Ah, the details. When I travel plan, I always search the travel blogs for ideas and tips. Specifically, I want your itinerary. What did you actually DO there? What was your favourite part? What would you avoid? And can I just copy you and not have to put in quite so much work? (Well, they do say the imitation is the most sincere form of flattery…..for the lazy.) So here are our details for our four day, five night Roman holiday.
Flights: Well, looky here. Our old buddy Norwegian offers discount airfares from London all over Europe. Fab. And because we are homeschoolers, we have some flexibility with dates so I can get the cheapest fares. I think on the way home I paid £35 and even less for the kids. Cha ching. Plus then we get to be all uppity and say things like “This certainly isn’t like Norwegian Airlines IN Norway.” or “Tusen takk for din hjelp. Oh? You don’t actually speak Norwegian.” (Commence eye roll).
Lodging: We stayed at an apartment in near the Campo di Fiori, which I found on Bookings.com. And it was AWESOME. The apartment was large with a roof top terrace. It wasn’t the fanciest, but it definitely was authentic. The location was amazing. Campo di Fiori has a market where we got breakfast everyday. Also, surrounding the square are bars and restaurants, and Will’s favourite, the butcher where he purchased smoked sausage for us to snack on each day as we wandered through the city.
Breakfast in Campo di Fiori
It was also walkable to the Piazza Navonna and the Pantheon. Other than those, we took cabs everywhere, which were readily available. Not tiring out the children too quickly was worth the Euro in cab fare.
Day One: Colosseum and the Forum
We arrived late the night before and we knew the weather was going to be good, so we decided to tackle the biggest destination first, the COLOSSEUM. (Did you hear the big announcer voice?) Upon website recommendations, I bought tickets online before we went. Which was a good idea as we did avoid some of the lines, but it was super confusing. It wasn’t quite clear where we needed to go and the lines got all jumbled up. Here is where the Romans could take some advice from the que-loving British. In any case, when we finally got to the ticket window, we signed up for a tour provided by the Colosseum itself.
Now perhaps, its because we did not travel at a peak time, but our experiences in this area differ from almost every family travel website I found. EVERYONE said, Rome is so big and confusing. If you are going with kids, you NEED a guide. Hire a special company, blah blah blah. Yeah, we never needed one. This normal guide lady was interesting and the kids listened to her and then just zoned out when they were bored. It’s not like there wasn’t plenty to look at when they didn’t want to listen anymore. Perhaps it’s our laid back travel attitude? Who knows? In any case, we had a great time at the Colosseum.
By this point we were hungry and it was time to find a lunch spot. Now, I frequently tease my husband about his love of Yelp. We can never be that family that just gets hungry, sees a restaurant nearby, and sits down. No no no. We have to find the BEST restaurant in the vicinity. However, I have to say, I am getting spoiled. We eat really really well thanks to Yelp. Will found us a fabulous pizza restaurant just a little walk away from the Colosseum and we were all quite happy. (This also marks the first time it was just assumed that Will and I would share a pitcher of wine at a meal. Hey, when in Rome, right?)
After lunch we went back to the Forum and a lovely walk around. The Forum is very hard to picture as most of the buildings are barely there anymore, but I bought a Rome Reconstructed book at one of the many tourist stalls around the Colosseum and it really helped. It’s this great book that shows a picture of a site now and then has a plastic overlay that shows what it looked like in its heyday. Josie loved this book. She was all about using it to be our tour guide. We used it all over Rome. (Although as a tip: I did find it cheaper in the tourist shops farther away from the Colosseum, but that’s not a big surprise is it?)
My favourite part of the Forum? Just sitting around enjoying the sunshine. There were lovely gardens and at one point Josie and I just sat under an olive tree while Will and Marshall walked off to see another site. You know, because how often does one get to sit under an olive tree in the sunshine? And what does one do when you sit under an olive tree in the Forum? (Actually, it was technically, the Palatine Hill.) Take funny face selfies, OF COURSE.
Incidentally, this is also where we discovered that Rome has lizards. Cute little lizards. And what did the children find most interesting when they were surrounded by thousands of years of history? Clearly, the lizards. The rest of the trip became a “Find a Lizard” expedition, interspersed with sight seeing.
Perhaps we didn’t get as much information crammed into our brains as those groups that were walking around with tour guides, but we really did enjoy ourselves. (Which is not to say that occasionally we stopped slightly apart but yet in earshot of those tour guides). We were tired and done at this point. So we hopped a cab back to the apartment and relaxed for the afternoon.
We had dinner at a restaurant near our apartment on the Campo di Fiori. yelped of course. Oh pasta. I love you so. Eating dinner before everyone else in Rome has its advantages. We can talk to the waiters and they can be enchanted by our children. Which results in Will ordering new things like oxtail with gnocchi. And our lives will never be the same.
Onto Villa Borghese and the Spanish Steps tomorrow….but this post has been long enough.