Saturday, July 2, 2011: Visiting our family in Ferentino

We arranged for the bus we used yesterday to take us to Ferentino. What a magical day!!! Our family greeted us with open arms, meeting us at the exit into town so the driver could follow them to their home near the top of the city. It was tight maneuvering in several spots, but our driver was adept at squeezing that bus through traffic and narrow openings. I am in awe!

We went first to one of the homes of our family, where we were met by several family members. We were able to communicate with one another…My husband and I speak very little Italian, but my nephews both have been taking lessons (one for 5 years), so they were a tremendous help!

We went to a restaurant owned by one of their friends. The restaurant is normally closed on Saturday at lunch, but they opened just for us. They had a large table set up for all of us, and greeted us with glasses of prosecco for a family toast. Then the feasting began!!! Local cheeses and meats started things off, followed by 2 pasta courses (the first: a dish made from my husband’s great-grandmother’s recipe), a meat course, dessert, and drinks. Amazing! Perhaps our best meal yet in Italy…actually, perhaps our best meal for our entire trip!!

We were taken on a tour of the town next. We visited the cemetery where many in the family are buried. Then we were taken on a tour of the town (a walled-in town older than Roma), visiting a few of the ancient gates leading into the walled town as well as one of the local churches. The views were stunning from atop the hill…I cannot begin to imagine how wonderful it is to wake up in a town as awe-inspiring as this every day…truly spectacular!

We headed back to the house after the tour to say our goodbyes for this visit. I cannot believe how quickly the time passed, but it was such a wonderful gift that they opened up their homes and hearts to all of us. I am so grateful for this time and hope they are able to come to visit us so we can extend a warm welcome to them in the USA…it was a happy yet sad trip back in the bus to Rome – if that makes any sense…

Friday, July 1, 2011: Tour of Roma

Highlights: Coliseum; Forum; lunch at Trastevere; top of hill for view; Pantheon; Piazza Navone; church; Trevi Fountain – threw in my coins; gelato; Palentine Hill; walked to Campo di Fiore for dinner/panini

Today we had a full-day tour of Roma. There are 13 of us here, and a mini-bus was arranged for those of us going on the tour around town. We began at the Coliseum, followed by the Forum, and the Pantheon after that. Our bus drove us around Roma, including a visit to the top of one of Rome’s 7 hills for the view and a stop for lunch at a non-touristy trattoria near Trastevere. After lunch we headed for Trevi Fountain (yes, I threw in my coins…no sense testing the gods for a return visit…), had gelato at a nearby gelateria, and ended the tour with a visit to Palentine Hill. Our guide was packed full of juicy tidbits and fun facts…

That evening some of us walked from the apartment to Campo di Fiori for Panini at a little shop in the square…well worth the walk. We stopped for wine and to people-watch along the way…lovely evening! Time for bed…early day tomorrow!

Thursday, June 30, 2011: Rome…our family arrives!

Highlights: 1.To café for coffee/breakfast; 2. family arrives from the States; 3. hang out; 4. Laundromat (loved being able to communicate in Italian); 5. Speaking more Italian here; 6. Gelato; walk around a bit with family; apartment w/ terraces

Our family arrived safe and sound…the fun begins!! We mainly just relaxed today. We had a lot of laundry to take care of, and given the minimal situation we have to do laundry at our apartment we elected to take a couple of loads to a local Laundromat. We could not find a ‘do-it-yourself’ place, so we dropped our clothes off at a place that did it for us. Expensive? A little, but also convenient and a relief! The best part was being able to communicate with the owner, who only spoke Italian, and understanding her/her understanding us!!! Those Italian lessons paid off after all!!!

There are 13 of us here now, so we have rented two apartments. We are in the smaller apartment with my parents; everyone else is in the larger apartment about 15 minutes walk from here. That one overlooks the Coliseum, and there are 2 terraces there (one on the top of the building with 360 degree views). It is an incredible spot to enjoy the scenery, have a glass of wine and relax with the family.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011: Pisa (sort of); Rome!

Highlights: 1.left Firenze after breakfast for Roma 2. Side ‘trip’ to Pisa…only got to view the tower and got 39 euro parking ticket* 3.arrived at apartment in Roma…no good bed yet again!** 4. Dinner at place right around the corner – more touristy…so-so. 5. Family arrives tomorrow!!!

*Pisa: We arrived, hoping to go up into the tower to the top. There was a two-hour wait to go up, and we had to be in Roma to check into the apartment by 5, so no time for that…disappointing. Our lovely gentlemen in the parking lot neglected to tell us we had to pre-pay for parking and put the ticket in our windshield, so our 1 hour visit to Pisa resulted in a 39 euro parking expense. Nice…

**Roman holiday today – St. Paul’s Day – meaning no traffic in the city, so no problem getting to the apartment. The apartment is nice: two bedrooms, two baths (one with a narrow shower!). The water pressure is so-so, but we also have A/C – a must here in summer! And it works: another plus. The washing machine is small and located out on the balcony in cramped quarters. We only seem to be able to use the 4 hour wash cycle. No dryer here…and the clothes line is conveniently (cough, cough) located under the A/C where condensation can drip on the clothes in the right conditions. But really we are in a good location. Other downside: these European beds…what’s up with them? With all of this incredible architecture here they cannot figure out how to get comfort into a bed?? Really??? I miss my bed….