When in Rome – Part 1

We just came back from an awesome week-long trip to Rome.  It was my first visit (and Abby’s!) but JR has been a few times before and loves the city.

Traveling with a full-blown toddler was…rather challenging.   This was our first time flying with Abby as a lap-infant and well, she’s not an infant anymore.  We had two flights of about 2 hours each, plus a 2 hour layover in Istanbul.  When we checked in online, we saw that there were quite a few empty seats and decided to take a slight risk and select one window seat and one aisle seat in hopes that no one would pick the middle seat and we would have the whole row to ourselves.  Worst case, if someone did take the seat, we planned to ask them to switch and we’d deal with Abby between us.  Luckily, it worked out for all 4 flights and we were really grateful for the extra space.

flight
She’s a fan of Skymall!

But even with the extra room, there is nothing quite like having a child literally strapped to you – using the infant seat-belt extender thingamajig – and throwing a fit.  She had to be belted to one of us during take-off and landing.  Let’s just say it was not the highlight of the trip.

We debated on whether to bring the City Mini GT or our umbrella stroller for our trip and figured since we’d likely be carrying the stroller frequently, the lighter weight and the carrying strap-on for the umbrella stroller made much more sense.  It was a great choice and we were really happy with it, even on the rough cobblestones.  We used the Summer Infant 3d Lite Stroller.  I also wanted a new bag for the trip (shocking, I know).  I’m so over both of our diaper bags at this point and I thought a backpack would be much more convenient for walking around.  Who knew backpacks were so expensive though?  We didn’t need anything specifically designed like a diaper bag, and I wanted decent quality, but again, not spending $100 on that.  We picked the High Sierra Loop Backpack and it was perfect and affordable.

Bag
It’s about time she starting carrying luggage.  Also, don’t you wish you could travel in your pajamas?

Day 1
We left our house at 5am and drove ourselves the airport.  It was much more convenient to take our own car so we could have Abby’s car seat with us, and we learned that our diplomatic plates meant free parking at the airport.  Score!  We arrived in Rome at 2pm local time (2 hours behind Tbilisi) where we were quickly greeted by our driver.  I highly recommend Rome Chauffeur.  We booked them online and it was totally worth it to have a driver waiting for us when we arrived, complete with an installed car seat in the van.

Chaffeur

It took about 45 minutes to get to our apartment near Piazza Navona.  Once again we used AirBnb instead of a hotel.  We like having a kitchen (although this one didn’t have a lot of basics like paper towels, salt and pepper, or a skillet) and more space.  The apartment itself was great and the location was awesome.  It did require a significant amount of babyproofing, though.  As soon as the owner left we had to quickly rearrange some things to keep all her knickknacks out of Abby’s hands.

Although we were pretty tired, Abby was not the least bit interested in taking a nap, so we set out to explore the neighborhood.  There were restaurants and cafes everywhere, and tons of small streets and alleyways.

piazza navona
Piazza Navona

We stopped at a random restaurant with the best bruschetta ever.  Literally.  We were also super early for dinner because of the 2 hour time difference and the toddler but oh well, like I said we were exhausted and didn’t care at that point.   We made a quick stop at Carrefour Express – they crammed so many essentials into a very tiny space!  We were able to buy diapers, fruit (blueberries and strawberries!!!), and milk among other things, and then we headed home for the night.

Day 2
We woke up early Saturday morning and made breakfast at the apartment (scrambled eggs in a sauce pot – do not recommend).  The forecast called for rain all day, so a few days earlier we had changed plans and moved our Colosseum tour from Saturday to Tuesday.  The forecast for the whole week didn’t look promising, but we were hoping it would change (and it did!).  We set out for the Pantheon with our stroller and this rain cover plastic thing that Abby HATED.

rain

Just a few minutes into our stroll and I knew we would be in for a tough day.   The Pantheon was uncrowded and we were able to take our time walking around.  It’s really kind of amazing to just stroll down a small street and then boom, it’s there to your right.  We walked to Campo de’ Fiori and checked out the various fruits, veggies and other goods for sale at the market they set up every day in the piazza.  Abby was completely over the stroller by that point so we went back our place for a long nap.  It was a good time to head indoors because it was pouring while she (and we) slept.

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Abby at the Pantheon

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Campo de’Fiori

We ventured back out later in the day to walk along the Tiber and then we went to the Trevi Fountain, which was unfortunately closed and there wasn’t much to see there.  It was a disappointment, and as we walked back towards our apartment it started raining again.  I suggested that we stop for wine – and animal crackers for Abby – and wait out the rain while enjoying the people watching and view of the Pantheon.  The restaurant was called Hostaria Pantheon and we both enjoyed it so much that we went back 2 more times.  We even had the same table each time, and it was a highlight of our trip!
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Waiting out the rain at Hostaria Pantheon
Day 3
We woke up to a sun-filled morning, thank goodness!  We walked to the Carrefour to pick up some lunch stuff  and then slowly made our way to Villa Borghese.  It’s most famous for the museum, which you need to purchase tickets in advance for, but we went for the grounds.  We wanted some space for Abby to play and enjoy the nice weather.  It was a great way to spend the morning, and we had a picnic for lunch. I had hoped to rent a golf car there, but neither of us remembered to take our driver’s license with us.  Instead we rented this little family bike cart and drove it all over.  We had hoped to make it back our place for Abby’s nap, but she passed out in the stroller right we as left.  On to plan B:  Immediately find a place for wine and appetizers and take full advantage of her stroller nap.
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View from Villa Borghese
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Playing, picnic, and bike ride in the park.
That night we had our very own date night in Rome.  A few weeks ago, we reached out the Community Liaison Office (CLO) at the Embassy in Rome and asked if they had a list of recommended babysitters affiliated with the Embassy.  I exchanged a few emails with one woman from the list, Helen, and after checking her references we asked her to babysit for us a few times during our visit.  I was nervous the first night, but she was wonderful and Abby did great.  Helen sent me a few pictures while JR and I enjoyed a relaxing dinner nearby.  Can’t beat that!
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to be continued.

 

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