Roman Holidays, Part II


A stroll somewhere near the Via Sistina.


(see what I did there?  Roman numerals?)

Our home during this visit was an apartment near the Piazza del Popolo, so also near the Borghese Gardens and the Spanish Steps– two areas we barely explored in our previous visit to Rome.  We loved exploring the park and the neighborhoods perched up on one of Rome’s hills and looking out across the city.  I also happened to celebrate a milestone birthday during our stay, but a sunny run in the Borghese Gardens with Chloe helped take the sting out of it.  Those of you who know me from way back know why:  I have always hated running and never even dreamed of going for a run with my daughter, who is a runner.  In a quite surprising development this fall, I suddenly found myself running– and not just for the bus.  How that came about may be another post sometime (and I’m sure you will wait with bated breath…).  Perhaps to justify my about-face to myself, I decided my goal was to go for a real run with Chloe.  How sweet it was to have that happen for the first time on my birthday and in Rome!  (Next year we’ll pick up the pace, Chloe!)

Looking down on Piazza del Popolo from Borghese Gardens.

Looking down on Piazza del Popolo from Borghese Gardens.

The Spanish Steps wearing Christmas.

The Spanish Steps wearing Christmas.


The start of another day, at Piazza di Spagna, the base of the Spanish Steps– you can just see the foot of the stairs behind us and to the left side of the picture.

The Trevi Fountain...

The Trevi Fountain…

...and now guaranteed to return!

…and now guaranteed to return!

Maybe I shouldn’t spoil the illusion, but I feel honor-bound to point out that the Trevi fountain pictures somehow exclude the 8 million other people squeezed into the space when we were there.  The littles did get close enough to throw the coins over their shoulders, thereby assuring that they will return.  Will and Chloe did the same on their first visit several years ago, and I guess it worked for them… here they are below enjoying a laugh and a cappuccino in one of the cafes on the piazza.

Good times in the Piazza della Rotunda, across from the Pantheon.

Good times in the Piazza della Rotunda, across from the Pantheon.

The 2000-year-old Pantheon-- really stunning in its simplicity.

The 2000-year-old Pantheon– really stunning in its simplicity.

How on earth did they build this

How on earth did they build this enormous dome that long ago?  And yes, the center of the dome is open to the sky.


Oh, the indignities suffered by the statue!

There’s so much to see in Rome, but I never want to travel in a way that is just a march from one historical site to the next.  We love to take the time to stop in the cafes for people-watching and whatever refreshment is appropriate to the time of day.  And there are always interesting and amusing things to see if you’re not totally focused on just getting to the next monument.

I actually think he would not fit in this car.  But it would be really fun to see if he could!

I actually think he would not fit in this car. But it would be really fun to see him try!

And then, of course, there’s dinner.  We do love to find a good dinner experience.  This time we found a gem– Il Gabriello, in the Via Vittorio near the Spanish Steps.  Not only was the food unbelievably good, it was one of those places where they make you feel special– maybe an extra little after dinner drink for the grownups and cookies for the littles?  Or even just making you feel like you’re welcome regulars rather than just one more anonymous family of tourists!

My boys at Il Gabrielo.

My boys at Il Gabrielo.

I can’t say enough in praise– we  spent two great family evenings there, and those nights will be one of those times someone will bring up years from now, “Remember that great restaurant in Rome? We had the best time there…”  (I know this is true, because we’ve collected a few nights like that from various travels over the years with the big kids– I treasure those memories).


Laughing in the face of danger. Actually this is when we’d first arrived and we didn’t realize someone was about to light something just behind where I was standing!

New Year’s Eve was our finale in Rome, and we were excited to be staying so near the Piazza del Popolo, which we’d read was one of the great places to go for fireworks and celebrating.  We planned to stay in for most of the evening, and then take the easy stroll down to the piazza around 11:30 for the big event.

The surprise was that the fireworks seemed to consist mostly of whatever people had brought with them– everything from sparklers to big boxes of heavy duty pyrotechnics for the amateur.  And people had no idea what they were doing!  The center of the piazza was like a war zone– with people dodging through while other people dashed into the center to set off their charges, which may have been pointed directly into the sky, or may have been off at a crazy angle toward the crowd.

Freelance fireworks.

Freelance fireworks.

Believe me when I say to you we have set off our share of fireworks with friends over the years.  Even at our most–uh, carefree? irresponsible?– we were experts and safety fanatics compared to these guys!  There did seem to be some professional fireworks going off in the distance, though we didn’t see a big, coordinated show going on anywhere.  Apparently the show here in London was stunning (and organized, of course!), so maybe we should be sorry we missed it.  But actually, given that we all survived without injury, I think the big kids would say that the crazy atmosphere in Piazza del Popolo was one of the more fun New Year’s Eves we’ve had together.

I hope you had a wonderful one, wherever you may have been, my friends.  You know how behind I’ve been on everything, and I’m trying hard to catch up now.   It’s not too late for me to wish you a happy 2013, is it?


5 thoughts on “Roman Holidays, Part II

  1. I would have had a severe panic attack with the fireworks scenario you lived through. I’m not sure where I got my deep-seated fear of amateur fireworks, but it’s there and has caused many uncomfortable moments. I probably would have curled up in the fetal position right there in the Piazza! Please don’t stop sharing.

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