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5000 stairsteps, 40 ciao bellas, 12 trains, 8 pizzas, 3 women, 1 report

5000 stairsteps, 40 ciao bellas, 12 trains, 8 pizzas, 3 women, 1 report

Old Jun 7th, 2013, 08:26 PM
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Love your trip report so far! My mom and I are headed to Italy in 10 days for our dream trip. I'm 39 and she's 62 so we're a generation older. I have two girls ages 6 & 8 and I can't wait to take a trip like this with them someday. I also can't believe I'm leaving them behind with my husband for two weeks! The pictures are great! We're starting in Venice and flying out of Rome. We will be staying in Vernazza among other places along the way. Keep the report coming!
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 10:29 PM
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What a lovely looking trio you are! Your photos are also lovely. I'm especially waiting for the Venice segment, but enjoying your refreshing style of writing.

Cheers.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 12:56 AM
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Love your report so far. You three girls look like models!!!
We are headed to Rome next week. Can't wait and thanks for the tips!
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 12:56 AM
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More please...loving your trip report..
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 03:07 AM
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That definitely helps, thank you. I see we are starting too late to book a place too (going in September). I wrote to one last night in Vernazza and a couple in Manarola and they are all completely booked for our dates. Wow!
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 04:53 AM
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Our driver was so kind and gave us all candies as we got in the car. >>

smug - for some reason I read that as "candles" - which was a tad confusing.

you're right about the umbrella sellers - where do they come from? a very useful, and polite (!) phrase for getting rid of them, and any other hawkers is "non ne voglio, grazie" meaning "I don't want one/any, thank you."

keep it coming!
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 08:17 AM
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Thanks again to everyone for your kind comments! You are being so gracious and encouraging and I'm happy that this is perhaps helpful for some of you planning trips and bringing back memories for others.

We all slept well and slept late. Woke feeling a million times better. We had nothing planned today except for a 3:00 reservation at the Borghese gallery. We had plenty of time just to relax and wander. This ended up being our favorite day in Rome. The weather was cool, but the sun was shining.

We started out by walking over to Campo Dei Fiori and observing all the goings on. After a stop for our first cappuccini of the trip we watched a man selling a tool that cuts vegetables in all kinds of ingenious ways. We quickly realized that WE could never make that little plastic thing do what HE was making it do, but he was quite the showman!

Next was Piazza Navona. The girls adored it and we spent quite a bit of time here observing the fountains and all the tourists. We were even lured into one of the touristy restaurants on the square with the promise of free champagne. Yes, we are easy. However, we didn't have a full meal there. We had a gelato and a risotto with cheese and strawberries. Odd flavor, but somehow good. We had decided beforehand that rather than sit for a full lunch we would spend the day snacking through Rome and that's exactly what we did!

This was about the time that I realized that my daughters were going to be popular among the Italian men. Actually I suspect that *all* young women are popular among the Italian men! If I was with them it was fine. The minute they got ahead or behind me or walked off by themselves it started up, ciao bella, how are you? Nobody was ever threatening, just sometimes a little too appreciative. However, the minute "mama" arrived they backed down. It became a bit of a joke - oh, mama is here. I told the girls that they needed to quit being their usual friendly, smiling selves and quit making eye contact and never acknowledge the attention. We observed how the Italian women do it, they put their head up and walk by as if to say, "yes, I'm beautiful, but I'm certainly not going to give *you* the time of day." By the end of the trip Em and El had learned to put on an air of Italian woman indifference with the best of them.

Next was the Spanish steps. We passed through this area on our way to the Borghese Gallery. It was fun seeing the expensive shops and the crowds and the sinking boat fountain. There was some type of political something going on. Lots of chanting and banner carrying. We never could figure out what was exactly happening. One of the girls commented about the spanish steps, "but, but, it's just steps!" Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

We went to the top and into the Borghese park and meandered slowly to the Borghese Gallery. We all adored it. Definitely a highlight of the trip. We did a self-guided tour with a book that I had - saw the highlights, marveled at the Bernini sculptures, fell in love with the work of Carvaggio. It was wonderful and two hours was the perfect amount of time. We never felt crowded or rushed. This is a gallery that leaves you energized rather than exhausted. Very important to make a reservation, however at our 3:00 appointment it seemed that most of those who showed up to see if there was space available were able to get in. I suspect that this would not be true in the morning.

From there it was back through the spanish steps and over to Trevi fountain. It was here that the cultural differences in crowd behavior and turn taking really began to be apparent. I had warned the girls about the crowds, but even so they were a little shocked. We did finally manage to get aggressive enough to take our obligatory photos and we are glad we did, but Trevi is one of those places that feels a little sad to me. Perhaps I'm weird. I love so many things about this fountain - the way that it sits in such an unprepossessing place, the way you have to walk down small roads to get to it, and the way you can hear it before you see it and then bam! there it is in all it's white marble, pouring water glory. But, after a minute it's all a little sad. A British tourist looked at me and said, "tell me why exactly we are doing this?"

From Trevi it was over to the Pantheon. Ahhh. Wonderful. Astounding. Amazing. We all loved it.

I highly recommend a coffee break at Tazza D'Oro (just near the Pantheon) for caffe granita con panna. Oh my, if you like cold coffee definitely try one of these! For those who don't know (like us at the time) you place your order, pay, get a ticket, and *then* take that to the coffee counter. Not the other way around.

Finally it was back to the room to get ready for dinner.

Uh oh. Dinner this evening was where we made our biggest food blunder of the trip. Rather than getting a recommendation or using one of my foodie apps we went to a place near our apartment. It was late by the time we got out and the weather was turning cold and the wind was starting to blow and none of us wanted to get too far away. In addition, we were literally the only non-Italians in the restaurant so we thought we would be ok. Nope. Worst meal of the trip. One of my daughters had lasagna and it was horrible. Nothing we had was good. Lesson learned. I honestly don't remember the name of the place, but even if I did I'm not sure I would tell it. The owner was so kind and we walked by him often and every time he spoke and was out working, working so hard, but dude...get a new chef.

Went to sleep excited about our underground tour of the Colosseum the next morning.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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KayTKay
Grazie for your wonderful report. What a lovely time you had with your daughters-a trip of a life time as you will never be at this time again in your lives-and a lifetime of memories.
I leave Monday for Rome, Tuscany and Venice and am getting more excited to be there reading about your trip.
Thanks for the reminder about how to order...I once paid for my food then promptly left without it as my hands were already full with things I had already picked up for my picnic.
Thanks for the heads up on the Trevi fountain, I will try and get there early (or very late?) so that magic of the fountain is not shadowed by crowds of people.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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Loving your report! Keep it coming!
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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i love your report too. please continue.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 05:54 AM
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Loving your report. Great information and beautiful photos. Beautiful family. I think I remember your earlier trip report.........Italy with your husband for your 25th anniversary. It was extremely well written too and I remember how much I enjoyed reading it.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 06:04 AM
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We had a Walks of Italy Tour planned for this morning - the Colosseum Underground Tour. We knew that we would be doing a lot of walking and standing this day so rather than walk to the Colosseum we decided to save our legs and take a taxi from the nearby taxi stand to the meeting point for the tour. There was a transportation strike this day so busses and the Metro weren't running.

Really enjoyed Walks of Italy. Our tour guide was energetic and full of knowledge. She was an archeologist and had been a tour guide for over a decade. We spent most of the tour in a group of about 12 coming together only for the last part in the Colosseum. We had to wear headsets which for the most part worked well. However, while we were in the forum I took mine off because I could hear perfectly well there without them.

We started in the forum and Palantine Hill. We all enjoyed this part of the tour. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Roman history is a little slimmer than it ought to be! There were moments when I was a little lost. The girls, who have taken world history much more recently than I have, did better with this part. Still, walking on those stones, seeing the ruins, hearing the stories, you start to be able to rebuild and repopulate the place in your mind.

It was a sunny day, but cool and the wind was howling. One of my daughters wore a loose, flippy dress and as we arrived at the Colosseum she was being driven to distraction trying to hold that thing down so as not to flash the whole world with her underthings. And it seemed as if the whole world was at the Colosseum!

As we bypassed the lines we were grateful to be on a tour. The group which had been split between two guides now came back together and we entered the Colosseum through the door of the dead and onto the platform. We were the only group out there. From there we went to the bottom level of the Colosseum, what would have been underneath the floor. Fascinating! The other guide took over here as this was his area of expertise. He was really able to make this part of the history come alive as we saw where the animal cages where and how they were hoisted to the top floor, talked about the celebrity status of the gladiators, etc. My daughters loved this part of the tour - as did I.

Then it was up to the top level. So high up, great views. This was mostly a stop for photos ops, but worth the climb. Speaking of the climb: If you take this tour - there are a lot of stairs in the Colosseum and they are steep and worn and there is way more height between each step than we are used to. I thought people back then were supposed to be shorter than we are now! I confess I was clinging to the rail on the way down as the treads seem to lean precariously forward. The guides said that this was so that people were "vomited" more quickly out of the stadium.

We would definitely recommend this tour. It lasted just over 4 hours and it is indepth and you will be standing the vast majority of the time so take all that into consideration. We had a family on our tour with three children and I know the two youngest were bored although they were still incredibly well behaved.

After our tour we walked to the Jewish Ghetto for lunch at Da Ghetto. We were at the tail end of artichoke season and I wanted to try one of their fried artichokes. It was too windy to use their outdoor dining so we were indoors in their crowded, but atmospheric dining area. Unfortunately we were seated next to one of the loudest talking tourists ever! So over the top. His companion shushed him a couple of times, but goodness gracious. I was trying to give him some grace and whispered to the girls that perhaps he was hard of hearing, but sheesh.

Anyway, our artichoke arrived and we loved it so that was a consolation. All the food was wonderful here. Everything we saw served to anyone else (and we were watching) looked delicious. Even just the simple pasta dishes were perfect. I'm a gnocchi addict so I had gnocchi with tomato sauce, El had ravioli with truffle sauce, and Em had spinach ravioli with red sauce. All terrific.

We wandered this area and decided it was one of our favorites. So many great restaurants and little bakeries and interesting things to see around every corner. Just beautiful. Fun atmosphere.

We shopped our way home down Via Giubbonari. Great shopping street with some interesting clothing and shoe stores. The girls got serious about their shopping, trying on various items. They only ended up with a scarf each and El got a pair of pants. We saw lots of jeans/pants that had skinny legs, sit on the hips and are baggy and pleated at the top. Odd. And not a good look for anyone but the skinniest. There was a great little dress store - perhaps called DaDaDa? I might have that wrong, but it was something along that line. Adorable, funky dresses, vintagy looking.

Dinner that night was in Trastevere at a restaurant recommended by the hotel. Hosteria del Moro. The restaurant was just ok. Trastevere was amazing. It was Friday evening and the place was hopping, busy, and young. Our apartment was only about a 5 minute, very pleasant walk across the bridge from Trastevere and we wished we had come her sooner. It was too cold to sit outside so we were seated inside near a window. At one point a little parade came by, music and dancing and chanting...perhaps something else political? We never found out.

El did not like what she ordered from this restaurant. The waiter noticed that she had eaten very little and asked if she hadn't liked it. She answered, "no, I didn't love it." He teased her a bit about it and then offered to bring her something different. She told him that she had shared with us (the portions were large) and was no longer hungry. He took her meal off our bill and brought us free dessert. Very considerate and definitely not the only time we found the restaurateurs in Italy to be extremely concerned that we had enjoyed our meal.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 06:36 AM
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Fantastic report!

I like your take on packing light and comfortable shoes. Most people learn that after several trips. And you sure packed a good attitude---that flight was enough to put anyone in a slump.

Your photos are excellent and the stories to go with them informative and so entertaining. I definitely will be following along on the rest of your trip.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 06:41 AM
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I've really enjoyed your trip report. Just the right amount of detail and a breezy writing style. Keep it coming.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 08:58 AM
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I have Elizabeth Minchilli's apps too. Did you have a particular menu translator app that was useful? Thanks!
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 09:09 AM
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on for the ride
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 09:43 AM
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What a great read! I just found this and am enjoying it totally. How lovely that you and your daughters were able to do this together. And, you are so right about re-living one's trip when writing and/or reading about it.

More please, soon!
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 12:05 PM
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nwheel - yes, that was me! You have a great memory. For some reason Fodors made me re-register recently and I had to change my name.

AndiM - there are fewer menu translator apps than you might imagine! The one I have is called Foodictionary. I can't really address how its usefulness I didn't actually use it much. The waiters almost always spoke English (and I speak a little Italian) and they were willing to describe any dish or ingredient that we didn't recognize.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 12:26 PM
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Brilliant - utterly brilliant!!!!! You have made my Sunday night
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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Navigating: I mentioned the Streetwise maps and how much we liked them, but the fact is that a map is only as good as the person using it. Do those of you who can reliably follow a map and get easily from place to place understand what a wonderful talent you possess? I'm not a navigator. at. all. No internal compass here. My daughter Em inherited this unfortunate characteristic. El on the other hand - she is a directional genius. A trait she inherited from her father. She took charge of navigating us through all the cities and did amazingly well. It seems to be almost instinctual for her. I think that she was better than her daddy at getting us around Venice. Em and I would have been constantly lost without her!

Gelato: We ate gelato every day. At least once. I can't say we ever encountered any *bad* gelato, but some places were better than others. Later on I'll mention the ones we liked best. I know Grom is a chain, but it was pretty good and it was close to our Rome apartment! Always a plus. Pretty good gelato is still better than no gelato.
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