Last week the girls and I took an adventure to Rome, just the three of us. I have to admit that I was very excited about the chance to spend 4 days in Rome with just my kids, but I was also pretty nervous. In all of our traveling, Rob is the navigator, the transportation figure-outer, the language barrier talker, basically all the jobs I hate, and I am on vacation. On this trip I got to do all the jobs. Navigation gave me the most cause for concern. I have gotten better over the years, but honestly I have zero sense of direction and I can get turned around in my own home town. Armed with google maps and an international data plan, I was hopeful that I wouldn’t let my little family down.

And I didn’t. We never got lost.

We packed our days very full. In hindsight, I might have filled them too full, but oh well. I booked an underground tour of the Colosseum, which I thought was going to be the highlight of the trip for me. We had the opportunity to go on the arena floor, go underneath the colosseum and see the dark, narrow passageways where the 600 workers and animals were kept during the games, and we went to the third tier where the lowest class had to sit. During the tour we also saw the Forum and Palatine Hill. All of those things were very interesting and we heard hundreds of facts, but it wasn’t actually the highlight.

My highlight of the trip was on our last day. We had checked out of our hotel and had a few things on our agenda to see before we went to the train station to head to the airport. We went to the Pantheon and then we decided to browse through a shop and get some lunch. We picked up some fresh sandwiches and a cannoli. Then we sat down in front of the Pantheon at the foot of the obelisk and ate our sandwiches. Something about that moment struck me as special. We were all pretty tired so we didn’t really talk much, we just sat. We watched the people passing by laughing and taking photos. We listened as a woman at a nearby restaurant sang. We laughed at the dogs drinking water from the water fountain. It wasn’t anything special, but it was special. I looked around and I was amazed at where we were and was so thankful that we could experience this together. Not long later we went to the Circus Maximus where chariot races were held. I had a similar experience there. It is a large field with ruins on one end, and you can still see where the track for the races once was. There were people running around the track, people sitting and having a picnic, dogs running around…it was quiet and normal in the midst of this amazing Roman city. We sat on ancient marble steps and just watched it all.

There are so many amazing sights in Rome. We visited many of them. Trevi Fountain, where we all tossed a coin in over our shoulder, The Spanish Steps, The Colosseum. The Forum, where we saw the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated, Palatine Hill, Constantine’s Arch, Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican Museum, The Sistine Chapel, Largo di Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, The Pantheon, Piazza Navona, The Mouth of Truth and The Circus Maximus.

There were many funny things that happened too. We waited in line and bought tickets to get into what we thought was the Sistine Chapel. We climbed hundreds of stairs. I had been to the chapel before and I had no memory of all the stairs. When we got to the top of the staircase…we were in the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Well, that wasn’t what we had planned, but it was pretty neat to see. We had a good laugh about that, but not sure the kids liked that they climbed at least 1000 stairs for an unplanned visit. A note for the suggestion box – maybe make the signage a little clearer. On our way to the actual Sistine Chapel we met a man who really wanted to sell us “skip the line” tickets to see the chapel. He was quite persistent. As we got closer and closer to the entrance, the “special price just for you” was getting cheaper and cheaper, but I decided the line wasn’t long enough to pay the extra cost. Since he could tell that we weren’t going to buy the tickets he decided it was time to let us know that this was only his day job, and that he is an actor, singer, choreographer who has his own YouTube channel and at this point he shows us his Facebook page with his headshots, screen grabs from his acting gigs and other random photos. He was quite the character.

Taking this trip was awesome. I loved spending time in a new city with my kids. I loved exploring and learning with them. I loved being challenged to get out of my comfort zone. I loved seeing them walk confidently through the streets of a new city. I loved listening to them order their own food at the restaurant and attempt to say the names in Italian. I loved hearing them say “Grazie” and “Ciao”.

We had a wonderful trip and I am so thankful for all of this.

(Now it’s time for an obscene amount of photos…)