When in Rome: Day 2
On our second day in Rome, we got up bright and early and were excited to go. For breakfast I fed the kids some sugary cereal that I had brought as a treat (we usually eat granola, oatmeal or toast): knock off cocoa puffs and cinnamon toast crunch.
Within a few minutes, though, Miriam started to get a red rash on her face, on her chest and on her arms. We quickly substituted her breakfast for some toast, but the rash was there to stay (and I was left lamenting feeding my children junk for breakfast). Being out in the sun all day exacerbated it a little, but when the day ended we were able to find some hydro-cortisone cream, which helped a good deal over time.
The kids sat at this high table for the first day or two until Miriam broke a plate by dropping it on the ground--after that they sat at an end table on folding chairs. It was cute while it lasted!
We started the day out at the Palatine (ruins of ancient villas) and the Roman forum (the ancient center of commerce and culture). It was hot and dry and we gave the kids water and snacks in carefully rationed amounts so they would be patient until lunch, but overall they were super great.
Miriam had a fun time running along ancient pathways (and subsequently tripping and getting covered in ancient dust).
You can kinda see the remnants of said dust on Miriam's shirt (after she was confined in her stroller because of excessive running):
Also, I only really took the above picture because I was pretending to not be taking pictures of this awesome tourist wearing a Detroit t-shirt:
I didn't get to hear a ton about the forum (I did a lot of kid chasing and Jesse listened to fill me in later) but it was a really cool space to be in. There's something about being where people walked thousands of years ago that gives me an incredible feeling. I love imagining how things would have looked for them (before all the marble got stripped off old buildings and reused elsewhere in Rome) and what life would have been like.
After our time in the forum, we headed out into the city for some food. Along the way, we would pass across streets that you could look down, and spot the Coliseum at the other end. It was really cool to catch glimpses of it so randomly!
Another point where having Vincent as our tour guide was great was when he'd tell us the history of some of the avenues and areas of the city. One example was one road that used to be on a pilgrimage path. You could look from one end to the other and see obelisks that pilgrims used to navigate to holy sites in Rome. I don't have a picture, but it was stories like that that really helped the space come alive for me.
Speaking of Coliseum spotting: we walked along a ridge on our path to visit a church, and there was the Coliseum, off to our right! So obviously we took a selfie with it. #ColiseumSelfie
In the afternoon and early evening, we trekked around the city, going to three very different and interesting churches.
The first was the Basilica di san Pietro in Vincoli (Basilica of St. Peter in chains). Getting to it was fun--it involved dragging 4 kids and 3 strollers up a huge set of stairs on a hot day! Luckily Niko and R decided it was a race (no complaining! Yay!) so it ended up being very manageable.
The church has an interesting mix of old and new that is characteristic of so many places in Rome. First, it contains Michaelangelo's statue of moses, an immense marble carving that was incredibly impressive in person:
But it also has the (*so called* because who actually knows, though I believe the claim goes back to the 1st or 2nd century) chains from when the apostle Peter was imprisoned in Jerusalem in the book of Acts. The story is that Peter simply walked out of the chains (without breaking or opening them) and walked out of prison, and the chains on view are similarly intact.
Second, we went to the Basilica di San Clemente. I don't have any pictures because photography was prohibited, but this was a Medieval period church (built on a 4th century church, built on a nobleman's home, built on...). The mosaics inside were absolutely stunning, and I had an incredible time taking Niko and R around and examining the images and patterns.
Before San Clemente though, we stopped for some much needed gelato (the first we had in Rome!) I don't think it was the best gelato in Rome, but MAN it was what we needed after such a hot day! I think at this point I was also feeling kind of sun-sick and maybe dehydrated, so this gave me a chance to sit and drink some water and imbibe something cold, and afterwards I felt much better.
Oh, and I snapped a picture of the ever-adorable E sitting on a stoop after finishing his gelato. Is it bad that I am covetous of M and P's little ginger?!?!
Our third and final church of the day (seriously guys, we visited a LOT of churches in Rome) was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. I don't have a lot of pictures of this one either because it was Sunday afternoon and mass was going on (so they were discouraging photos and other disruptive behavior, which I completely respect), but it was HUGE and really interesting. The story goes that the ceiling is decorated with gold donated by Ferdinand and Isabella--the first gold brought back from the Americas.
It was really, really beautiful, and also impossible to not think about the millions of Native Americans that were devastated by the arrival of Europeans, which allowed that gold to be brought and donated to the church. It was a contradiction that I couldn't get over.
However, it was also lovely to sit and listen to Mass for a little bit (as long as small people allowed), to smell the incense and hear the hymns.
As day 2 came to a close, we were tired but excited for the next day!