Tuesday, April 4
We either forgot how tiring an afternoon in Rome with little ones can be or we just thought very highly of ourselves when we made plans for today. The plan: take the ten o’clock train into the city, visit all our favorite places—Saint Peter’s, Piazza Navona, Pantheon—lunch at La Monte Carlo and then finally dinner at Taverna Trilussa.
We didn’t wake up until almost ten…
Once we saw that there was a train that still left in the ten o’clock hour and it was the train that only took thirty minutes, we hustled and hurried, said forget the dishes and made it to the train station with one minute to spare. As usual, there wasn’t room for us to sit together, but a kind signora offered Leo and me her seat and he continued to flirt with all women in our area regardless of age (the woman next to me as at least ninety and she was his favorite).
A giddiness came over all of us as we pulled into sight of Saint Peter’s. It was at that moment that I told Ryan, yes I would do it all over again and he needs to start lining up some projects so it can happen.
We weren’t on a schedule so we took our time getting organized, disinfecting hands and planning where to get coffee. A mom friend of mine studied in Rome and she mentioned a restaurant nearby where she was friends with the owner; she really wanted us to go by and say hi. We went in to order coffee and ask for Valentino or Daniele. The gentlemen around the bar—both those who worked there and those who just hung out—looked at the picture she had sent me of her friends and the owners, but couldn’t identify the men. I said I had another of just the men, but they clearly had no interest since there weren’t any young, hot college girls in it. We all laughed and talked for awhile, then said goodbye. He told me to thank Brittany for sending us and to come back soon. I think he liked what he saw.
Once properly caffeinated, we planned to head into Saint Peters. As feared, the line was way too long—not summer-long, but long enough to lose patience—so we just headed straight to pizza. Ah, pizza. La Monte Carlo is one place I dream of often. It’s always a toss up between the pasta carbonara and pizza cippola, so thankfully Ryan always agrees to split. That paired with a beer and the warm Roman sun made for such a perfect lunch. I’m pretty sure the boys agreed, but I was more focused on my experience than anything else.
The next stop on our route was Gelateria del Teatro and Jude and Henry knew exactly what they wanted. With cups and cones in hand, we walked out and sat on the steps we’ve sat on dozens of times and ate our favorites: fragola for Jude, pistachio for Henry, pistachio and ricotta e ficchi for Ryan and pistachio and mandorla for me. Leo had some of everybody’s. I didn’t think I’d want any after our heavy meal, but I was wrong, and glad to be wrong too.
Besides gelato, the highest thing on Jude’s Rome priority list, and therefore Henry’s too, was the “Octopus Fountain” in Piazza Navona. When we turned the corner, you would have thought they were reunited with their best friend. The boys took off running and shrieking with excitement. Jude asked for my phone so he could take pictures. They both just laughed and smiled and moved around so they could get a better look. Leo thought it was pretty cool too. We wanted to be equal opportunity fountain lovers, so we walked around and looked at the other two, but neither seemed to impress the Mayer boys quite like the Octopus Fountain.
As always in the past, the Pantheon followed Piazza Navona. They boys stared mesmerized as we rounded the corner and the ancient building stood before us. It truly is a remarkable sight. After some deliberation, we decided to all go in, stare up at the oculus and then go out. As we excited, we noticed the holy water font—something I never noticed before. It’s funny because I always forget that the Pantheon is a church and clearly so does everybody else. We quickly blessed ourselves and walked quietly through the bronze doors and back into the Roman sunshine.
It was clear to us that the Mayer boys were in much need of a bathroom, so we decided to take a detour from tourists and find a bar. The first one told me the lights were out and I said that was fine, we didn’t need lights in the bathroom and we’ll have coffee too. They looked at me like I was an idiot and told me again that the lights were out. Ah, yes, I was an idiot. So we went to find a bar that had electricity and found the cutest and cleanest little bar I’ve ever seen in Rome. And thankfully the woman was kind and patient with our multiple bathroom trips, cookie requests and table changes.
Once we emerged, I finally asked Ryan the time; it was three. If I had had water in my mouth, I would have spit it out. How on earth was it only three? Taverna Trilussa didn’t open for another four hours. One look at the tired boys told us there was no way we would last another four hours, so we walked back to the station via Trastevere. As we walked along we were able to reminisce and that’s exactly what I had hoped for our day in Rome. I didn’t need to spend the whole day there and eat dinner at the restaurant we now consider our “white whale.” I just wanted to walk along the streets, see some of our favorite places and eat some of our favorite things. In my mind, the day was perfect.
Thankfully the train ride was not super crowded and we were able to make it hope without any incidents of embarrassment or frustration. The turn around was quick though because, before we left Rome, we made plans to meet Bogi and Peter for dinner at another one of our favorite spots: Il Bettolino. I have dreams about their seafood salad and it was on my must do list. Since we left they’ve classed up the joint a bit and have all new decorations and color scheme. My salad even had pomegranate seeds as a garnish. The boys were excited to eat octopus french fries and that seemed to keep them in check for a little while, but soon the calamari was gone and they were still hungry. Not wanting to prolong the dinner any longer—Bogi wanted to get their little one home too—we said our goodbyes and went home for peanut butter sandwiches.
I know Ryan was concerned that our family day was not what I had hoped, but I went to bed—with Leo still playing his favorite games—feeling quite content.