5,022 miles: the grand finale

Our last full day in Rome arrived, and we were all set for a semi-private tour of the Vatican Museums, complete with access to the Bramante staircase. These tickets were some of the first I purchased when planning the trip.

Of course, in classic Herakovich style, we were 5 minutes late and missed the tour.

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There was another tour group about to leave, and we were allowed to join it. This new tour was leaving 10 minutes late because they were waiting on one last person to arrive, so we tried–and failed–to talk our way back into our original tour group. Frustration station, indeed. (Also, this second tour did not include the Bramante stairs. Bummer.)

However, our tour guide–an adorable young lady from Alabama–made up for it by being very knowledgable, fast, and funny.

The artwork inside the Vatican museums is absolutely spellbinding (and totally overwhelming).

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After the Vatican Museums, we strolled around to find a place for our last lunch. I dragged the family halfway across Rome to a restaurant I’d read about online, but once we arrived at Romeo and took a look at the menu, we bailed. Classy. (The restaurant would be lovely for a pair of grown-ups…but with 3 kids? Not so much…)

Instead, we wound up sitting outside at a sweet, little run-of-the-mill bistro that wound up being fantastic.

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Next stop: the best gelato in Rome–Fatamorgana. Search it out; it’s worth the extra cartography work.

IMG_3392IMG_3394IMG_3374Random bird stare down. We thought he was pretty funny.

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We walked our lunch off on the way back to our hotel.

(Have I told you how awesome our apartment was? Without a doubt, it was the way to go.)

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Tucker has been fascinated with magicians for awhile now. Before we’d even planned a trip to Italy, he’d searched out “magic stores” on Google and read that one of the world’s best was in Rome. So of course he was after us to visit it. I’m not in to magic–I’m a weirdo who gets spooked by it–but I am in to walking around a new city, so he and I set off for Eclectica.

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It was completely worth the hour’s diversion; the staff there spoke English and treated Tucker to several tricks he’d never seen before.

For our last night in Rome, we took a walking food tour of Trastevere.

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waiting for our guide at Piazza Farnese

If you’ve spent any time with our family, you realize that taking a foodie’s tour was risky for a family of particular eaters. We were amazed when all 3 boys decided to play along and try things. The Roman Foodie tour ranked up there with our trip to Pisa; we would do it again in a heartbeat.

First stop was a cheese shop: Coop Latte Cisternino.

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Jack–Jack, I say–tries some fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. We didn’t tell him what it was made of (water buffalo milk). It was outstanding.

IMG_3409our guide, Diane

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From there, we ambled over to Filetti di Baccala for, duh, baccala–which is a salt-cured cod.

IMG_3441IMG_3433IMG_3428Tucker won the braveness award at this stop.

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IMG_3431“God, if I’m born again, let me be born in Rome.”

From the baccala joint, we headed to an authentic pizza place, La Renella.

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Then we took a much needed little stroll through the winding streets and alleyways of Trastevere.

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We wound up at an adorable little artisanal food shop where the boys enjoyed fresh pressed apple juice, and we had a plate of bruschetta.

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A little more walking…

IMG_3494Diane showed Jack how to use these fountains (which are everywhere in Rome) for drinking water.

IMG_3496IMG_3461this guy was sitting outside his shop, painting Converse all-stars; Tucker was highly intrigued

IMG_3468IMG_3484all around the neighborhood there were water bowls for pups

Now for the main course: pastas at Trattoria de Teo–Theo’s restaurant! This hidden restaurant was the best; it’s known by the locals for having some of the best pasta in all of Rome. It did not disappoint. Chef Teo even came out to meet our Theo!

Afterwards, we took a passeggiata around the Jewish Ghetto and over to the Isola Tiberina.

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The last stop was for gelato. We were stuffed and sad to see our trip to Rome coming to a close.

IMG_3531IMG_3535IMG_3537our group at the last stop of the Roman Foodie tour

Saturday arrived, and we faced a mammoth day of travel. We arrived at the airport to discover the tickets for our flight had been reserved, but our seats had not been confirmed. This meant that the wonderful folks at Alitalia had sprinkled us throughout the plane, a situation which was not going to work on a 9+ hour flight. After a whole lot of haggling, they were able to get us somewhat together in 2 rows, in the middle of the plane, and towards the back. Thus, Alitalia achieved what we assumed would have been the rare accomplishment of making this return flight even more uncomfortable than the one we took going to Rome.

IMG_7929claustrophobia, anyone?

Only 2 of the 5 screens for in-flight entertainment worked. There were 3 kids. Imagine the drama.

Also, even though the flight left Rome around 11 a.m., the Italians on the plane decided it was time to sleep, so they closed all the window shades. It was pitch black dark, crowded, cramped, and irritating. But at least they kept the wine flowing.

We hit customs at JFK, and the boys were bouncing off the walls. They kept making goofy faces at the passport recognition station thing which subsequently kept rejecting our passports. Everyone was a little edgy after 9 hours in a tin can, to say the least.

Finally, after over 16 hours of travel, we landed in Atlanta.

IMG_7933home, sweet home

I’ve had friends ask if Rome is too ambitious to tackle with young kids; to them, I say, absolutely not. Rome is nothing short of spectacular, and we cannot wait to visit it again.

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