The other day my son asked me why I didn’t write anything about our trip to Rome back in October. He said he thinks of these posts as a personal history book of our vacations and he was looking forward to reading it. Well, if that wasn’t motivation enough to sit down and document the trip, I don’t know what would be. Sometimes when you’re raising teenagers it’s hard to know if you’re reaching them or if they even like you anymore. You’ve got to take these moments as they come. He liked this trip! He likes me! I’m going to write about it.
My daughter is spending her first semester at Northeastern University studying abroad and I have to say college ain’t like it used to be. She’s out there drinking prosecco and eating gourmet meals when back in the day I was downing 50 cent drafts at the Sunset Room and was excited about the 7 kinds of (dry) cereal I could get in the dining hall. In fact, a recent impromptu gathering of old college friends had us waxing nostalgic about ramen noodles and warm Buds smuggled into dank triple-double dorm rooms under the cover of darkness and oversized Champion sweatshirts.
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live a little vicariously through a modern-day college girl and also sort of wanted to experience first hand what our hard-earned 529 was funding so we went for a quick visit this past fall. Here’s what we did:
The first thing I did was take this picture because I felt like it was an accurate enough capture of the entire vibe in Rome. So actually this blog post could be just one image with a simple caption but I do tend to be a bit long winded, so never mind. I’ll keep going.
Even on my best days I’m not really sure what I’m taking pictures of. I’m not good at research plus I have a terrible memory and this was months ago. All I know is I loved all of these ancient buildings. Rome has PLENTY of those. Who could remember all of them? If it’s you, don’t tell me because then I’ll have to be embarrassed.
In any event it would be super embarrassing if I didn’t know this was Trevi Fountain. Trevi Fountain is beautiful and there were a lot of people there. A LOT of people.
On our first day we were really jet lagged and because we couldn’t check into our AirBnB for hours and hours and more very hot hours (inserting a bit of drama for effect) we were looking for a shady spot to rest our weary bones. We found this hidden courtyard behind an old church (there are lots of old churches) and it was a perfect spot for a tiny catnap.
And speaking of cats, this is the Roman Cat Sanctuary or Cat City. It’s not really a cat sanctuary but it’s overrun by cats so everyone calls it that, according to my daughter, the local. Also still floored by these ancient ruins like this that exist on the edge of of roundabout, next to a McDonalds. So crazy.
And this is the Pantheon by night! See I know this one too. I’m amazed we stayed up late enough to see this in the dark, but no one goes to bed before 2:00 am in Rome, so you just gotta go with the flow, even if you haven’t slept in 36 hours.
Time to BeReal! (isn’t is always, though?) Also this restaurant was so good — the spaghetti vongole was amazing. I don’t normally take pictures of food, but in this place I should have. You’ll just have to imagine how good it was and admire my cute kids. Aren’t they so cute?
Day 2 we started at Piazza Navona (getting so good at these landmarks!) Doesn’t she look right at home here? I think this was the moment I wondered why the heck I didn’t study abroad when I was in college and also started to worry that she might not ever want to come back to Boston.
She missed her brother though, I can tell (and he missed her). For real.
I did take a picture of this coffee but I’m not sure why. It wasn’t even that memorable, aside from the fact that all coffee in Rome is pretty great.
I’d say that there was a role reversal going on here and she was taking the lead and showing us around the city for a change, but actually I’m terrible with directions and she’s been leading the way in new cities for years. She pretends to be exasperated by the fact that I can’t read a map but she probably thinks it’s super cute. Wouldn’t you think it was super cute if your travel companion kept getting you lost?
One thing we learned pretty quickly is that it’s ALWAYS Spritz Time in Rome.
In Rome you’re either drinking an Aperol Spritz or drinking coffee, or eating pizza or eating pasta or walking to do any of those four things.
Or you’re visiting some super famous landmark that’s been around for thousands of years. Here we are at the Spanish Steps after finishing lunch which consisted of pizza and or pasta, a Spritz and coffee.
Can I be honest here? I’m not sure what the big deal is about these steps. They are supposed to be the most famous steps in the world. But why? I must be missing something. They just seemed like steps to me.
A palm tree! I was surprised by how many palm trees there were in Rome. I probably shouldn’t have been but I was (lack of research, etc.)
Night 2 the kids took us out on the town. Weird but good. Really, really good. It’s a great feeling to see your kids happy and meet the people that make them happy. My son looks like he’s in college too but he’s only 14. Which reminds me, one night we were at a restaurant and the waiter told us that only the men could order the steak because it was man food. This was disturbing because 1) he thought my son was a man and because 2) omg.
The girls live in Trastevere which is an adorable neighborhood with a million amazing restaurants, a jillion hip bars, and a few cute shops (eating and drinking are definitely a priority). With all of these distractions it’s a miracle they even go to class. Tell me they go to class. Please.
If you know me, or if you’ve been reading for a while you know one thing I always do when I’m somewhere new is wake up annoyingly early and take a long run. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land and see things you might otherwise miss. One morning I ran up and down the banks of the Tiber. A lot of it is covered with graffiti and trash but this particular view struck me as very poignant for some reason. The curve of the river and the lady in her long dress. Something about it reminded me of my 9th grade ancient civilization textbook. Running along the Tiber! When I was 14 I would never have believed that I’d ever be doing that.
I also ran down some cobblestone streets trying to find my way back to the AirBnB. Not so easy actually. But beautiful!
And this is the street we stayed on (I found it!) and here is some of the graffiti I mentioned. I’m actually surprised that more of these photos don’t feature graffiti because the city is 90% covered in it. It adds something. Charm might be the wrong word. Character? Yes, it adds character.
Here’s another beautiful street that I’m including because I really like this picture- the bicycle, the little Knome, the lack of graffiti.
Here’s a question I’ve always wondered. Is a club where you go to pick up people a meat market or a meet market? I always thought it was meat market, but after seeing this I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.
These guys are really hoping for an iPhone 14 Pro for Christmas.
And here’s a picture of two dogs because I love dogs. The one lying on the road belonged to the local gelato shop and I think he honestly lives the best life ever. He just prowls around waiting for people who aren’t eating their gelato fast enough to drip some melty bits on the ground. Then he licks it off the cobblestones that probably 4 million people walked on and has absolutely no regrets about it. Then he shamelessly rolls over and demands (and gets!) some belly rubs. I envy him.
These guys again? Yep, sorry. I just really, really like these guys.
Here’s a picture of Julius Caesar. Or a statue of him anyway. Because it’s Rome and well, you know the story.
What is this place? Let’s google it.
Just kidding! We all knew it was the Colosseum. Pretty impressive, right? Very Roman if you ask me.
The Forum. I was really blown away by this site. The fact that this still exists, thousands of years later is honestly just amazing and so powerful. It really makes you think about just how very small we are, and what a teeny, tiny role we have in history. The people who strolled around here in their togas and sandals would never ever in a million years believe how the world is today. They didn’t even know about pizza! But yet, their mark remains…
I should have added this picture after the Vatican picture but these calendars were everywhere and ironically (or purposefully) not found in Vatican City. I think it’s probably the strangest and therefore most awesome souvenir I’ve ever come across. There is just something so very, very wrong about a sexy priest pinup calendar. Or is it me? I dunno. I felt like it would be a sin to buy one (or NOT buy one). Which was it for me? I’ll never tell…
Ah to be young and beautiful and living in Rome. I mean you DO want your kids to have it better than you did, but we may have overdone it here, just a tad. It leads me to wonder what my son’s first year of college is going to be like. He’ll probably get to pay a visit to the moon or something.
Normally the line for the Pantheon was wrapped around a few blocks so early on we decided to simply admire it from the outside. But one morning the square was empty and no one was waiting so we went in so here it is! I don’t have a lot to say about it except, when in Rome…
I could go on and on, but alas all good things must come to an end. Rome is chaotic and beautiful and has a life all its own– full of sights and sounds and people, and more people, It was really fantastic to experience it through the eyes of someone just beginning to find her place in the world, who is suddenly independent and navigating outside the comfortable confines of our family home. It was a fun trip for us and an amazing experience for her and I have to wonder, what will she take away from this, where will she go next, and can we tag along?