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Amazing Two Week Family Trip to Italy!

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Amazing Two Week Family Trip to Italy!

I can close my eyes and almost imagine that we are still there! Our trip was everything that I had hoped it would be and so much more! Our family of four: myself, DH and two boys (ages 12 and almost 9) had a truly grand adventure. My heart-felt thanks to many of you on this board who helped me create our trip!

Almost a year ago, my husband and I started to plan this trip. We had traveled to Europe several times, but this was our first European adventure for our children. At first, we booked a Mediterranean cruise, but then as I looked into excursions, I couldn’t imagine visiting Rome, Florence, etc. for just a few hours. I wanted to watch my children play in the great Piazzas of Italy and to stroll through it’s cobble-stoned streets late at night arm and arm with my three boys. Thanks to your encouragement, I changed our plans and I am so thrilled that I did. Most of the information in my trip report is not new – I duplicated many of your hotels, restaurants, etc., but I learned so much from the trip reports of others that I hope I can do the same for someone else. I apologize in advance for the incessant use of the words: amazing, magical and fantastic – but every day of our two week adventure was exactly that! I can still feel the magic and I hope it never wears off!

ROME – Day One

We arrive on May 31 via AA from Chicago at 7:50 a.m. We were all far too excited to really sleep on the plane. We had read our guide books, Magic Tree House books, watched the History Channel, Ben Hur and Roman Holiday. The long-awaited flight was finally here! My 8 year old declared that he was going to sleep the entire flight so that he would be fresh when we arrived in Rome – he slept the last 30 minutes of the flight. As we approached Rome, flying over the mountains, then the hills, then past the cruise ships in port, I had tears in my eyes (okay, I am a complete corn ball). We zipped through customs – the boys couldn’t wait to see the stamp on their passports – I think even the customs official was amused with them!

After reading and hearing about all the horrors of gypsies and thieves in the Rome airport, we felt prepared to face the gauntlet. We tried to prepare the kids for what may seem like chaos, but to no avail. There was a strong police presence at the airport and we found Giacarlo from www.romeshuttlelimousine.com very easily. For 35 Euro Giacarlo helped us with our luggage and transported us in his Mercedes for the 30 minute trip into Rome. All of our noses were almost up against the window enthralled as we approached the Eternal City. Once again, Giacarlo helped us with our luggage as we exited in front of the Albergo Cesari (www.albergocesari.it). The lovely and friendly staff of the hotel informed us that our room was not ready, so we stored our luggage and began our adventure!

As you know, the Cesari is located about one block from the Pantheon, so our youngest son led us on our first adventure – around the corner to Nice Ice for their first gelato and then to stare in amazement at the Pantheon, then a few blocks to the Trevi Fountain! Wow – we have only been in Rome a little over an hour. Someone later in our trip mentioned that they were disappointed with the Trevi Fountain, but I couldn’t even imagine being disappointed. I found it to be moving and exhilarating. We visited the fountain every day that we were in Rome and at every possible time of day – amazing! The 8 year old did not want to rest until we visited the Mouth of Truth – so began the long trek down the Via del Corso, around the right side of the Monumento a Vittorio Emanelle II, around ancient Roman ruins to the Santa Maria Maggiore. Yes, we all stuck our hands in the mouth of truth – took a few pictures – and then stood in awe at the mosaics within the church. On our way back to the hotel, we took a quick stop for a pizza and something cold to drink. The little pizzeria was located on the corner across from the church beside the Roman ruins. We sat outside – the pizza was fantastic. We felt a bit fatigued, so we walked back and thanks to the wonderful double paned windows of the hotel and great air conditioning, took a very peaceful two hour nap.

For dinner, we made reservations at Trattoria Armando al Pantheon (www.armandoalpantheon.it). We had the antipasto of fried zucchini flowers, buffalo mozzarella cheese and prosciutto – I have died and gone to heaven! For dinner, I have the pasta with pecorino, asparagus and strawberries – amazing! DH had the lamb – we share a bottle of wine and the boys have spaghetti. This was one of the best meals we had anywhere in Italy! Great staff and well priced! I can’t believe what wonderful gentlemen my boys have become!

With bellies full, we were ready to walk to Piazza Navona to view Bernini’s Four River’s Fountain, to imagine the chariot races, listen to the guitar player playing a Sting song, ooh and ahhh over the art and to watch our children play and play. I am totally enchanted with this night – magical! Then we walked a few blocks to take in the Pantheon at night. Again, DH and I sit by the fountain and watch our boys play around the two thousand year old columns of the Pantheon – somebody pinch me! Our second gelato of the day comes from Giolitti’s and enjoyed by the Trevi Fountain (the boys like the crema on top of the gelato). We could not have enjoyed more wonder, joy and excitement in our first day in Roma!

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