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Call Me Crazy - I went to Italy with a Toddler , and Loved Every Moment (almost...) A Trip Report: Rome and Tuscany

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In early November, 2005, my husband (34 years), daughter (15 months) and I (27 years) went to Rome and Tuscany, spending a week in each location. I swore I would write a report as soon as I returned, and almost six months later, I am finally taking the time to follow through.

DH and I have been to Europe before: Scotland (myself at eighteen for three months), Netherlands, Belgium and France. It was our first time traveling with a child overseas,.

It is a bit crazy to travel with a young child. But watching my daughter grow those first few months showed me that I must live my life to the fullest and in the moment, because the future is too unpredictable to wait for. And my daughter is VERY easy going, rarely cried as a baby, so the idea of taking her on a plane seemed doable.

LUGGAGE

Our carry-on backpack days are over. We checked two bags and our car seat. We brought one carry-on and my purse. After reading all the posts about theft in Rome, I bought a travel bag at REI. It was large enough to carry all the day trip essentials and closed with a zipper and a flap with magnetic snaps. The strap was made from seatbelt material, overall, very durable, not too bulky, and not all that dorky. In hind sight, we never had any problem with anyone trying to take anything. Perhaps the theft rate is a bit over hyped.

AIRLINE

We chose British Air and bought two tickets in Economy Plus. The seats were comfortable, with enough leg room to stretch my legs out completely. Also, individual TV’s with several channels playing various movies and TV shows. If you travel with a little one on your lap, you must use the child seatbelt, which attaches to yours, and keep you child attached at all times. (Side note: a toddler lying on your lap for ten hours is not comfortable. If your little one will stay in the car seat, mine wouldn't, buy another seat.)

We changed plans in London, without any problems on either flight or in either airport. Parents with children get to bypass the security lines in Heathrow, which was a lovely bonus.

To make the flight livable, we booked a flight near her normal bedtime, ran her around SFO for two hours pre-flight, brought lots of extra snacks, new toys, books and Benedryl on the flight. The drugs worked wonderfully, she slept nine of the ten hours and my DH and I ate the snacks. Once we landed, our fellow travelers, thankful that that child they were stuck next to didn't utter a peep, finally looked us in the eye and made polite conversation.

At FCO, the airline or airport, who knows which, lost our stroller. (Huge bummer and the first of many items that we lost in Italy.) Thankfully, it was a cheap umbrella stroller and we brought a baby backpack as back up. A taxi waited for us at the airport, arranged for us by Natalia, who owned the apartment in Rome we booked for the week. (More about that in a minute.) Sergio, our driver, was fantastic. He was the perfect example of the Italian driver. We straddled two lanes, whipped in and out of rush hour traffic, and made left hand turns by literally blocking oncoming traffic so that they had no choice but to stop and let us finish our turn. DH sat in front with Sergio, and spent forty-five minutes peppering him with the lamest questions possible. I, as the researcher, had spent months trying to learn as much about Italian history, culture, language as possible and in addition, I spent months harping at my husband to learn something, anything, about where we were going. But no. He claimed he would be interested in Italy once we landed in Italy. So besides watching a few Italian movies and eating biscotti with our coffee in the morning, his mind was empty of info. So here I was, stuck in my first Italian taxi, listening to him make a complete fool of himself, and doing nothing positive to help the reputation of American tourists. But instead of whacking him upside the head, I promised to give Sergio a massive tip, and kept my mouth shut. (Side note: DH and I now laugh at about this incident. He claims that the thrill of travel overtook any common sense and regrets asking Sergio “how do you say, ‘where’s the toilet’ in Italian?”

THE ROME APARTMENT
www.dolceroma.com

I highly recommend Natalia and the apartment we stayed in (Campo dei Fiori). All her email responses were prompt, her website accurately describes the apartment we stayed in along with the extra services she supplies. Her description of the location as "animated" translates into loud. Across the street is a Vino bar that attracts anyone driving a Vespa, or at least is sounds that way, at 2am, listening to them unlock their massive bike chains and then start them up after a long evening drinking. Along with the chatter of bar life, which spills out onto the street, we had a hard time sleeping, with the windows and shutters closed. Only downside to the location. Also, you must pay in cash upon arrival.

Our first dinner was in the apartment and was a spattering of cookies, crackers, packaged toast with butter and jam, all provided by the apartment, free of charge. I know, extravagant, but we were so exhausted that night, we couldn't imagine leaving the apartment. (I wouldn't read this report for dining recommendations.)

More to Come…

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