Arriving in Italy always brings a smile to my face, it just feels familiar and friendly and easy. The Italians love kids, and I love the coffee, the beer, the wine, the food, the history, the beaches, the gardens, the olive groves, the weather, attempting to speak the language and, well, just about everything.
Since our rather last minute plan was to find a motorhome, and that is not easy on short notice at the start of summer in Italy, having already had little success with web searching, we opted to book five nights in a little two bedroom cabin in a camp ground just near the Vatican, thinking a camp ground would be ideally suited to leading us in the right direction to a motorhome and that if we found one we could simply check out of the cabin and into the camping space. We were wrong, they were no help at all in finding a motorhome, but it was an ideal Rome base with the kids, being easily accessible to the city but still giving them the space, a pool, playground etc., that we wouldn’t have got in a little city centre hotel.
I think it doesn’t matter how many times you have been to Rome, as a tourist it is hard to not still be drawn in by the allure of the big tourist sites, I.e. The Vatican, The Colosseum, The Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and so on., and you just have to see them again and again, and they lose little of their awe.
Ari was particularly excited about visiting the Colosseum, his Audio Books for the sequels of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ often refer to the Romans and battles between the Romans and Vikings and to the Colosseums where the captured Vikings, and Dragons in the books, do battle, and since one of his most regular persona’s is ‘Hiccup’, the main character, a Viking, he proudly donned his Viking outfit and set out to find some Roman Gladiators to battle. On first sighting the Colosseum he was a little disappointed that it was “half a huge Leaning Tower of Pisa in ruins” but soon changed his tune when we rounded the end of the massive structure and saw a group of five fully dressed Gladiators mulling about. He only hesitated slightly but for a moment, purely at the sheer number of them, saying “Dad, you might have to help me if I am losing”, before advancing towards the pack, sword drawn and shield at the ready. The Roman Gladiators loved the sight of a little Viking confidently approaching for battle and were soon in the spirit of a good joust, afterwards swapping helmets and swords with him in a sign of truce. It made his day and set him up for the tour of the inside of the Colosseum with great interest. Tess was less impressed about getting too close to the Gladiators, I think she thought Ari was pretty brave to get amongst them.
For Ari’s birthday (a big thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes) we visited the Explora Children’s Museum in the middle of Rome, a fantastic interactive children’s learning playground, not unlike the Cité Des Enfants in Paris, where the kids could experiment with water play and mechanical structures, be fire fighters, milk a mechanical cow, tend a vegetable garden, set up and keep shop, earn money by running a service station, send messages through vacuum tubes, and so on. They both absolutely loved it. Afterwards we walked up to the Villa Borghese Park to explore the gardens and fountains, Ari took us for a row on the lake and we ended the day with a carousel and gelati. Needless to say Ari thoroughly enjoyed his Birthday, although he refused to acknowledge it was actually his birthday, or that he had turned four! He seems to have since come to terms with his aging though as when asked, often, by the Italian people how old he is he happily responds “Quatro Ani” knowing it means four years.
We did manage to pick up a Motorhome on our last day in Rome, for four weeks, and decided to head south first before working north and eventually having to head back to Rome to drop it off. So we will be in Italy for at least the next month.