The trip was well planned if I do say so myself. We had some flexibility with the schedule that we utilized and we had enough time to see most of what we wanted to see without killing ourselves. The sites and history were amazing as were the food and gelato.
We stayed in an apartment in the heart of central Rome near Piazza Navona. This put us within 2 miles of most of the sites we wanted to see. It also gave us the necessary space to separate when necessary. Our general schedule worked well: croissants/muffins/coffee in the apartment, leave between 8-9, morning activity, picnic lunch, afternoon activity, gelato break, back to apartment around 4-5, rest up, dinner at 7. Surprisingly relaxed pace in this city that could be hectic/chaotic.
Note: here's a funny YouTube clip showing how Italy is different than the rest of the European Union (not all true but pretty close!).
Note: if you are thinking of going to Rome or want some more planning details, see my post on Fodor's.
I've selected my favorite 200 or so photos to tell the story :-), so hunker down and enjoy.
Day 1 -- Sunday: Borghese Gallery and strolling around
Borghese Gallery which required a reservation for a 2-hr time slot. We also signed up for the English tour. This gallery was the pride/joy/hobby of Cardinal Scipione Borghese (early 1600s). Interestingly enough, Borghese wasn't particularly religious but he got the appointment because his uncle was pope! He used his position (and money from it) to commission many great works of art by Bernini and others. No photos allowed inside. Here were our 3 favorites (all Bernini's taken from the website).
Statue in Piazza de Popolo
opposite statue in Piazza del Popolo
Spanish steps -- crowded and chaotic
looking down the Spanish Steps
Triton Fountain in Piazza Barberini
Capuchin Monk Crypt (and here). This I had to see. Bones, bones, bones. "Their bones, together with those of many other people buried in the cemetery, were used to decorate the walls and chapels of the crypt, as a kind of hymn to life." Again, no photos, but here are some from the web.
this was on the ceiling in one of the rooms
family shot at Trevi
family shot -- not sure what's to my left that has the kids' attention
Day 2 -- Monday: Ancient Rome
massive Arch of Constantine outside the Colossuem
The Arch of Constantine from the Colosseum. Palatine Hill off to the right.
Modern (relatively) buildings and a nearly 2000 year old one.
A view of some of the Palatine ruins and St. Peter's off in the distance.
Cork tree. Who knew. I guess I never thought where cork comes from.
a view of the ancient Forums from Palatine
again, Forums, this time with the Colosseum in the background
details on the Arch of Titus within the Forums
crafting the perfect cone
a well deserved treat (and seat!)
kids in front of 4 Rivers
fountain near Pantheon
Trevi (still loads of people around, just not in the photo)
Day 3 -- Tuesday: Ostia Antica
capturing the beautiful day
Ostia (Rome), that was the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, which is approximately 30 km to the northeast. "Ostia" in Latin means "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but, due to silting and a drop in sea level, the site now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
I believe it silted up over time and the mud preserved the site well (similar to Pompeii in a way though Ostia Antica provides a more working [port] town viewpoint). The shot above is "main street" into the city.
Nicole in front of the old city entrance (I think)
a surviving mosaic floor
dwellings (or business buildings)
the large amphitheater (partially restored, I believe)
market square, so to speak
Nicole inside the amphitheater
more mosaics . . . trading post? sea food? not sure
kids as a column (I guess)
Alex found a bowl. I think it is for grinding grain (we were in that area at least)
view from an upper floor
Kuk and Alex taking a break
a rested Alex climbing up to join me
Nicole one floor down
ancient toilets. . . glad to see that stalls came along
the kids in front of the bath area
probably not the first to pose here
or the second
Kuk with her seafood pasta
And Alex with his own clam pasta
While we waited for him to open the door to the building, we were tight against the wall. Unfortunately, the restaurant across the street had outdoor seating that jutted into the road making in very narrow. All of a sudden Kuk yelps and cries out. A car that was inching down the road ran over her foot! It actually stopped on it and I yelled at it to back off (it did). Kuk was in near hysterics and it wasn't a good way to start the trip (to say the least). Fortunately, it only rolled over the tip of her foot. It pinned her and just got her little toe. Very scary but nothing broken (phew). The apartment had a wine ice pack that she put over her foot as she recovered.
Another inch and her toes/foot (and our vacation) would have been ruined.
Day 4 -- Wednesday: Churches and the Capitoline Museums
Michelangelo's Moses inside the church
looks like Charlton Heston (or vice versa I should say)
art work above the chains
enjoyed the fairly random use of skeletons used elsewhere in the church
excavations underneath it (sorry no photos). The layers of Rome -- a 12th century basilica, which sits atop a 4th century church which sits atop a 2nd century Temple of Mirthras (pagan). Pretty cool stuff.
Temple of Hercules (and sometimes called the Temple of Vespa)
Goddess Roma and 2 river gods
kids with Roma
God of the Tiber (with Romulus and Remus)
God of Nile (holding cornucopia symbolizing the fertility of the Nile)
Big foot. We are now in the Capitoline Museum(s) -- very enjoyable.
Big hand (these are of a former statue of Constantine)
and finally the big head
nothing like a good kill scene to get your attention (or at least Alex's)
boy with thorn--life can be mundane and it's captured in art in this instance
the famous Capitolina Lupa (she-wolf) with Romulus and Remus
the original Marcus Aurelius statue
another big Constantine
nothing special, but we liked the whippets
family shot in front of Forum
massive sculpture of Marforio
my beautiful "little" girl
back across the Forums and Colosseum
Day 5 -- Thursday: Vatican City
coming up to St. Peter's
walking up a dome involves some curves!
more Vatican grounds
kid shot up top
view of the dome from up top (note we were up by the cross near the top)
dome shot with kids
Jesus and his disciples looking out over St. Peter's Square
now back in the basilica, this time on the ground level
St. Andrew (I believe)
Bernini's 7 story bronze canopy above the alter
the hard to see alter marking the burial spot of St. Peter (much farther below)
Bernini's dove / golden window in apse
Michelangelo's Pieta (Mary with crucified Jesus)
a look back down this massive, massive church
obligatory shot of the Vatican guards
helpful (fortunately not needed at this point)
Bes. The patron of beer-bellied men.
nice courtyard in the ancient wing
anatomical police and the fig leaf (also Hercules)
absolutely massive porphyry basin (remember that this is rare marble)
art work on another massive porphyry coffin
the long march (map gallery)
On the ceiling: a classical statue blown away by the power of the cross
Alas, I have no photos of the Sistine Chapel as cameras were not allowed. In fact, the main memory is of the guards continually saying "ssssssssshhhhhhhhh" and "noooooooo phoooooooootoooooo" while we were trying to figure it out. I say try because we never really did. It is very complex and the room was very crowded. We did buy a book about it so maybe I'll get there.
Day 6 -- Friday: Pantheon/Piazza Navona plus Le Domus Romane
occulus in top of tomb -- yes it can rain through it. The floor is sloped for drainage.
Victor Emmanuel II tomb
And the Nile (the headwaters were unknown and hence "covered").
Rio de la Plata (from Uruguay)--lots of discussion on why the look of shock, etc.
and the Danube
Odd ball statue in the courtyard
waiting to go in -- notice the uniquely grafted tree trunk
nearby Trajan's Column
some of Trajan's Forum ruins (we just looked from outside the gate)
family taking a break
ticking a few last things off the list -- a walk over to Tiberina Island
on the bridge over the Tiber
a quick walk through Trastevere in Santa Maria in Trastevere plaza
inside the church and its famous mosaics
a closer look -- thought to perhaps be the first instance of Mary at the throne with Jesus in heaven (this predates the Renaissance by 100 years or so)
Well, there you have it, assuming you've made it this far. As you can see, we had a good time. The people were great and it was very easy to find our way around. A future trip to a different part of Italy is certainly in the cards . . .