We weren't sure of the exact dates Gino would have off, but we knew what week it would be, so I started researching how we were going to get there and where to stay. We started off thinking it would be easiest to fly but after figuring in the drive time it takes to get to the Venice airport (closest airport to us) and then the bus, taxi, or train to our hotel in Rome...it would be about the same amount of time to take the train all the way there or drive ourselves. After weighing all the options, we decided to pack up the car and drive. We didn't find out the actual break dates until...THE DAY BEFORE. Planning a trip like this, with a baby in mind is tough enough but then not to know your dates until 24 hours, well actually more like 16 hours, beforehand was tough. Once he found out, we booked the hotel, packed up and left the next morning. The drive was going to take us 6 1/2 hours and we figured an extra hour of having to stop to feed Lily. It was a very easy drive, all highway and beautiful driving though Tuscany. Lily was actually pretty amazing considering she's 4 months old. She slept a good chunk of the way and the rest of the time she "talked" to herself. When she got fussy, I felt no shame in using the Ipad as a distraction. Before we left, Gino uploaded a few kiddie videos and they came in handy not only in the car, but to keep both Landon and Lily occupied throughout the entire trip!
|If you can see through the finger smudges, "Pocoyo" is playing.|
Onto happier times. We arrived in Rome at about 6pm and if it wasn't for the GPS Gino borrowed from a friend, we would have never found our hotel. If you're not familiar, European streets don't really have noticable street names/signs. They're usually plastered on the side of a building mixed in with the brick so they're very hard to see. Hence, why the GPS was a lifesaver. We got into the city and to our hotel pretty easily. I had researched where to park our car since the hotel parking was 30 Euro a night ( a little high). The parking lot I found online was only a few blocks away and was half the price. Once we got there, the parking attendent told us we were wrong and that the price was actually 28 Euro a night ( random number if you ask me). At that point I just wanted to be at the stinkin hotel already so we decided to pay the 30 Euro and park there. After Gino got us checked in, we had to drive around the block to the other side of the building where the parking was. Sounds easy right? NOT AT ALL! We must have drove around the block a dozen times. At this point we were irritated, hungry, tired and embarrassed. The bell boys outside of our hotel were practically laughing everytime we drove by, in the car that has Ginos name plastered across it. We went around one more time and I saw this tiny little gate no bigger than a very small Fiat and no parking sign what so ever. Duh, we should have noticed that! (Not) Anyways, that was a long story. But we found the hotel, got to Rome safely and managed to park our car. Success.
That night we got ahold of Evan and Jillian and had a nice dinner to catch up. It was so amazing to see them and finally meet baby Landon! They were in Lillehammer with us the last 2 seasons and Jillian and I were pregnant together all of last year. She was about 7 weeks ahead of me. After putting the babies to bed, us momma's went down to the hotel bar for a few drinks. It turned into a really nice evening.
The next day we woke up early, and had an hour or so free before we met the Cheveries for a city bus tour. We took a stroll down the street to the Basillica of St. Mary where we were recommended to go. It's where the supposed remnants of Jesus's manger are held. Who wouldn't want to see that!? The church itself from the outside was very large and of course old. The inside was spectacular. We've been in our fare share of impressive churches during our time spent in Europe (Notre Dame Paris, Sacre Coeur Paris, Basillica St. Marco Venice, Church of Our Lady Before Tyn Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral Prague, etc) but this was by far, one of the most beautiful. An incredible amount of detail in the mosaics, lots of gold and color. It was built in the 4th century! Definitely a highlight of the trip, which I wasn't expecting. Amazing...
|The crypt under the alter where the manger is held|
The weather was great the whole trip, in the high 60's low 70's. So, we decided to sit in the seats at the top of the bus where it's open air. You actually see a TON on the bus tour and they gave us headsets to listen as we drove by different sites. Of course, we weren't able to listen to much while holding Lily...watching our bags...and shielding her from the light breeze. (Everytime air blows in her face, she holds her breath, its cute, until she starts crying) As we were walking towards towards the Vatican enterance, we were stopped by a tour company offering Vatican tours. I was told by my parents, who were just in Rome a few weeks earlier, that it was cheaper to buy the tours off the street. So we did! It was about 40 Euro a person (babies free) for a 2 1/2 hour guided tour. We paid, changed and fed the kids, got our headsets for the tour and were all set!
As you can imagine, the Vatican/Vatican City are huge. The Vatican itself reminded us alot of the Louvre in Paris, but larger. We were told by the tour guide that the Vatican museums have over 1,400 rooms and that only counts the MUSEUM rooms. The Louvre has a little over 400. If it would take you 24 hours a day for a month to see every single artifact in the Louvre I can't imagine how long it would take to see everything in the Vatican...years. So, our dinky 2.5 hour tour only showed us the big name sites....
|Emperor Nero's Bathtub from 50 AD|
|The dome of St. Peters Basillica. Didn't actually make it in...ill explain below.|
|The Pieta, by Michaelangelo|