When my Dad and his fiancée booked a Mediterranean cruise out of Rome I decided to meet them out there for a couple days before they set sail. Originally we had planned to make it a long trip with stops along the Amalfi Coast, Naples , and Pompeii. Unfortunalty… the hubby was tasked for work in America- so the kids and I kept it simple by making it a Rome only trip.
We flew into Rome a day before my Dad arrived and checked into the Crown Plaza St. Peter’s. It’s a massive hotel a bit outside the city. It was comfortable, spacious, great pools and a good breakfast. I will say this isn’t a great place to stay if you want easy access to transportation. There isn’t much within walking distance and a taxi is your only option into the city center. For our needs it was perfect.
Day one we spent swimming at the pool and I took the boys out for their first Italian meal. This is all my kids really cared about- the pool. It was in the 90’s during our entire trip which is vastly different from the weather here in the U.K. Kellan of course finds a friend immediately and ignores his family while I chase Carter all over the place. No relaxing by the pool for Mama!
The next day we slept in a bit and had a leisurely breakfast while we waited for the grandparents to arrive. When they showed up they were pretty jet lagged and tired so we spent the majority of day 2 at the pool and having family time. I know what those long flights can be like!
Typically I am the planner of the family. I say where, when, how long- all of it. My husband isn’t picky and just trusts I will make our holidays fun (and naturally they are because I am the funnest ever). This trip was a first for me because my future mother in law made all the plans. It was really strange having someone else take control but she did a really great job making the most of our one full day in the city.
Rome is overwhelming. There is SO MUCH to see and do. It’s similar to London in the sense that you can live there and probably never see it all. So much history and architecture to be seen. So much food to be tasted.
We had a group of 7 including some friends Dad and Diana were cruising with. Diana booked us a Rome in a day tour and it was perfect for fitting in a lot of must see’s in one short day. They have all been to Rome before and obviously knew how overwhelming it is. The tour was a private air conditioned van that drove us to all the sites so that we had very minimal walking and we didn’t have to navigate ourselves. This saved so much time. It was really hot and the rumors are true- it’s not very stroller friendly. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any sidewalks at all. I did bring my stroller though and we made it work!
The first stop on our tour was the Colosseum. Yes- it’s as grand as you imagine it to be. Breathtaking. We got lucky and arrived on a day it didn’t seem to be too busy. I was expecting much worse. Nevertheless, the line was still long but Diana had booked us a private guide which ensured we passed the line. We walked around for about an hour with the guide giving us the history of what we were seeing. Everyone should have the Colosseum on their bucket list.
The next part of our tour was a little hurried because we were already behind on time. The guide walked us around to see the Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus (ancient stadium for chariot races), Palatine hill, Capitol Hill, and Roman forum. There is so much history and information in the area that one hour couldn’t do it justice. A pleasant surprise were all the fresh water wells to refill your water bottles. Of course my boys thought they were for playing.
After the Roman forum we hopped in our private van and the driver took us around to see some of the residential areas in the city and stopped for pictures at a few sites including the Aventine keyhole. This is a door with the keyhole designed to give you a picturesque view of the Vatican.
We also stopped at the Pantheon, an ancient temple that was built in dedication to the Romans gods. It’s arguably one of the best preserved buildings of its time in the world. We didn’t have enough time to tour the inside, sadly.
Our last stop before lunch was the Trevi fountain. It’s said that if you throw in one coin, you will be assured another trip to Rome. Two coins will ensure a new romance and 3 coins ensures a new marriage. I had Kellan throw in one coin because I would love to return!
There is an article floating around the internet with pictures comparing what famous sites are thought to be like and what they are actually like. It hit the nail on the head with this one. It’s hot. It’s extremely crowded. Everyone is taking selfies and trying there best to get family photos. Police are everywhere blowing whistles at the tourists getting too close to the water. It’s not the picturesque excursion where everyone is picnicking and eating gelato by the fountain. Regardless- it’s the Trevi fountain. It’s famous for a reason.
Our tour guide asked where we wanted to eat and we said “where you would take your family”. I’ve no idea the area or the name of the restaurant but we ended up at a great spot that seemed like it was geared towards local customers. Delicious!
After eating we had a few hours to spend at Vatican City. Not everyone may know this but it’s actually the smallest country in the world. I had done a bit of reading on what our visit would be like but nothing prepared me for what it was really like. There are no vehicles driving through and you cannot take a stroller. It felt like I was in a never ending labyrinth. It’s very overwhelming and very confusing. We actually lost a person in our group. Don’t worry, it was an adult- and yes, we found him.
Im thankful that it ended up being Carter’s nap time so I strapped him on my chest and he slept a good bit of the time. Kellan, however; did not like having to walk in the heat for so long (cue the whining).
This is the thing about Vatican City- this is not somewhere you want to be on a time constraint. We had a very specific time and place we had to meet our driver. Being that the others had already visited years before- I said I had to see the Sistine chapel. Well, you can’t just walk directly to the chapel. You are walking though museum after museum, what seems like maze after maze in order to get to it. Not an easy task on hurried time. It was really difficult to keep focused on the fact I had to get to the Sistine chapel and pass all of these historically significant and famous displays without so much as stopping to look. But I knew if I didn’t make it to the Sistine chapel I would forever regret it.
There is no doing the Vatican in 3 hours. A full day wouldn’t even do it justice. This is where I want to come kid free and read everything. Look at everything. No distractions. We did make it to the Sistine chapel thankfully. To enter you must be covering your knees and shoulders. I brought a large scarf to wrap myself in because there was no way I was going to spend the day wearing long pants in 90 degree heat with a toddler strapped to my body
The Sistine Chapel is the official residence of the Pope and is also the site where Pope’s are elected. This is also the location of the famous Michelangelo painted ceiling: the Last Judgement. Everyone knows this painting and it’s beautiful in person. Wish I could show off a picture but no photos and no talking allowed in here. A check off the bucket list!
After meeting back up with our driver he took us driving around the city a bit more with stops at great views. So that was a Rome in a day! Phew.
After regrouping at the hotel a couple hours we took a taxi back into the city to walk around the Ponte Sisto area, shop and eat. This is where I had the best gelato of my life. They put this cream on top and it was just perfection.
Our last morning in Rome we spent relaxing, hanging out at the pool and having family time. It’s always sad saying goodbye but this time we know it won’t be too long before we see them again. The wedding is in October!
I have to give my kids a lot of credit for this trip. Getting used to Daddy being away is always a rough transition but adding in a ton of traveling and that is a lot for little boys to handle. I think at this point they are so used to having to go with the flow that they are pros.