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Trip Report Amazing trip to Rome and 7 day cruise with kids

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Hi!

I received such great comments, advice, and tips in this forum that I wanted to give back. I got so many ideas from your trip reports that I hope I can at least help one person as you all helped me.

A bit about us, we are a couple in our mid 30´s from South America (English is not my first language), who enjoy travelling, wine and dining. This was our first long trip with our kids ages 10 and 8. They´d never been to Europe before, so they were extremely excited about the trip. To tell you the truth the whole idea for this trip came from my eldest son, who one day asked me if I could take him to visit the Parthenon, I did some research and found a very good deal for a cruise that departed from Civitavecchia and made one stop at Athens.

Our initial itinerary was 2 days in Rome then a week on the cruise and then fly back home. But after checking the price for air tickets we found an extremely good deal on business class (the catch was that there were a few blackout dates so the trip had to be longer than expected). The itinerary ended up looking like this:

Day 1 Wednesday 26th Arrive in Rome at 6:00pm. Hotel Adriano.
Day 2 Morning: Colosseum, Palatine, Forum
Lunch
Afternoon: elevator to the top of the Vittoriano, Campidoglio and Capitoline museums.
Day 3 Morning: Vatican museums, Sistine chapel, St Peter’s
Lunch
Afternoon: Castel Sant’Angelo, and Ponte Sant’Angelo
Day 4 Morning: Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Sta Maria Sopra Minerva, Trevi fountain
Lunch
Afternoon: Sta Maria della Concezione, Piazza di Spagna, Via Condotti
Day 5-12 Royal Caribbean Cruise: Civitavecchia, Mesina, at sea, Kusadasi, Athens, Crete, at sea, Civitavecchia
Day 12 Leave the ship at 9:00am
Visit Trastevere, or do something that was left undone from the previous days.
Day 13 Day trip to Pompeii and Naples
Day 14 Fly back home

We departed our hometown on october the 25th, arrived at Madrid and then onto Rome. We hired Rocarservices for our transfer, they were there waiting for us and took us to Hotel Adriano which is located near Piazza Navona. We arrived at the hotel, we stayed at the Junior Suite were the four of us could share one room. Downstairs the kids slept on the sofa bed, and on the upper floor we had a king size bed and a half bathroom. The full bathroom was downstairs. The room was big and comfortable a little bit hot for our taste but manageable.

After we were settled , we went to have dinner at Trattoria Da Ugo e Maria, it was very small, only a few steps away from the hotel with a sign that read only “Trattoria”. The food was really good, my kids had spaghetti pomodoro, my husband gnocchis and I had a bisteca with artichokes, everything was excellent. The only thing is that at first they didn´t look like they wanted us there, I guess tourists with kids was not the ideal clientele for them, but after they realized we were not discouraged by their attitude they became really friendly and even helped us with our Italian, which was pretty much nonexistent. But I´m glad to say that it got a little bit easier to communicate with others after a few days.

After dinner we walked to Piazza Navona, took a few pictures, had gelato at Tre Scalini and walked around the piazza absorbing the atmosphere, it was great to be there with my family, we felt really lucky. At 11pm we walked back to our hotel to rest.

The next morning we woke up at 9, had breakfast which was really good, and took a cab to the Colosseum. We bought our tickets at the Palatine Hill entrance to avoid the lines. We didn´t get the Roma pass tickets because my kids have Italian passports so they can get in the Colosseum and many other sites for free. We then went back to the Colosseum, again took a lot of pictures, climbed to the upper part, we didn´t do the tour since we had audioguides downloaded to our ipods, which were pretty informative and allowed us to go at our own pace. We then went to the Palatine and the Roman Forum. It started to rain a little but nothing that discouraged us from enjoying the ruins and having a great time.

At this point I´d like to thank the fodor forums for the idea to do a scavenger hunt, I believe I took it from indy_dad post. My kids had a great time trying to find the archs, the obelisks, the meaning of SPQR, I even included one that asked them to count as many SPQR inscriptions as possible, they enjoyed themselves immensely with this.

We exited the forum through the stairs that took us to the Campidoglio, we were really tired by then and decided to skip the Capitoline Museums, we just strolled around took more pictures and then went to the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument. We walked up the stairs and then took the elevator to the top. The views were amazing!

After the monument it was time for a late lunch, we went to Enoteca Provincia Romana. Our lunch there was great, we had a bottle of red wine, antipasto that included a variety of cheeses and cured meats, my kids had pizza bianca and I had a salad, after that espressos and we were all set to continue our day. We took a few more pictures of the Trajan column which was just outside the restaurant and then decided to ride on the horse carriages, we had to haggle a bit to lower the asking price for the ride. We departed from the monument and the little tour included the Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi, Spanish Steps, and finished at Piazza Navona. It took around 40 minutes, it was an enjoyable ride. By then it was already 7pm, we had some more gelato at the piazza, and then walked back to our hotel. At 8:30pm we went to Pietro Valentini for our dinner, this was one of my favorite meals of the trip. My kids had pasta amatriciana, and my husband and I had pasta as well but I can´t remember which kind, I just remember it was great, we had the pasta with tartufo nero, and they showed us the differences between the black and white truffles. We were very pleased with the quality of the food and the price as well. I would highly recommend this restaurant.

After the restaurant we walked back to our hotel and made the now unavoidable stop at piazza Navona for more gelato. Finally, we went to bed really tired but happy and looking forward to what the next day would have to offer.

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    The next day was our Vatican day. We had purchased the tickets on the Vatican web site to enter at 10am. We were ready for breakfast at 9 and then took a cab to the Vatican museums, we went directly to the door and they let us through, there weren´t really long lines but I was glad I bought the tickets anyway because you never really know what you will encounter once you arrive. We rented the audioguides they offered at the museum, there was one audioguide that caught our attention that said it was designed specifically for families with kids up to 12 years old. Unfortunately they only have this version in Italian and English.

    The size of the museum was incredibly impressive. There was so much to see, I don´t know how long it would take to actually see everything that it has to offer. The part I appreciated the most was the Raphael rooms. Before our trip I had read the book Michaelangelo and the Pope´s ceiling, it tells the story of how Michaelangelo frescoed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but at the same time tells his rivalry with fellow painter Raphael who was doing the frescoes at the rooms inside the Vatican. The book really put things in perspective and I felt that I could actually imagine how these masterpieces came to be in existence. My kids enjoyed the marble statues, the map gallery but the Sistine Chapel was the highlight of the day for them. By the time we reached the chapel we were really tired and they didn´t want to listen to the audioguides anymore so I tried to point to them some of the most important scenes. We found a place to sit down and stayed there for a long time and then let them discover by themselves what the paintings were and just to absorb the amazing work that they had in front of them, or over them.

    After that, we left the museums through the huge spiral staircase, they loved that too. Once we were outside we went to Old Bridge for some gelato, I had the nocciola and chocolate, it was incredible. We walked to St Peter´s square, again we had our own audioguides, it was a really sunny day and the heat was starting to get to us, so we found a place by the shade to sit down right next to the columns and listened to the first part of our guides while we finished our ice creams. Then we went to stand in line for the security check, there was a really long line but it moved fast.

    Once inside, we were again impressed by the size of everything, St Peter is truly a magnificent church, I guess you have to be standing there in order to really take in how massive it is. We went to see the Pieta which was one of the pieces that was featured in our scavenger hunt. My kids were really impressed by it. We are catholics, and they are at an age were religion is important to them, so they were clearly moved by the image of the virgin and her son. We admired the baldachin (had to look that word up) which is the huge bronze canopy situated right at the crossing of the church and the sanctuary both made by Bernini. Our kids stood in line to touch the bronze foot of St Peter, they were really impressed by the incorrupt body of John XXIII, to tell you the truth we adults were impressed as well, this sighting made my husband turn to look at me and ask to be incinerated after death and have his ashes scattered somewhere. Don´t ask me why that would be the first thing to come to his mind.

    We took a little time to say our prayers and be thankful for having the opportunity to be together as a loving family at this amazing place. On our way out of the Basilica we took pictures of the Swiss guards that were standing outside and a few more of the obelisk, fountains and statues that surround the Piazza. My kids had already crossed out 4 of the 12 obelisks that can be found while in Rome. By the time we left San Peter’s Square, it was almost 4 in the afternoon and we hadn´t had lunch yet. We didn´t feel like walking any more so we took a cab and went to Campo di Fiore to see if there was a restaurant opened at that time. Ponte Sant’Angelo would just have to wait. The only restaurant that was serving people at the time was Baccanal, it was an ok meal, but just what we needed at the time. After our late lunch, we took our kids to the Time Elevator, they enjoyed it a lot. I wasn´t too sure about going there, because of the mixed reviews the place had, but it was a nice way to present a bit of Rome history to our kids, so I´m glad they had the opportunity to see it. Then we just strolled along Via del Corso and via Fratina, we knew we were close to the Spanish steps but decided to skip it since we were going to go there the following day. By dinner time we were hungry again and since we couldn´t find reservations at Gino´s we went to Mario, not a great meal. My kids and I ordered pasta which was way too salty for our taste, my husband on the other hand asked for a steak and it was good.

    We were tired but wanted to see the Trevi fountain at night so we walked there, since it was almost midnight it was empty. We took pictures of our kids throwing the coins in the fountain, with no crowds surrounding us we were able to truly take in the fountain, we sat there for a while admiring it. At midnight a few guards came to tell us that they had to close the access to the fountain because it was time for cleaning. On our way back to our hotel we got lost and ended up at the Spanish Steps. We had no idea how we had gotten there since the hotel was located on the opposite direction, but again since there were no crowds we could see the steps, the church at the top, the obelisk and took a few pictures of the fountain. The sightings are so different without the crowds. We knew we could walk back to the hotel but we were extremely tired and we just took a cab. When we sat down in the car you could hear a unanimous sigh of relief. Back at the hotel, as soon as our heads touched our pillows we were out.

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    On our third day we had planned to visit a few churches, the piazzas and the fountains. We almost missed breakfast which was served until 10am because we slept in a little more since the day before had been a long and tiring one. After breakfast we headed to Piazza Navona, my kids knew the way by heart now, so they guided us while they counted some more SPQR. I think they stopped counting at 300. Again we took pictures of the 3 fountains and the church, both boys looked hard for the animals on the four river fountain which was of course featured on the scavenger hunt. We had another audio guide that told the legend about the rivalry between Bernini and Borromini and how one of the statues of the Bernini fountain has its arms up as if protecting itself form the church that can fall because it´s poorly built by Borromini. They loved this story and still tell it to family and friends whenever they have an opportunity.

    We then walked to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, my kids wanted to find the next obelisk but when we arrived it was covered because it was under maintenance. Inside we saw the Cristo della Minerva by Michelangelo, the Pope´s tombs, the painting depicting Juan de Torquemada. Even though we went there mainly because of the Bernini elephant and Egyptian obelisk outside, we were gladly impressed by what we found inside the church, we spent there more time than we had planned but that was ok. We then walked to the church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. We went there mainly to see the trompe l’oeil ceiling, and again were gladly surprised with what the church had to offer. The chapel to the right of the altar houses a marble monument that was amazing, I felt like touching the marble that resembles a cloth just to make sure it was really marble. The frescoes on the ceiling were really impressive and the fake dome didn´t disappoint.

    We then walked to the Pantheon, outside we spotted the next obelisk on our list, inside we listened to our audio guides, saw the Raphael tomb, the tomb of Victor Emmanuel II, and were marveled by the sheer size of the dome and the oculus. The boys were really interested to learn that when it rains the rain falls inside as well. They also looked for the masonic symbol outside that was featured on the Angels and Demons movie. We then walked to Santa Maria della Concezione or the bone church. For those who haven´t heard of this, there is a crypt to the right of the entrance to the church, where you can see the bones of 4000 friars. The bones are arranged on the walls as ornaments. You can see skeletons that are nearly intact dressed as friars, on the last crypt there are 2 skeletons of young girls I believe, and there are elaborate designs all around you, like flowers, clocks, circles, it´s really a work of art with a darker side to it. There is even a phrase written with bones that says something like “As you are now we were then, as we are now you´ll be someday”. Goes without saying that my boys were incredibly impressed by this, but they enjoyed themselves they even bought one postcard each, since we weren´t allowed to take any pictures inside. We then went to the church to say a few prayers and then it was time for lunch.

    We went to Tulio which is located nearby, this was another of my favorite meals of the trip. As starter we had the antipasto and as a main course we had the bisteca fiorentina which was amazing, cooked to perfection and really tasty. My kids had pasta but once they saw the bisteca they also wanted some, so we shared it among the four of us. They had gelato for dessert and my husband and I had the profiteroles which were really good and espresso afterwards. Everything was delicious.

    From the restaurant we walked to the church of Trinita dei Monti, the church that is at the top of the Spanish Steps. We took a few pictures of the view, then we walked down the stairs while counting the steps which was another of the scavenger hunt questions. This time the piazza and the steps were really crowded so we were glad that we had been there so late at night before without all the people. We walked along via Condoti, we took a peek at Café Antico Greco but didn´t eat anything there. We did some window shopping and then walked back to our hotel, our kids wanted one last gelato so we stopped at Tre Scalini to get some before heading to the hotel. It wasn´t late, but we were tired and decided to skip dinner and just stay in and rest. And I still had to pack our bags since the following day we would be embarking on our cruise to Sicily, Turkey and Greece.

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    Excellent report Gabrielle. I am forwarding it to my brother who is going to Rome next September.
    I've been to Rome twice but after reading this I want to go back to check out some of the locations you mention and the restaurants.

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    Thanks for your kind words, as I said before, I had so much help from the fodor forums in planning my trip that I wanted to give back by writing this trip report.

    I will soon add links so you can see a few pictures (I took more than 500, but I won´t upload that many, don´t worry), and maybe the address and phone numbers of the restaurants and hotel where I stayed.

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    Now moving on to the cruise portion of our trip, and after that, there are 2 more days of Rome and Pompeii.

    On Sunday we slept until 9:30, had our breakfast, finished our last minute packing and then headed to the lobby for our check out and to wait for the transfer to the port. At 11 our car was there. The transfer took us around 1 hour and 20 minutes, once at the port the check in process was fairly quick, we received our cards/keys, filled out some forms and boarded the ship. We were not allowed to go to our rooms until after 1, so we went to the Windjammer café for a light lunch. We sat outside by the pool, until we could go to our rooms and unpack.

    My husband and I had an ocean view standard room, my kids had an inside cabin. We hoped to have one room in front of the other, but we had no such luck. We were located to the front of the ship on the right hand side, and my kids were by the middle on the left. I was a little bit worried but we didn´t encounter any troubles with this arrangement. I guess both boys are old enough to take care of themselves. And the room attendants were really nice to them and offered to call me if anything happened, but there was never any reason for them to call. What we did is that every night I left their clothes on the couch so they would know what to wear the following day, and every afternoon I would tell them what to wear for the evening, I would go to my cabin to start getting ready, and when they were ready they came to our cabin so we could help them with their ties because they don’t know how to tie the knot yet.

    On the first day we walked around the ship to get oriented, and familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. We had ordered the romance package which included a champagne bottle and strawberries on the first evening, appetizers and sweets on the afternoon of the first formal dinner, and a picture and frame to take home as a souvenir. The champagne arrived at 5, we enjoyed that relaxing time as a couple a lot. I guess we needed a break from the family time, don´t take me wrong, we love our kids dearly, but we were happy to be by ourselves for a while and enjoy some grown up time. We had the late dinner time slot, so at 7:30 the four of us headed to one of the bars to enjoy some music and then to the dining room. The food was good, we ordered a wine package, which included 5 bottles of wine for a better price that if we ordered them individually, this was a good deal for us.

    On Monday we arrived at Mesina, we had booked one of the ship excursions that took us to Mt Etna and the town of Taormina. My kids enjoyed Mt Etna a lot, they had fun climbing the craters and exploring around. It was really cold but we all had scarves, hats and gloves, so it wasn´t a big issue. We then went to the restaurant where we had cannoli and wine. We then went to Taormina, it was a lovely town, we didn´t have time to visit the Greek Theater but we took some pictures from the outside. The views were great. It was a nice tour.

    Tuesday was a sea day, my kids wanted to do some ice skating, and played mini golf. They didn´t want to go to the adventure ocean so I don´t know if it is any good. We also saw the ice skating show which we found very entertaining.

    On Wednesday we arrived at Kusadasi, this time we did not have an excursion with the ship. We had booked one separately, I can tell you this was the best decision we could have made. We left the port before any of the tours, and we were always one step ahead of the crowds, so we enjoyed everything a lot. Ephesus was amazing, we enjoyed the ruins a lot, the guide spoke English but since she was there only for the four of us, she took her time to speak slowly for the boys so they could understand some of the things she was saying and when they didn´t grasp something, she waited for me to translate for them. The fact that she addressed them made them feel important and they were really engaged with everything that she had to say. After Ephesus we went to the Virgin Mary´s house, then to St John´s Basilica and then to the Artemis Temple, which is really just a column now, but it was still interesting to visualize how big it used to be, then we went to the traditional carpet demonstration. They must be great sellers, because at the end my kids wanted us to buy the rugs, that is until we told them the price. By 3 our tour was over and the guide directed us to a place close to the bazaar where we could have lunch and be close to the port. We had an amazing meal. At first I was a little worried that my boys wouldn´t want to eat because the food was different. But we were gladly surprised, they wanted to try everything and enjoyed the meal a lot. We had the Turkish bread with hummus and labne for starter and as a main course a variety of kebabs. It was delicious, we tried the Turkish wine, Turkish coffee and the apple tea. Then we walked around the stores and finally headed for the port. This was our favorite port, which was a surprise because we all thought Athens would be the best.

    We highly recommend visiting Ephesus if you have the chance. It was really incredible.

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    On Thursday we stopped at Athens, we wanted to do the excursion with an outside agency, but since there had been riots just a few weeks before, we didn’t want to risk it and took the ship excursion to Acropolis. The excursion was good, the Acropolis was everything we had imagined and more, but sadly the guide wasn´t that great, and I believed this is why the tour wasn´t as good as we had hoped. Still we had a great time, we learned a lot, my kids were interested in everything they saw that day, but of course I had to translate a lot for them, while trying not to disturb the other people on the tour, so it was kind of tricky. We also felt we needed more time for pictures and walking around the place by ourselves.

    After the tour they took us to the Plaka, where we had 3 hours to explore, buy, eat or do whatever we wanted. We went to a few stores to buy some souvenirs, we got a few soaps made of olive oil, some bracelets and cuffs with the greek key engraved, some T shirts, and we also got Hard Rock Cafe shot glasses which we collect. For lunch, we went to one of the restaurants that had been recommended on the ship brochures. Again the food was good, we had a large platter of a variety of starters (cheese pies were my favorite), and then another large platter for main course, it had gyros, kebabs, hummus, grape leaves, everything was tasty and the service was good. After that we walked back to our meeting point and went back to the ship.

    On Friday the last stop was Crete, this stop didn´t really have much to offer, we had to take a small shuttle bus to go from the port to the town, the ride lasted around 40 min. when we arrived we walked around the town, went to the venetian port which is really nice, but there wasn´t anything else to do there. We did a little shopping and after 90 min decided to return to the ship. We had lunch on board and spent the rest of the day doing some of the ship activities such as wall climbing, roller skating, ice skating, playing mini golf and we also went to see people do line dancing, which looked like fun, but we didn´t participate. On the last day which was a sea day we pretty much did the same things as the day before.

    In general I can say that the ship staff was really friendly and attentive, everyone took an extra time to see if the boys were having fun or needed anything else. The food was good, we always had breakfast and lunch at the windjammer, and dinner in the main dining room. Nothing was spectacular but nothing was bad either. The price for cocktails and wine was reasonable, and the amount of activities that were offered were enough to keep us entertained. This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean so we knew what to expect, we enjoyed our stay there.

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    Where in Crete were you? Was it Heraklion or another city?
    You say it took 40 min from the port to the town from the port?
    This is an indication that it wasn't Heraklion.....

    In Athens you should have done the tour with a private guide, something most people avoid, as they think that it is too expensive. All Greek guides have studied 2-3 years and have visited all the archeological/historical sites of Greece ( there are no guides without a license) and they can tell you everything about history and mythology and also give you background information. Having the guide just for you is a big difference though, as he can answer all your questions and explain with details, something that is not possible with a larger group.
    The riots that took place in Athens were limited to Syntagma square, all archeological sites and the Plaka remained unaffected......

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    Hi Clausar

    The port where the ship docked was Souda and the shuttle took us to Chania.

    Looking back we definitely regret not having done the tour with a private guide, it was pricier than the ship tour, but we believe it would have been worth it.

    We knew the riots didn´t affect Plaka or Acropolis, but we were told that public transportation was closed and some roads as well, we didn´t want to risk missing the ship departure time because we were stranded somewhere without a car to take us back to the port.

    Of course nothing happened while we were there, and if or when we go back we want to hire a private guide who will be able to answer all our questions and have the opportunity to do a tour that is tailored toward our interests.

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    Back at Civitavecchia on Sunday, the disembarkation process was quick and easy to do, but at the port we couldn´t find our driver anywhere. We said we would be there at 9am, we called and e-mailed but received no answer. By 10 we knew that they were not going to pick us up. So we asked the cabs if they could take us back to Rome, the shuttle price was 120 EUR and the taxis wanted to charge us 250 EUR which I found excessive. We started calling shuttle services to see if we could hire a ride with such a short notice, but nothing was working. Finally one of the taxi drivers approached us and said he would take us for 160 EUR and we had to accept. This of course kind of affected our mood, but after a while we just decided to let it go. Sometimes things just don´t work out the way you want, and you just have to deal with it. And, no harm had been done, at least we had a ride to go to the hotel.

    We arrived at Hotel Adriano at 1pm, our room wasn´t ready so they offered to hold our bags until we could access the room. We went, you can guess, to Piazza Navona for some more gelato. And then to Via Condoti because the kids hadn´t taken a picture of the obelisk at Piazza del Popolo which you can see from the Spanish Steps, we walked there and then it started to rain so we had to return to the hotel. Our room was ready so we unpacked, and then wanted to have lunch, since it was really late we knew it was going to be really difficult to find a restaurant opened for lunch at 3:30pm on a Sunday. Our kids wanted to eat at Hard Rock Café, since they had been really good before, trying all types of different things. We decided it would be good to have a break from all the Italian food.

    Our day didn´t go as planned since we were supposed to go to Trastevere and ride the hop on hop off bus. We had chosen the Roma Cristiana bus because they stopped at the major Basilicas and Boca della Verita which we hadn´t yet seen, and the kids could ride for free. But we didn´t get to do any of this. Besides it started raining hard.

    The worst news was when we arrived at the hotel and learned that because of the rain (apparently it had been raining hard while we were on the cruise), Pompeii had been flooded and it was closed. We called an agency, romecabs, to ask what we could do on the following day, they said that they could find out if Pompeii was really going to be closed so they could take us there, and then we could ride along the Amalfi coast and visit Sorrento and Positano. Since the following day was a Monday almost everything was going to be closed. We decided to take a chance and do this tour, which sounded like a lot to do in a day, but our options were starting to look pretty limited.

    We went to bed that day crossing our fingers and hoping that everything would be better the next day.

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    Hi again and hope you got to Pompeii. Very enjoyable report. Hub and I visited Ephesus in the 80s and it sounds like much progress has been made. Your kids sound wonderful but glad you had time for the Romantic Package on board!

    More, please.

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    Monday morning we received a call from Romecabs, saying that Pompeii was going to be opened and they would pick us up at 8:00am. We got dressed had breakfast and waited for our ride. The guide showed up at 8:30 saying that the traffic was really bad, but not to worry. We then headed to Pompeii, if I´m not mistaken it took us almost 3 hours to get there, and as soon as we arrived it started to rain. We bought the tickets for the 2 adults, the boys could go in for free. We had our audio guides and a map, and my husband and I each had one umbrella.

    The line to buy tickets was really short and we were inside the ruins in no time. There is a path that goes upwards as you enter, it was really slippery, it was hard to maneuver between the umbrella, the map, my purse, I almost fell down, luckily my husband grabbed me before I hit the ground. We proceeded with a little more caution. The boys had water proof jackets with hoods, so they were fine.

    The first part of our audio guides featured life in Pompeii, the eruption of the volcano, the Porta Marina at the entrance, so we found a place that was sheltered from the rain to listen to this and then walked towards the Basilica, Apolo´s temple and forum. And then it began raining harder and our map started to disintegrate. I couldn´t find the numbers on the map, the roads began to get really muddy, and we (the adults) began to get really discouraged, but then we saw our kids, they were having a really good time, they found the entrance to the baths, a building with a lot of frescoes on the inside, and they were really impressed with how everything had been preserved. Once we reached the inside of the building, and were away from the rain we just laughed it off. So it was raining, there was nothing we could do about it, we could miss an opportunity to learn and enjoy a great place or we could just keep exploring the city and see what it had to offer. We agreed on the second.

    Without a map or any guidance we decided to keep walking and let Pompeii surprise us. We found the houses with the big and the small fountain, the house with the Faun at the front, the public bathrooms, which my kids found amusing. We had seen these before in Ephesus, and they found it really funny that men would conduct their businesses while using these public facilities. Sometimes we would get lost and had to backtrack, but in every corner we found something interesting to see. Finally it stopped raining and the sun came out, and we were able to take some really nice pictures.

    We then went back to our car, and drove to Sorrento where we had our lunch. The restaurant was O Parruchiano. We hadn´t looked up any restaurants at Sorrento so this was our driver’s recommendation. We were a bit hesitant, but again we were gladly surprised. I think the restaurant is geared toward tourists, it had 3 different settings and a big garden indoors, towards the front everyone at the tables spoke Italian, towards the back everyone spoke English, except for us who spoke Spanish. The owner approached our table, made some suggestions on the wine and dishes, talked a lot to our kids, tried to taught the some Italian and had his picture taken with them. The boys were delighted and we enjoyed our meal immensely. The wine we ordered was a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, as starters we had the antipasto, and for main dish my kids had pene and meatballs, I had the shrimp ravioli and my husband had a risotto with lobster. For desserts we had profiteroles and gelato, and an espresso and Sambuca to finish our meal. By then we were dry, warm, and happy.

    We walked along the road where the restaurant was located, visited a few souvenir shops, took some pictures and then started our drive to Positano. The scenery was amazing, the driver stopped along a few points in order to take some pictures and admire the view. He talked a lot, answered our questions, and was really friendly and attentive. Once we arrived in Positano he dropped us off at our meeting point in order to drive around and pick us up later. We descended the road towards the beach, the stores, the sights, the views, everything was really cozy and seemed like taken from a movie set. Of course we had little time to enjoy everything but we had a really nice time, and we didn´t feel rushed, actually we were really relaxed, especially since the weather was good again. I think that in the future I would like to go back and stay in Positano for 2 or 3 nights in order to really appreciate the town.

    And then, it was time to go back, the drive was really long and the traffic was heavy, the four of us fell asleep at some point. Finally, we arrived at our hotel at around 9:15. And didn´t really know how we were going to be ready at 9:30 when we had our reservation for dinner at Gino.

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    That day we had found out that a cousin of mine had arrived the night before in Rome with his 2 sons. We promptly arranged to go out for our last dinner with them to Gino at 9:30, we called and asked if we could be 7 instead of 4 and they said it wouldn´t be any trouble. In only 15 minutes we had to change and get ready to go out, I don´t know how we managed to be ready but at 9:30 we were all set to go. We met my cousin at the lobby and walked to the restaurant which was only 3 blocks away from the hotel. We had a good meal, our expectations were really high because of all the great reviews we had read and the fact that 2 times we had been told that there were no reservations since it was so popular, I guess we were expecting too much, it wasn´t a bad meal but it wasn´t the best we had either.

    My older kid order the bisteca, my youngest penne pomodoro, my husband and I decided to have our last pasta amatriciana. We ended up drinking 4 bottles of wine (it came out to one bottle per person since my cousin´s oldest son is old enough to drink) which the waiter recommended, and it was good in quality and price. We were toasting to our future travels to Italy, and having a great time. We decided to skip dessert and go to Piazza Navona for our last gelato. I had a bacio, chocolate and nocciola gelato which was incredible. My cousin wanted to go to the Trevi Fountain, since they had done the ancient Rome tour that day, but hadn´t seen anything else. We walked to the Pantheon first and the four boys were our guides, we let them show us the way, it was nice to see them walk which such confidence and act like they had been living there for a long time. They had fun showing their cousins what they had learned in the past days. Then we went to the Trevi Fountain and finally headed back to our hotel, by then it was past 1 o´clock.

    I still had to pack our bags and make sure we left nothing behind. The car was going to pick us up the following day at 5:30am so we didn´t have much time to rest. We had hired the transfer with Rocar but since they had stood us up before, we asked the hotel to find a car for us to take us to the airport. The driver the hotel found for us was waiting at the lobby the following day, and on our way to the airport we enjoyed our last views of the Colosseum, Vittorio Emmanuel Monument, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius columns, Circo Massimo and Santa Maria in Cosmedin (which we never found the time to visit, so no Boca della Verita picture for us, maybe next time). The four of us were tired, but happy to have been able to do this amazing trip.

    We had a great time, some things worked out, others didn´t go as planned, but I wouldn´t change anything, we enjoyed ourselves immensely, we learned a lot about Rome, history, culture and about ourselves and we felt closer now as a result. This was an incredible journey which we expect to be able to do again sometime.

    I hoped you enjoyed this trip report, and that it helps someone who is thinking about going to Rome. You all inspired me to plan the trip and to write about it, and I thank you a lot for everything you added to our time there, and now as I wrote this I got to relieve some parts of this amazing experience.

    Soon I´ll add a link where you can see some pictures, and info about the places we visited.

    Enjoy your travels!

    Happy Holidays!

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    Hi!

    As promised, these are a few web links that helped me a lot with the planning:
    http://romerevealed.typepad.com/rome-revealed/ tips about attractions, customs, restaurants, public transportation, etc.
    http://www.parlafood.com/ great tips on food and restaurants
    http://piccolituristi.turismoroma.it/index.php/pagine/indice/en lots of info for planning your days with kids
    http://www.passagetoroma.com/


    This blog brought Rome alive for me before our trip
    http://www.wired2theworld.com/Rome2009.html


    And here is the information on the restaurants:

    Trattoria Da Ugo e Maria
    Via dei Prefetti 19
    39 06 6873752

    Enoteca Provincia Romana
    Largo Foro Traiano 82/84
    +39 0669940273
    http://www.enotecaprovinciaromana.it/

    Pietro Valentini
    Via dei Pianellari, 19
    06 6868565

    Il Baccanale
    Piazza Campo de Fiori, 32
    We didn´t have this on our to do list, it just was the only restaurant that was opened at that time. Not bad, but you can find better places to eat.

    Mario
    Via delle Vite 55
    I had been here before, last time it was good, but this time it didn´t live up to our expectations. If you are ever here the meat is better than the pastas.

    Tullio
    Via San Nicolo da Tolentino 26
    06-481-8564
    http://www.tullioristorante.it/i_nostri_piatti.html
    Definitely try the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, it is delicious.

    The restaurant in Sorrento
    O’ Parrucchiano
    Corso Italia 71
    http://www.parrucchiano.com/en/home.php

    Hope that info helps!

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    Thanks Treesa, I´ll be uploading them soon. Happy New Year to you too!

    I forgot to include the hotel info

    Hotel Adriano
    Via di Pallacorda 2
    http://www.hoteladriano.com/inglese/hotel.htm

    After checking out different hotels in various locations, price ranges, ammenities included, etc. I ended up choosing Hotel Adriano, it was the best decision I could have made. The price was adequate, the staff was helpful, the room was huge for european standards, we had the Junior Suite for the 4 of us and never felt crammed. The location the best I could have hoped for. I read a few reviews on trip advisor, some were excellent, some good and some mediocre, different people can have different opinions about the same thing, in this case this hotel worked great for us.

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    I really enjoyed your report. Your boys sound like real troopers when it comes to travel adventures. They were tolerant when the unplanned happened and seemed ready to soak up all the iinformation on what they were seeing. But you and your husband seemed like such wonderful travelers, they must come by it naturally.

    Your English is excellent, better than many for whom English is a first language! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!
    I am looking forward to seeing your pictures.

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    What a wonderful TR Gabrielle, am forwarding it to my sis who will be spending 4 weeks in Italy this summer. Her kids are much older, but am sure they'll enjoy the scavanger hunt all the same. We did a similar Med cruise last year and this brings back happy memories, thanks a ton...:)

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    Hey Gabrielle, I am going to Rome with my husband and our 2 boys (13 & 14) in October this year. LOVED reading your report and feel even more excited. It was great to walk along with you from place to place, and it made me realize just being in this amazing city will be enough.
    Thank you for writing this,
    MP

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