11/13/12 - 11/17/12 67 °F
We are drinking a bottle of Italian red, a day of two walks separated by a cozy nap, minestrone soup and strong coffee. We are proud of the wine - a grocery store purchase for just more than $2, it's actually quite good.
Don, manna from heaven arriving just in the nick of time as my parenting skills were collapsing, got here on Tuesday. I'd emailed instructions to take a train from the airport, then catch a bus and we'd meet him at the bus stop. Not to say that I was surprised to see him actually get off the bus, but I almost fell over in astonishment when he did. He made it! A big, bus-stop homecoming.
Don's response to anyone who speaks to him is "la dolce vita!" Then he asks me what that means again (the sweet life).
For two days this week we explored the Colosseum and two nearby ancient sites, Palatino hill and the Roman Forum. The Forum is where the happening marketplace was at the time of the Colosseum's height, almost 2000 years ago. Palatino is a huge site of an emperor's palace, stadium, and other crazily opulent buildings. I must say, the Colosseum was amazing.
We did a tour that included the underground level and the uppermost level. The place could hold 50,000 Romans in the stadium and several hundred more working the production of the shows below the stage, including of course the gladiators. The shows would last for days, sometimes up to 100 days. The shows were free, a gift of the emperor. I was initially nervous about our tour guide. She walked us onto the area where the stage would have been and said, "well, here we are!" Turned out she's an archaeologist, Italian at that. It was a great tour and we all hung in there for it.
There has been extensive flooding in Italy this last week. It rained part of one day here in Rome but further north got slammed, causing massive flooding in Venice and mudslides in Tuscany where at least four people were killed. The Tiber River, which runs through Rome, got VERY high. We went and checked on it a few days in a row. One night, there was an incredible amount of debris coming down the high, fast river. We saw several boats, a small fridge, a large bureau, and lots of big limbs and trees. It was astonishing. The river today is way down.
We have continued our gelato enjoyment and have had lots of excellent pizza, soup, pasta, veggies either drenched in oil and baked to deliciousness or shaped into balls with rice and deep fried. Oh my.
Churches have also continued to keep our attention. They are everywhere, they are free, they are full of beautiful art, they are insanely beautiful architecturally, and each is unique. Today we went to a cathedral dedicated to Saint Cecelia, the saint of music. She was martyred on the site of the church. While we were in there, several nuns made there way in, one taking a seat at the organ. On queue, the music began and the rest of the nuns started singing. It was very soft and sweet. Lucky us!
We took Don to our local market this morning, where we've frequented two particular vendors. One, a man who calls Henry his clementine boy. And another, an elderly woman who pinches the kids' cheeks and seems, at least, happy to see us.
After a night time stroll around the Pantheon tonight, Henry's tooth fell out. Another visit from the tooth ferry! That'll be the third visit this trip. Coco got two visits, for the same tooth, poor thing. Her new tooth came in, split her baby tooth in two, and the two halves came out a day apart. The whole process took about 10 days of discomfort for her. Henry, on the other hand, mentioned yesterday that his tooth was loose.
Don has brought more stuff than Coco, Henry and I have for our entire stay! I begged him to bring as little as possible because I'm certain we'll be pushing luggage weight limits on the way home to DC. So he brings three hard cover books! Indeed, I think these are the same three hard covers he's brought on our last five vacations! He has more pants than any of us! Ah, Don, we love you so! He also brought Coco oatmeal and brown sugar, her favorite breakfast. Happy Coco.
We are in Rome for one more week, then a few days in Paris and back to Mount Rainier. La dolce vita indeed.