Rome, Italy


Atop one of Rome's many gorgeous fountains

Atop one of Rome’s many gorgeous fountains

Ciao once again!  We traveled from Venice to Rome via high speed train, and have spent 6 days indulging in more pizza, pasta, gelato, and of course, some pretty amazing sights. Our time in the city has been split between a couple of days of heavy sightseeing and quite a few days of just “living” (laundry, groceries, homeschooling, time in the park, late nights on the Spanish steps, gelato dates, etc.).  All of us feel a tad travel weary after 5 weeks on the road, which is to be expected.  With energy levels a bit low, we spend more time than usual in our apartment, relaxing and letting the girls unwind and play games (primary focus seems to be on gymnastics performances, particularly for Thayer who wins quite a few gold medals throughout the week). 

One of the best decisions we have made here is to hire a tour guide who caters specifically to children. Over the course of two days, we covered the Vatican (including St. Peters Basilica and of course the Sistine Chapel), the Pantheon (Jeff’s favorite), the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and quite a few additional gorgeous fountains and hill-top viewpoints from which to take it all in. Our guide kept the girls engaged by making the deep and complex history of this city both palatable and exciting (mostly focusing on blood, gore, and the more crazy tidbits of Roman history like how bears came up through trap doors in the floor of the Colosseum so that gladiators could “hunt” them).  Although the sight seeing was quite tiring, we all got a lot out of it (Thayer might disagree) and certainly learned a great deal about life in Rome through the ages.  Here are some of our favorite experiences from the week! 

The Vatican

Zoe: We spent almost 4 hours walking through the Vatican (and we didn’t even see the Pope). I learned that the Vatican City has its own currency and post office, including the stamps.  Mostly men live there because they are priests and Cardinals, and women can’t be Catholic priests.  All of the residents speak Latin to one another. I guess that language isn’t dead after all! I especially was intrigued to see two preserved dead bodies of Popes, entombed in St. Peter’s Basilica in see-through glass.  Creepy! It was a very long day and it was hard to shove all the facts into my brain, but I really learned  a lot and saw some amazing things. 

Outside Vatican City

Outside Vatican City

Tour guide showing a diagram of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Tour guide showing a diagram of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Drinking the holy water from one of the Vatican's fountains

Drinking the holy water from one of the Vatican’s fountains

St. Peter's Dome

St. Peter’s Dome

Trevi Fountain

Schuyler:  The Trevi Fountain was so beautiful!  The water was crystal clear and it was like magic. All different kinds of currency sparkled at the bottom of the fountain, which made everything so pretty.  We added our own coins to the collection when we made our wishes and tossed them over our shoulders. I wished that we would have an amazing rest of our trip and I’m sure it will come true. I learned that the coins are collected every so often and donated to charity.  There is occasionally theft and corruption when it comes to the collection, which is a shame.  Did you know that Rome’s fountains were all access points for the citizens to collect water, where the famous Roman aqueducts emptied out? You can still drink the water – it’s really clean! 

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Hoping our Trevi Fountain wishes come true!

Hoping our Trevi Fountain wishes come true!

I wish for a cafe latte asap!

I wish for a cafe latte asap!

The Pantheon

Jeff:  This is my favorite of all the ruins in Rome. Originally a church, the building is truly spectacular. The dome, once clad in gold tiles, is now bare concrete revealing the coffered structure beneath. The dome was poured as a single monolithic caste, an extraordinary feat, and the only source of light is the hole in the top of the dome (the oculus).  I was surprised to learn that the dome is actually larger than St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. 

The facade of the Pantheon

The facade of the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon

Another angle of the Pantheon

The Colosseum

It really doesn’t get more exciting than gladiators vs. beasts, underground cages and trap doors, and Emperors giving the “thumbs up he lives” or “thumbs down he dies” sign at the end of a good fight (assuming it hasn’t already ended in death). We were awed by the sheer scale of this ruin, and by the 500 years of “entertainment” that took place within.  Most of the Gladiators were slaves who were hand picked to fight due to their strength and size, and many had great fan support (the way we might follow our favorite football team or hockey player).  Events at the Colosseum were open to the public and free of charge – this was a building for the people of Rome, and they filled it with great zest and raucous behavior on a regular basis.  The girls had a long conversation with our guide about why the citizens of Rome considered such gory events to be entertainment; did they not have the same respect for life and death, or for humanity, as we do?  It was interesting to watch them struggle to grasp how the Roman civilization was so advanced and yet so barbaric at the same time.  

Outside the Colosseum

Outside the Colosseum

Looking out over the Colosseum floor

Looking out over the Colosseum floor

The floor of the Colosseum

The floor of the Colosseum

Additional sights and fun activities….

When you look through this key hole....

On a hilltop in Rome, when you look through this key hole….

This is what you see!

This is what you see!

Another fountain, another pose...

Another fountain, another pose…

Atop the Spanish steps

Atop the Spanish steps

Thayer:  We went up and down the Spanish steps SO many times.  I counted each step, each time.  I came up with a few different answers to how many steps there are, but mostly I counted around 120.   My legs got tired!

When we weren’t seeing the sights of Rome, we let loose in the parks, gelato shops, and played at home in the apartment…

Fun in the park!

Fun in the park!

This cone is almost as big as my face

This cone is almost as big as my face

YUM gelato

YUM sorbetto

Gymnastics gold medalist

Gymnastics gold medalist

We love Italy!

We love Italy!

Jeff and I even managed a few “dates,” thanks to Rosi!

Wine and pasta, the perfect date

Wine and pasta, the perfect date

And finally, here is a video of the older girls out late with Dad on the Spanish Steps.  It’s always a good time in Rome!

We are gearing up for a long haul to Nairobi, Kenya.  We have to fly overnight 6 hours from Rome to Doha, Qatar (small Arab state in the Middle East), followed by another 5 hour flight from Doha to Nairobi.  We are excited and a bit jittery about what lies ahead as we contemplate leaving the comfort and familiarity of Europe behind.  Africa here we come… Ciao!

Categories: EUROPE, Rome, Italy

11 comments

  1. YES! That was what I thought when I received a message from “Demers Gone Global” in my inbox. And again, what a great story! So happy to hear from you.
    Looks like you’re having great fun. I met my boyfriend in Rome 4 years ago, so it has the special ‘thing’ to me. And you know, my favourite spot was the key-hole! I was so enthousiasted about that beautiful view! Right now, Klaas, Lilian & Wisse are sightseeing in Rome… They love it.
    Time flies, you are being missed! We are running out of ‘Demers gone garlic’ and no more sunshine overhere! It’s autumn now with lots of rain (but also very nice colours in the woods)! Every now and then there pops a thing up in my head with an activity you would like to do/see the next visit. This week for example, there is a little art festival in town to show artworks from local and famous artists which you can buy for a good price. I got one as a present for my 18th birthday and my graduation. So cool! & Remember I told you in Amsterdam that I was excited about my first exam? The day after tomorrow I got my second!
    Keep enjoying your trip. I’m sure your wish will come true Schuyler! You’ll LOVE Kenya. It’s great out there, it will be another highlight!

    Love, Linde

    ps. Next Monday I’m going to a Cabaret Performance in Carré (That’s the theater next to the Amstel-river in Amsterdam). And I got this opportunity….because of you! Thank you so much for that, I’m really looking forward to it!

  2. This looks soooo awesome you girls are looking so grown up. I can’t wait to see you all in Dec. Love you all so much…. Enjoy the rest of Africa, and see you soon. Love you JOJO

  3. Great to read about your adventures, especially since we are in Rome right now! Your description of the ‘ feel’ of the city is o so true. it ‘s a truly amazing place, and we hate to leave again. You must know that feeling too. And now you ‘re in Africa. Cannot wait to read your new comments… Lotsaluv, the Wits

  4. Dancing on the steps!!! Whoooheee!You both have great moves and I loved the clapping by the bystanders.
    You all look so happy, I am so pleased for you. There was a photo which looked like Jeff is growing a beard. Hope this is not permanent because he looks a bit geeky.

    I am in NYC and Lee is here too but at the theater with a friend. Tomorrow I am going to Louisiana (!) to join Sandy (brother) at a cajun music festival for two days. What was I thinking? Then I come back to NYC and get ready to go to Paris when Lee is in England with Ash..I am going with a good friend and we are staying in a 5th floor walkup apartment on the Left Bank.There is no elevator. Call me thunder thighs. This will keep my shopping to a minimum because who wants to lug stuff up five flights?
    See you in Feb..have a great time with lee and make sure she really spoils you!
    xxxo
    Juan (Santa)

  5. Hi everybody!!!! Love, love, love the blogs. What an opportunity of a lifetime for the Demers family. I recognized some of the areas you visited when Bill and I took our Mediterranean cruise. I remember the coilesum in Rome and all the ferral cats. We had to be careful of the gypsies because they would steal from you and you would not know it. Looking forward to your next adventure. Thanks for sharing. Big kisses and love to all of you. ps Jeff, I love you sporting a gotee. Can’t wait for your adventure in Africa, one of my bucklet list to visit. xoxo

  6. Demers family,

    What a fabulous trip. Your blog is wonderful. Gabe and I were reading it tonight during game 1 of the World series.

    It brings back so many memories of my trips to Europe over the years, especially the video of the Spanish steps where I spent a few night enjoying the local scene.

    I look forward to reading more, especially the next legs of the trip where I have not traveled.

    Keep them coming,

    Ciao,

    Rachel, Gabe and Eric

  7. I love the mixture of really family life intertwined with all of your travel adventures. I knew that I would love traveling with you all, but I had no idea that I would learn so much!

  8. Hugs to the Demers Family! I love reading your blog and all of your wonderful and descriptive comments. This is such a memorable adventure for all of you. I love every city that you have been to- Rome is one of my faves, though. I look forward to reading about your Africa travels and learning your thoughts on the wildlife and culture there. Keep dancing, singing, smiling, laughing, sampling, and exploring.
    xoxo
    Charlotte

  9. wow, I gotta say I wish I was there….so much to see in Italy….and so much to eat! Looks like so much fun.

  10. Hi there!
    I hope that this works. Technology is not my strong suit…Wow! Will and I are really enjoying this blog!!!! What an amazing time for you all. We were dancing along with you in Italy! So wonderful…so moving!

    Happy Thanksgiving, much love, Deanna and Will

  11. I am glad the last entry worked! It has been so wonderful and exciting to travel the world with your family!! To live vicariously through you all is the best. What a lovely balance of work and experience it seems to be! I apologize for not connecting earlier…we have been trying to strike a balance ourselves. With the medical challenges, it isn’t easy.

    Take good care, and Carpe diem! love,Deanna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: