After a few days in Naples we were on the move again for our ‘rinse and repeat’ tour of Italy with the kids boarding another FrecciaRosa high speed train for a few days in Rome. This was our fourth time in the eternal city and we were just as excited to be backat our favorite city in the world, just like visiting an old familiar friend.
It had all started out stressful the day before, you may have seen my Facebook rant about Hotels.com whom I have vowed to never use again, there service was beyond terrible-outright absurd! We had booked an apartment in the center of Rome, a great location but the owner never replied to any of our phone calls or emails too make arrangements for pickup of the keys. Hotels.com couldn’t reach him either and even though we had a ‘guaranteed’ reservation they wouldn’t do anything about it, their customer service desk said the would book another apartment for us-but at our own expense since there was no refund or cancellation (on our guaranteed) place. Too make a long story shorter we arrived in Rome with no place to stay, as soon as we arrived that afternoon we got on our computers to look for something with the more dependable Airbnb and resolved ourselves for a long battle with Hotels.com to get our money back. Getting WIFI and a table (we got hell for sitting at what we thought was a public area and had to order a coffee) at the train station added to our stress, then searching through more listings.
After half an hour of searching I decided to check my emails and low and behold there was finally a reply from the owner apologizing as he was away on holidays. Lame excuse and totally unprofessional but we were relieved to know we had a place to stay and wouldn’t have to battle for our money back. We were running late for the time we had said we would be at the apartment now so we had to pay up for an expensive taxi instead of the bus we had planned. Luckily, we found an exceptional and sympathetic taxi driver who did his best to drop us off close as possible to our apartment, it was a tricky place to find on a no cars section near Piazza dei Fiori but we arrived only a little late. We rang the buzzer and with no answer and no phone, all we could do was wait. Right beside the entrance to our hopeful apartment was a restaurant so we sat down to order some drinks. The waiter came by and said the restaurant was closed but after Janet pleaded for just some drinks, he smartly sensed her near nuclear meltdown and agreed to get us some cocktails. We took a few sips, started to calm down while taking in the great ambiance of Campo die Fiori when the owners helper finally arrived apologizing for his lateness. By this point I just wanted my damn apartment but I had to express my frustration at the complete disregard for communication, the stress they had caused and how displeased with the whole thing we were. He apologized and timidly commenced showing us the apartment that wasn’t near as nice as in the photos, it was okay inside but outside in one of the best locations in Rome. Ordeal over and we could now focus on showing this amazing city to our kids.
We brought them to the Coliseum the next day, took some photos and wandered a bit before leaving them to explore what we had already done a few times. They were happy to have some time on their own, we showed them where to catch the bus and how to get back home. I thought we were particularly smart for figuring out how to navigate the city but they caught on so fast and by the end were giving us directions. They returned that afternoon all excited to tell us about the things they had seen and we were thrilled that they could share the same experiences that we had.
We headed out the next morning and I was excited to show the kids my favorite church in all of Italy. I don’t know why but it’s baroque magnificence moved me every time I entered its sacred nave, emotions activated by the opulent tributes to the heavens surrounding me. The kids were equally enthralled with La Chiesa Sant’ Andrea Delle Valle as I was and again I have to thank the universe for this and all the blessings we have had. We continued onto the Piazza Navona where I could never make enough trips here, I hope to return again and again. People watching amidst these incredible surroundings is something that never gets old. Next we moved onto the Pantheon, then the Trevi Fountain and threw in some coins to ensure our return again one day soon.
Our last day was spent visiting the city center around Vittorio Emmanuel and the monument, we did some shopping and wandered into some of the nooks and grannies we hadn’t seen before. In the evening, we went out to search for the best gelato and returned to some of our favorite spots for a last chance glimpse of Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and so ended our Roman Holiday.
The next morning, we left early to catch a bus for the train station and to continue our Italian adventures in Florence. The bus was packed as per usual in Rome and we were barely able to squeeze in with all our luggage but we managed. Although full to capacity it made a few more stops and people continued to pile in with barely enough room to breath. Some women made a comment to Brandon, something like ‘tell your family to move into the center of the bus, your taking up to much room’ which was crazy as we couldn’t move an inch. Brandon replied, ‘what would you like me to do, I don’t understand where you think I could possibly go’, then another fellow piped up and yelled across the bus ‘no you should apologize, you are in our country, you are taking up space for people that need to get to work, you should be paying extra for your luggage and you should have taken a taxi’. Then all the Italians where bitching to each other and yes, I do understand some Italian and they weren’t being sympathetic to our feelings. We were all very stressed and not enjoying this part of our travels, we were somewhat understanding their frustrations on such a packed bus and four of us with luggage but what were we to do, we bought a ticket just like everyone else (ps. and I don’t think most even bother buying a ticket as we were the only ones to stamp them). But luckily the god lord intervened at that time and a large chunk of people got off including all our hecklers, a few more stops and we were at the train station. A priest stopped Brandon on the way out and apologized for everyone’s behavior, he said ‘I don’t understand, I haven’t seen that before. You did the right thing and got on the back of the bus with all your luggage and this bus is the commuter bus for the train station so luggage is expected.’ We exchanged some small talk with the minister and he wished us a good journey, it was nice to have someone on our side and dissolved the stress of that bus from hell journey. It was an interesting look at gang mentality though, just one person had to say something and then everyone was ready to chime in. This is how wars start- ‘They know not what they do’! I had wished I piped up and reminded them that ‘us tourists provide a lot of those jobs that they are commuting too, that in other countries people have helped us with our bags instead of stepping over and on us’ but it probably wouldn’t have helped. I was very proud of how Brandon stood up to the hecklers, respectful but not taking their garbage. Most people though were fantastic and helpful this was our only confrontation in over 8 months of traveling so far.
We checked into our apartment early and dropped off our luggage to head back out and explore the city of art. We managed to hit all the main walkable sites and a little shopping on the way to pick up some of the great leather items that Florence is known for.
In the evening, we headed out to dinner where the kids decided to tackle the famed 20oz Florentine steak. Janet and I had smaller versions and I have to say it rivaled Alberta beef and was some of the best steaks we have ever had but it should be for the exorbitant price you pay here. Some red meat was a great treat after all the pizza, pasta and seafood but the overindulgence left us all with the meat sweats and we were like a herd of flatulent cows passing through the streets of Florence. So we walked of the bloat meandering through the streets of Florence on a muggy, warm evening shopping for souvenirs, listening to the street musicians and cooling off with some excellent Gelato.
It was a great end to a great day in this enchanting city and we were up and out early the next morning. Back to the train station to continue our journey for a few days in Venice. Here is a link to our photo gallery of Italy, look under ‘Rome June 2017 or Florence to see all our Pics.