bite off our hands if we told a lie. Which William was very grateful for – he is convinced that we all would have been handless if we had actually given it a shot.
HOME SWEET (TEMPORARY) HOME
After what was hopefully our last RyanAir flight EVER (seriously, that airline is a complete shit show), where we could see the landscape dotted with fireworks from Diwali celebrations, we were back in London. Seriously the best vacation ever.