When in Rome: Day 7
And now begins the tale of our final day in Rome!
(I have really milked this for all it's worth, haven't I?)
(By which I mean, if I had written this in any less detail, I would have forgotten the insane amount of things we did)
For our final morning in Rome, we decided to go and see a handful of interesting churches that we hadn't gotten to see yet #nerds. Also, we had to go to the Trevi fountain to throw coins in over our shoulders!
We headed to the fountain first, hoping to beat the worst of the days' crowds, only to find that it was being cleaned. Bummer! We resolved to see a few of the churches first, and then head over to the fountain later in the morning.
First we stopped at the Cathedral of St. Ignacius of Loyola. I think photos were forbidden here, but you should be able to see some at the wiki link. The coolest part was that the ceiling had been painted with a false dome--basically, it was a normal curved ceiling, but had been painted in perspective to look like it was this giant vaulted dome with a illuminated window at the very top. From a certain perspective it was incredibly convincing, but if you walked to the other end of the nave* the perspective no longer worked and it looked reeeeallly trippy.
*I think I'm using that term right??
Next we headed to the Basilica of St Maria Sopra Minerva. They had yet another cool Egyptian obelisk in front of the Cathedral. Obelisk spotting was one of our favorite activities to do with Niko, because he is a big Egypt fan. It was fun talking to him about how Rome beat Egypt a long long time ago and took all these obelisks as spoils of war, just to prove they were the biggest and the strongest. We also really enjoyed talking about how on earth they got the dang things all the way to Rome from Egypt! (Conclusion: a very large boat)
The cathedral gets the name "Minerva" because the builders thought it was built on an ancient temple to the goddess Minerva (spoiler alert: it was actually built on a temple to Isis!)
The other cool thing about the cathedral is that it is a Gothic cathedral, which is fairly uncommon in Rome (though seemed pretty normal to me, but that's because most of my experience with cathedrals are the super German ones!)
Niko and I donated a coin to the Cathedral and lit a candle:
The final church of the morning was the Church of St. Louis of the French.
Besides being a really lovely church, it also had some beautiful Caravaggio paintings (really, Caravaggio was really, really great).
After visiting the last church, we decided it was time to head back over to the Trevi fountain! We fought the growing crowds and managed to throw our coins in over our shoulders (though I have no good photos of it, sorry!)
We decided that in order to be able to claim that we truly visited the Land of Pizza™, we should go and get some really good pizza. In one of the blogs I read, it mentioned there was a great place called Forno that was sort of near** where we were, so we headed over to get some lunch.
**Everything in Rome is "sort of near" where you are, because it's all squished together in a few miles in the city center, but getting there (especially with kids) is another story!
Jesse and I both got cold summer pizzas (I think Jesse's was basil, eggplant, and bufala mozzarella and mine had Proscuitto crudo, tomatoes and mozzarella) and the kids got a simple but tasty (and cheap!) cheese pizza. The blog was right (and the walk was worth it)--this pizza was good!
After lunch we planned to go home and rest before heading out for one final evening in Rome. We left the restaurant and headed to the nearest bus stop. And we waited.
And a whole bunch of tour buses came through, and a lot of people stood at the stop and waited, but no city buses came through.
We should have realized something was up at this point, but we thought that maybe they had just created a bus detour for some unknown reason, so we decided to check a different bus stop nearby.
Well, "nearby" took us probably 30 minutes of walking in the hot sun (after already having waited for probably 30-40 minutes), after which we finally reached another bus stop where I knew we could catch a bus to the general vicinity of our bus stop.
After waiting there for a few minutes, a woman leaned over to tell us something in Italian, but we didn't understand her. Luckily enough, she was very kind and asked around at the bus stop to find someone who spoke English, who then told us that they were on strike!
Ohhh boy. By this point we were all pretty tired and hot and I had the beginnings of a headache, and we had all really been looking forward to getting out of the sun for a few hours.
So we decided to walk a few blocks up to the metro stop, juuuust in case they weren't part of the strike.
So at this point, we realized we'd have to be out all afternoon (and we'd have to wait and see if the buses started running again in the evening--or else we'd have to take a taxi back!)
We were sort of museum-ed out but knew we needed somewhere to rest for a few hours, so we walked the rest of the way up the hill to the Villa Borghese. This used to be the domain of wealthy Roman aristocrats (I think there's more backstory I don't remember at present...) but it's now a public park, and the palace is a museum.
It was still hot at the park, but there was shade and water fountains and a playground, so we decided we'd try and take it easy for a few hours.
And then I spotted something, and remembered what I had read on a few travel guides: you can rent multi-passenger bikes in the park! I have a fond memory of one family vacation where we rented a giant bike and went gallivanting around, so this detail had stuck in my head as we were planning the trip, but I had sort of passed it off as an unnecessary activity when there was so much else to do in Rome.
But, as it turned out, it was the perfect thing to do on an afternoon when stranded in the city by a bus strike!
No really, the kids were absolutely thrilled and chortled with glee for basically the entire hour. It was great to be sitting down while also moving around and seeing the park, and it was great to have the kids contained (and to not have to chase them around while feeling hot and tired!) And it was really fun for us too!
Seriously, best 12 Euros ever spent.
After we finished our bike ride and hung out at the park for awhile longer, we decided it was time to venture out to A) see if the buses were running again and B) get some gelato for dinner**.
**I've joked about this before, but I think this time we really did have gelato for dinner!
As we walked down the hill to Giolitti's, we noticed that it seemed like the Metro was running again, so we proceeded with a little more confidence that we might get back to the apartment without spending 15+ Euros on a taxi.
Again, I really should have written down what gelato flavors we got, because I have completely forgotten! But Giolitti's did not disappoint.
Niko seemed to especially enjoy his blackberry and blueberry gelato (*insert joke about "you should have seen the other guy" here*).
After one last delightful gelato, we made our way to Piazza Navona for a few more relaxing moments. And then, we headed to the bus stop to head home!
It seemed like at least some buses were running again, but we weren't entirely sure which ones and how often, so we jumped on the first one that was heading in the right direction. And then we spent ages on a crowded bus in some really heavy traffic (which Niko was a trooper for all of).
And that was our time in Rome! I really think Niko's thumbs up up there really sums the whole week up.
It was SO hot (too hot!) and crowded, but it was sort of impossible to not enjoy such an interesting city. I was really glad we were able to do it on a budget, and that we were able to get the kids to enjoy the experience as well. I know they might not remember much of it later on (haha poor Miri will probably being chewing us out the rest of her life, like "you took me to Rome when I was TWO?!?! I don't remember ANYTHING!!!") but it was a great trip and I'm glad to have gone!