to Rome and back...

The last day of school for the kids was a half day on the 18th. The very same day Grandma.Grandpa, Aunt Mo and her friend, bambi, arrived from the States for their visit.
We tucked our visitors in for some catch-up sleep and attended an end of the year pool party.
Thursday night we went out with our family to DaGreco's, an Italian restaurant to celebrate June birthdays, an anniversary and one very special graduate.

Friday and Saturday we spent exploring parts of Barcelona where Grandma unfortunately experienced first hand the stealth of Gypsy theifs who lifted her wallet and passport. After a whirlwind of police statements and phone calls we were reassured by Allitalia that we could indeed procede with our plans to leave at 6:25 Sunday morning.

And leave we did after a very early trip to the airport our flight to Roma was blissfully uneventful. We were met at the airport by our driver who whisked us away to check into our hotel, The Grand Hotel Del Gianicolo. It was early to check in so we left our bags and walked to a little cafe next door for some nourishment. We snacked on little pizzas, mozzarella and tomato sandwiches while we waited for our tourguide Giancarlo to join us.

It was a cloudy grey day, with showers occasionally threatening, but we didn't let that stop us. First stop was a small park near our hotel with a fantastic view of Rome.

Our group....

Our second stop was an area above the Forum.

We arrived too late to begin a tour of the Colloseum without crowds so we decided to forego our tour until the next day. We stopped for some pictures and our first glimpse of the grandeur.

Our next stop was St. Peter in Chains Basilica. Like most Basilicas in Rome it was a converted temple. Inside is the relic of the chains that held St. Peter while he was imprisoned.

Also in this basilica is a statue by Michealangelo, Moses. It depicts Moses as he descended from Mt. Sinai with the tablets to find his followers worshipping false gods.

It can't be conveyed in this picture but the fury in his face is palpable. You can see it travel his face as one side is more relaxed then the other.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain. It's absolutely breathtaking and probably my favorite spot of the tour.

Throwing coins to insure we'd return.

Nick's turn...

Me too.
On the side of the fountain sits this vase in front of a store. It's the store where Audrey Hepburn gets her haircut in Roman Holiday. While the fountain was being built the store owner would constantly complain about the noise and the dust. So the artist blocked his view for all eternity. It's the only store in the piazza without a view of the fountain.

Our visit happened to coincide with the Equinox. The Pantheon is a building with a dome ceiling with a hole in the center to let in light. At noon on the Equinox the circle throws the light in a particular way as to create a ring of light in a particular part of the floor. We were there. We waited with the crowds to see the spectacle...remember the clouds. The sun decided not to show up. So, maybe next year.

We walked around to see the statues and artwork.

The Renaissance painter Raphael is buried here.

us, outside.

We decided to take a break in a Piazza near the Campo de Fiore.

Jess and her gelato

Alexa and her gelato, sans peanuts. The first one was delivered with nuts on top.

The cafe had Joe in the name and the decor inside was centered around this Joe character. We couldn't resist a picture of our Joe next to the wall of Joes.

We finished our tour for the day and headed back to the hotel for a quick nap. We'd been up since 3 am. After our break we regrouped for dinner. We walked in the rain and wind down a winding road to an area called Trastevere, a quaint section of the city with restaurants and stores. We walked by the Tiber river.

Our guide, Giancarlo suggested a restaurant and we were planning on eating there. However, it didn't open until 8 pm and our party was hungry. So we found another small Italian eatery.

After dinner, Bambi, Maureen,Andrea, Alexa and I wandered a bit through the streets.

We found a wonderful piazza near the Basilica Santa Marie in Trastevere. We did some shopping and visited the basilica.

After shopping we wandered back up the hill to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning we rose bright and early for our tour of the Colloseum.

The kids in the Colloseum

Nick and Maureen
Grandma and Grandpa

Our guide Giancarlo providing valuable information on the history of the Colloseum.
The family...
wildflowers at the Colloseum.

The Arch of Constantine.

When we finished our tour of the Colloseum we went for a drive along the Appian way, and ancient roman road that still is in use today. We passed the roman wall...

Then we stopped at the Catacombs at San Sebastian. There is a Basilica built ontop of the catacombs.

Before Christianity, Romans would cremate their dead and placed them in small rooms underground. The wealthy had very ornate rooms. These were beautifully decorated and well preserved. With the spread of Christianity and the promise of Resurection when Christ returned the people wished to keep their bodies intact, thus requiring more room for burial and the catacombs developed. We didn't see any bodies, just lots of hewn out rock.
From there we went to Santa Sabina. There was a wall fountain there...

And beautiful views of the city...

From there we went to a small country owned by the Knights of Malta. If you look through the keyhole you can see something spectacular. Unfortunately it doesn't show up in the picture but I still think it looks cool. If you want to know you'll have to go for yourself...or ask the kids. They have no self control.lol

Our second afternoon we spent poolside enjoying the beautiful weather. We made it back to the restaurant the second night and had a truly spectacular dinner.
Our last day we spent in Vatican City.

The art there is amazing. There are pieces lined up everywhere and we didn't even get to the main galleries, just the ones that led to the Sistine Chapel. After years of studying the paintings and admiring the work in books, the chapel itself was smaller than I expected. The paintings were fabulous in person. You weren't supposed to take pictures although many many people were. I didn't.
St. Peter's Basilica was awe-inspiring. It's huge. It's beautiful and words fail to bring it to life adequately.The pictures of la Pieta didn't come out well at all.

the altar

the holy spirit
The papel porch...

And then we all headed back to the airport for our trip home. It went by so quickly but was so enjoyable. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it as much as we enjoyed experiencing it.
In case you want to see more of our photos...here is a link to our photobucket slideshow.
Love you all.