On July 1st, we set off on our European adventure! Miss Emma is a superb little traveler. She loves, loves, LOVES, to fly!
Every time a plane takes off or lands, Emma raises her hands as if she's on a roller coaster.
And, of course, she and mommy love to make silly faces for GIffy. :)
We rented an apartment in a very nice part of Rome, literally next to the American embassy. We loved this apartment! Its location is perfect, its decor is beautiful, and it comes with housekeeping services. We would definitely rent this again. Anyway, here's the master bedroom.
This is the room Brittany and Emma occupied.
Brennan and Keaton shared this room.
This is the tiny but efficient kitchen.
Here are the living and dining rooms.
We had taken an overnight flight from DC to Rome. I can't sleep on planes, so I ended up with a migraine as I had anticipated. So the fam dropped me off at the apartment to nap while they grocery shopped and puttered for awhile. Several hours later, I was good to go. Our first stop was the Spanish Steps.
When I travel, I always carry a small notebook in my purse so I can make notes, write things we said and did, capture some background about the places we go, etc. Boo for the fact that I lost my little notebook. So I am going to paraphrase some tour book descriptions to fill you in on what we did just in case you care. Here's the skinny on the Spanish Steps. The French owned the church at the top of a steep hill. The Italians owned the plaza at the bottom of the hill. The French decided to build a spectacular set of stairs connecting the two. That was cool with the Italians until they caught wind of France's little secret: the French intended to erect a statue of King Louis the XVI at the top of the stairs. The pope at the time was so not happy. After a long standstill, an Italian architect saved the day by appeasing both sides. Anyway, the 138 steps are a popular tourist stop. This is the church at the top of the steps.
Here's the view of Rome from the church.
A few photos into our trip, I realized that it was nearly impossible to avoid capturing strangers in my photos. (Makes me wonder how many strangers' photos I am in. Hopefully just the back of my head and not my rear. I realize I will never see any of those people again, but still I don't like the thought of random photos of my rear appearing somewhere on the internet. Ha ha.) Anyway, here are Rick, Brennan, Brittany, and Emma sitting on the steps. Plus one stranger just behind Rick.
And here are just the girls plus the same stranger.
This cute photo is of the girls relaxing at the fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps.
Then we decided to head over to the Pantheon. On the way, we passed a store with this adorable apron. I meant to go back and get it, but then I became distracted and forgot. Boo for having a grandma's old-lady memory. :(
Along the way to the Pantheon, we passed the Column of Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor) in Piazza Colonna. It was erected sometime between AD 180 and AD 193 to honor his wartime victories against the Danube.
Then we passed the Obelisk of Montecitorio. As you know, the early Romans relied on sundials. In 10 BC, Emperor Augustus erected this obelisk to be used with a sundial. Its hieroglyphs bear testimony to its Egyptian origin. Some sources claim that Emperor Augustus procured it in Egypt. Nine or ten centuries later, the obelisk disappeared. In the 1500s, it was discovered beneath medieval houses, but it's excavation wasn't ordered until the 1700s when a pope took interest in it. It has stood in its current place since 1792.
Now for the Pantheon, which is an architectural masterpiece designed by the emperor Hadrian. It's name means "all the gods." Hence, it was built as a temple to the many gods worshipped in early Rome. It later became a church. It's diameter and height are equivalent (142 feet). It's dome, which you can barely see in this photo, is remarkable. Here are a few exterior shots.
The exterior's beauty is rivaled only by that of the interior.
And then there's the dome. It's difficult to fathom that this was built without any modern engineering or technology yet it is perfect. It provides the only light. Flash photography was prohibited, so it was difficult to get a good photo, but here's a glimpse.
One last interesting factoid: the Pantheon houses the tomb of Raphael, the famous Italian painter.
After exploring the Pantheon, we spied a great restaurant in it's courtyard. If you are aware of my lovely GI issues, you know that among the things I cannot eat are tomatoes and onions, I am allergic to seafood, and I don't eat chicken. Sometimes eating out is a challenge, especially in a country in which tomatoes, onions, seafood and chicken are considered to be staple items. But this restaurant served the most delicious white pizza ever. (Don't ask me how many white pizzas I ate in Italy. Don't ask about gelato, either. Ha ha.) Anyway, we sat down for lunch and this was our view. Pretty cool, huh?
After lunch, Emma wanted to play by the fountain.
This little mouse lives beneath the fountain. We saw him/her sneak in and out of its little mousey hole. It's a brave little mouse, not the least bit intimidated by people. That's probably because everybody throws crumbs to him/her. Emma declared, "Ohhhh! That's the cutest mouse I've ever seen!" I guess they are cute as long as they're not in my house.
We saw quite a few Pinocchio stores as we meandered. The girls couldn't resist the silly photo op.
And that's all she wrote for today. Off to work on more photos. Welcome to Rome!