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Dina4's Family Adventure: FRANCE and ITALY trip report

Dina4's Family Adventure: FRANCE and ITALY trip report

Jul 13th, 2006, 08:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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We our own "A&D tour". DS had a list of what he wanted to see and I'd fit it in when we were in the neighborhood. My son also looked and looked for the marker at St. Peter's. I think he concluded that it was near a fountain that always had a baricade around it.
missypie is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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"DS had a list of what he wanted to see and I'd fit it in when we were in the neighborhood."
--That's exactly what we did.

My son will feel better when I tell him you couldn't find the marker at St. Peter's either. We didn't notice a barricaded fountain, though. oh well.

I was just pleased that the book inspired him to enjoy Rome in such an active way!
dina4 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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WE failed to find the Donatello in the chuch on the capitoline hill - all the guide books tell you where it is, but could we spot it? so my kids, aged 15 & 18, never got to tick off all the 4 teenage mutant hero turtles!!!!! They still talk about that.
annhig is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 02:41 PM
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I also love the Galleria Borghese and it is on my don't-miss list. We went there our first day in Rome and were quite jet-lagged, but we still really enjoyed it. Thank you for the information about the restaurant in the park - definitely somewhere I will want to go next time!

Don't worry about taking so long - I love all the details! And what fun to celebrate Italy's victory!

Thanks so much for all the information and for sharing your wonderful experiences.

LCBoniti is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 07:00 PM
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Annhig-- that is so funny about the ninja turtles!

Linda-- I can't imagine that you wouldn't love that restaurant in the Borghese. Everything about it was spectacular!

I have to go to a work dinner tonight. I promise I will finish tomorrow!
dina4 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 07:27 PM
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Haven't finished your whole report yet about 1/2 way thru but wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying it after hitting alot of the same spots this year.Bookmarking to finish the rest.
laartista is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Thanks laartista.
I had loved your trip report and thought of you in southern france when you got stopped by those police officers after doing nothing! My husband accidentally ran a red light, but the officer pulled up, rolled down his window, and said, "Sir, red means stop." And then he rolled up his window and took off. Phew....
dina4 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:24 AM
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Phew! is right.Glad you had such a great trip.Any photos? Did I miss them? Gosh I feel like a picture whore.
laartista is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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I have over 200 photos, but I'm embarassed to say that I don't know how to post them!! I really don't know where to begin, and frankly, I barely have time to finish this report, let alone tackle a new project! Maybe when things settle down, I'll try to figure out.

Our next day in Rome included a very pleasant surprise, and I'm eager to get busy writing about it.
dina4 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 11:41 PM
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DAY 16 – Our last full day in Rome.

So I was bit frustrated on our last morning when I found out the taxis were still on strike. We had too much we wanted to do spread all over the city. Even though we had really enjoyed being with the grandparents, they definitely slowed our sightseeing down a bit.

That was when our luck changed…
As we walked out of the hotel, a charming older man appeared before us with a gleaming, air-conditioned BMW offering to give us a tour of Rome and take us anywhere we wanted to go for 45 euro an hour. I don’t think we hesitated for a second.

He turned out to be the Italian version of the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. He was SO proud of his heritage and his city, and had been a tour guide for 48 years. Below is the list of places we visited with Remo:

1. Santa Maria della Vittoria --
We went to see Bernini’s ECSTASY OF ST. TERESA. We were all on a Bernini kick, plus it was on my son’s “Angels and Demons” list. The statue is beautiful, but the church was lovely, too.

2. Santa Maria degli Angeli –
This was on Remo’s insistence. We had never heard about it. He explained that the Termini train station was named “Termini” because it was next to the “terme” or baths-- specifically, the Terme di Diocleziano, which could accommodate 3000 people at a time! (It was just like the movie… “Do you know where the word Termini comes from?”.... same accent, mannerismsm and everything, I swear!) From the outside, this church looks like an ancient building or part of a ruin. Michelangelo was actually commissioned to convert the interior into a church. It is just gorgeous! Remo was SO proud to share it with us!

3. Church of San Clemente --
Remo waited in the car for us here. We were sorry we didn’t have a guide, as everyone else seemed to have one. I consider this a must see. It was fascinating walking down through the 3 levels of history. All 4 of us loved the experience. We just read from our guidebook and got a lot out of it.

4. Aventine Hill – the famous “keyhole” view in the green gate.
Wow! We all knew exactly what we would see before we looked, but we were still all stunned. I highly recommend this. The neighborhood is beautiful, too.

5. Trastevere-
This was an area we really wanted to explore and dine in, especially at night. But it was just to far for our group to get to without a taxi. We were happy Remo at least drove us through.

6. Gianicolo Hill –
AMAZING views from this gorgeous neighborhood of all of Rome. This also was Remo’s wonderful idea of a detour on our way to the Vatican. Remo also pointed out the house that Michelangelo lived in (marked by a plaque).

7. St. Peter’s Square—
We had visited St. Peter’s and the Vatican Musuem two years ago, and our plans were to do the Scavi Tour and climb the dome. We got our Scavi reservations but had to give them up because they changed the rule and wouldn’t issue a ticket for our 13 yr old daughter. We didn’t climb the dome because it was just too hot and the line seemed really long. We just enjoyed the square, as we were on our Bernini theme, and looked unsuccessfully for the “Angels and Demons” “air” marker my son wanted to fine near the obelisk.

8. Ancient entrance to the circus under Piazza Navona—
Hadn’t seen this in all the times we’ve walked in Piazza Navona. Remo pointed it out. It’s about a block away on the north side. Definitely a fascinating thing to see and yet another excellent example of the layers of Roman history on top of eachother!

This is where we said goodbye to Remo.

We looked for Baffeto, recommended on this board for excellent pizza, but they open only for dinner! Too bad, but we popped in another place—COCO AND MIMI, and had a great lunch. Then to TRE SCALINI for gelato, more strolling, a little shopping, and back to the hotel to pack.

On our last night, we had yet another great dinner, although much cheaper, at IL POMODORINO, a few blocks east of Via Veneto on Via Compana and across the street from the “old wall” of Rome. The 4 of us had a huge salami and cheese platter, fried zucchini blossoms (stuffed with cheese and anchovies!!!), a huge pasta, 2 pizzas, 2 cokes, 4 large bottled waters, a beer, and a limoncello for… 64 euros! (I still don’t know how that was possible.) Everything was excellent.

One last stroll, one last gelato, and off to bed.

It had been a great day. I was really sorry not to have seen Michelangelo’s Moses, climb St. Peter’s dome, and visit the Capitolene Musuems on this trip, but we had to just go with the flow. There were things we saw and experienced that we didn’t expect to , and I guess that’s what makes people want to keep traveling in the first place.
dina4 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Forgot to mention that we arranged for Remo to take us to the airport in the morning. He charged 70 euro, wherease the hotel wanted 95 euro to arrange a car for us. He arrived early and cheerful. We would definitely use him again.
dina4 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 08:52 AM
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Thank you so much for such an enjoyable trip report! I am using much of your information for my upcoming trip with DH. We love Rome and can't wait to experience it again.

How nice that your kids had so much fun in Europe! Travelling with your children allows them to have wonderful memories to build on for the rest of their lives.

Thanks again for the report-especially the part about the restaurant in the gardens of the Borghese. We will definitely check that out!
vickio is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Dina, what a great report! I can't wait to go back to Rome, and definitely have to go to Galleria Borghese (in two trips I missed it, once because I overslept and didn't feel very well and once because a storm took out their electricity), and I'll have to try that restaurant in the park.
SusanP is offline  
Jul 15th, 2006, 07:51 PM
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Hi susanp and vickio,

Thanks so much for your comments. It took me so long to write the report, and even though I have read so many trip reports, I was really worried about the right amount of information to include.

Rome really is an amazing city. I loved it even more the second time I visited, and I can't wait to go back a 3rd time. I really wish I could afford to go more often.
dina4 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Hi Dina4 ~
So happy to read of your journey, what great detail your report has, I feel as if I am there!

Thank you so much for taking the time, it really is wonderful!

Tiff is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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Dina4, I envy your last day guide! Our family didn't hate Rome, but didn't love it either. I've said that if I ever returned to Rome, I'd hire a driver to take me to all the further flung churhes that I didn't get to the first time! Sounds like you got a bit of that.
missypie is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 12:46 PM
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I enjoyed reading about your travels to Paris. My husband and I will be in Paris in a couple of weeks with our three kids (14, 14, and 12). Your report has me filled with excitement! Did you find that you had no problem skipping the lines with your museum passes, even though your children did not have a pass? I hope that was the case as it seems silly to pay for passes when the kids would be free. Having said that, I an eager to skip the lines! Thanks for the info.
ambergirl is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 12:57 PM
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Hi dina4,
Really enjoying your trip report!
Thank you much!
QueSeraSera is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 01:14 PM
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Hi dina -
I was out of town for the weekend and really enjoyed reading about your last day in Rome upon my return this morning.

I agree - there is simply too much to see in Rome. One really needs time to do it justice. It seems, though, that you really loved it, is that right? I know I did and I so look forward to returning. (Romesick, as another poster called it.)

How serendipitous for you to find Remo and that he made your tour so enjoyable. I was very impressed by the pride so many Romans and Florentines take in their beautiful cities - and with reason, of course!

Thank you so much for a lovely trip report. Great experiences and really useful information.

LCBoniti is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 07:28 AM
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You must be so excited about your upcoming trip!

You should NOT buy museum passes for the kids. No one ever questioned our kids skipping lines. (And my 13 and 16 year olds could easily pass for 18 year olds.) Just remember that you still have to wait in line to climb the tower at Notre Dame.

I think another great benefit is it allows you to do a museum quickly that you might not have wanted to wait in line for and pay. (for example, we were tired and just popped into Les Invalides to see Napolean’s tomb.)

We also didn’t use the museum pass for Versailles but bought the pass at the metro station that includes your train ride and your entrance (something like 21 euro). We only bought train tickets for the kids (not Versailles passes), as they got in free and skipped the line. Again, no questions asked. And the lines are LONG! We did have to purchase entrance tickets to the garden for the kids, though, because it was Saturday when they run the fountains, but there weren’t any lines.

My one regret was that we didn’t do the fat tire bike tour early in the week. We waited, and then I realized we had seen almost everything on the tour, so we skipped it. I think the kids would have loved it, and it would have been a great introduction to the city.

I hope you have a fantastic trip!
dina4 is offline  

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