Vacation In Italy: Day Two In Rome

Each day my grandmother rotated between putting my sister and I in charge for the day. Day two was my turn to be in charge and we had to hail a taxi to take us to the meeting point for our tour of the Vatican at 8:30a. (Notice how I have dropped the m in am. This seemed like the European thing to do).

That morning I put on my Red Roman Dress and practiced my Italian to speak to the driver of the hailed taxi. I even wrote out the so called conversation in my iPhone notes in case I became flustered. I am so type A personality and not at all go-with-the-flow.

Continental breakfasts in Italy are fabulous. Mainly because they consist of fresh cheeses, pastries, fabulous juices, capicola and my grandma was so pleased to find prune pie like my Italian Great-Grandpa Seese used to bake. Oh, and how could I forget that espresso. I had two that morning.

We found the cab after breakfast.

Ciao, vorrei andare a calle vaticano. (I really did make note of that just in case).

We arrived outside of the cutest cafe and I failed as a director for the day because we waited there at the cafe instead of heading down the steps to check in for our tour.


I finally figured it out and we checked in for our City Wonders Tour of The Vatican. I had heard that you were not allowed to show shoulders or wear shorts inside the high holy places of The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica so I wore a dress. However,while we were in line I learned that the exposure of my thigh two inches above my knee made my dress too inappropriate for the high holy places. I had to buy a scarf. And I felt shame. The pastor’s wife dressed inappropriately for the high holy places.


(When I called my husband later he said he was not surprised.)

The tour of The Vatican was lovely. This is a place you could see a million times and still discover something new with each visit. There is so much to see.


Our favorite, I believe were two things.

First, hearing that there was an advisor to The Pope at the time of Michelangelo’s painting of the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel who had complained to Michelangelo about his frescoes.


The next day this big wig advisor found himself painted in “The Last Judgment” in hell with a snake around his unmentionable places.

We also found it interesting once you enter the Sistine Chapel it is made very clear you are to bare no shoulders or thighs, take no photos and be silent.

We took this seriously. I wore a mismatched scarf around my legs for heaven sakes. BUT everyone else was snapping photos of the frecoes and chatting about them anyway. every few minutes the guards would come on the microphone and say…

“SILENCE (because all the people talking were silly Americans), SILENCIO.”

Also, the guards are very strict about congregating near and exit or main entrance. This is forbidden and you will be strictly shooed and also mean mugged.

After The Vatican Tour I headed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica which costs an extra ten euros but so worth it. Also pay the extra for the elevator when you go. The close to three hundred stairs are exhausting after a three hour tour. (Gosh, I feel like the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.)


We took a taxi to our next spot. We were meeting a City Wonders tour outside of the Colosseum for another three hour tour of Ancient Rome after lunch.


We ate lunch at a spot called Squist Cook, right outside the Colosseum with great views, good food and fun service. I had the most delicious calzone there and I was given my first free shot in maybe a decade. No one ever gives me free anything and I haven’t taken a shot since my twenty first birthday. This was absolutely a “When in Rome” moment.


We went on another three hour tour of Ancient Rome after lunch. It was hot. And we were tired. I also fell down the steps in front of the Colosseum. (Maybe it was that shot but also I was walking and searching for my Chapstick in my purse and anyone who knows me knows I am not the kind of person who should try to conquer a gross motor and a fine motor skill at the same time.)


So I had bruises. And another shameful moment for the day. My day in charge wasn’t panning out as I had hoped. (Inappropriately dressed, public intoxication, ect.)


The tour of the Roman ruins was a tad boring BUT the Colosseum part was spectacular. It is amazing to be in the Colosseum. So much history and thinking about all the life stories that have walked through the arenas of the Colosseum just makes you feel small, which is a good thing.


We had dinner at the Squisit Cook again and received more free shots. And good food. Then we hailed a cab home, found some desserts, wine and gelato and curled up in our jammies in front of “Under The Tuscan Sun” to prepare for our adventure to Florence the next day.

This was such a fun day. As women we had so much fun laughing, seeing, eating and drinking. However if I went again I would not do these tours in the same day. We were laughing together but also hurting. So much walking.


Don’t forget to check back for my favorite, Florence.


Vacation In Italy: Rome Day 1

As a mother of four young children it felt euphoric to roll my carry on out the door on a Wednesday morning during the last few weeks of school packed with seven outfits, my passport and three books to read simply for pleasure. (The Husband’s Secret, The Church Planting Wife and Unbroken)

I love my kids, I pour my heart and soul into them but it is also nice to spend a week just being an adult, hanging with my favorite women and tending to my soul. Soul care is a good thing.

My grandmother, my sister and I headed to Italy with our passports and our carry-on bags and it was truly the best trip I have ever taken.

The flight was much easier than I expected, especially with some melatonin to help me sleep on the plane a little bit.

When we arrived I wish I would have mentally prepared myself for what Italian customs would be like. It was a melting pot of people from all over the world herding through like cattle to go through eight customs stations. There was very little order and very little railing systems to give people direction. We were all pushing through on another, sweaty and smelly from being crammed into a plane the night before.

Once we got through customs I felt like I could breathe a little.  There was a sweet Italian man waiting for us after baggage. He held a sign with our names on it and brought us to a cleaned air conditioned spacious Mercedes six-passager car.

On the way to our hotel, Hotel Mascagni, I was taken back by the amount of Italian military lining the entrances of important places with their large rifles out for everyone to see. This was my first taste of culture shock and something I don’t think I ever adjusted to while we were on our trip.

When we arrived at the hotel is was three in the morning to us but nine in the morning in Rome, which was too early to check into the hotel room but nothing a real Italian espresso couldn’t fix for me. In Italy, if you order coffee they will give you espresso, unless you ask for caffe americano.


I really love strong coffee.

I didn’t change any of my money until that morning at the hotel. We left our bags with the nice men at the front desk, practiced some general Itailian greetings and then we were off for some sightseeing on foot in Rome.


Grandma Trudy, Abigail and I. Group selfie with the sign of our hotel in the background.

My one pair of two pair of shoes I brought on the trip. And those streets. So beautiful to think about the many people who have traveled on the streets of Rome.

My one pair of two pair of shoes I brought on the trip. And those streets. So beautiful to think about the many people who have traveled on the streets of Rome.

We walked to the Trevi Fountains, which were under construction (this only means I need to go back) and then had some pizza on a side street not too far away and watched the crowds of tourists and the Italian people walk by.



That crust. So good.

Another shocking thing for me was the refugees in the city selling everything to tourists. If you make eye contact, they walk right up to you and push selfie sticks in your face. There was even a lady making money that morning trying to put birds on people. Live birds. And a man dressed as a monk, very poorly, trying to get tourists to take photos with him and then demanding money for throwing on a sheet and some Mardi Gras beads. I struggled with the street selling because I saw these people in their story and I knew street selling was how they made a living. I learned you actually have to be rude and not look at them or they will not leave you alone. This broke my heart but I really didn’t need a selfie stick, or a live bird on my shoulder.


My Grandma Trudy. We were deciding on pizza and the lady in the street putting birds on passer-byers is in the pink shirt right behind my grandma’s shoulder.

The other heart breaking thing I noticed while watching the Italian people was the poor people asking for money on the street. Every single one of them suffered from some kind of physical deformity with the exception with one woman I saw sitting on the side of the road with what had to have been a ten day old baby.

If you go to Rome prepare yourself for the sadness you may feel when you begin to people watch. I don’t think I really prepared myself for the hard places I would see in those cobblestone side streets.


Top of the Spanish Steps with random gladiator in the background.

After pizza we walked to the Spanish Steps, which was a challenging walk because you are essentially hiking to the top of the city. Our reward for that walk was gelato. I am pretty sure I’ve never had gelato before I tasted gelato in Italy. And after that gelato our gift was that our hotel room was ready and we all had a three (maybe four) hour nap.

I am not an ice cream lover but this gelato was the bees knees.

I am not an ice cream lover but this gelato was the bees knees.

Dinner that night was at a place recommended by the concierge at our hotel.

Ristorante La Pentolaccio


It was very good. I learned that in Italy they eat late, like most places in Europe. Italians order first plates, which normally is a pasta dish and then second plates which is your meat course. I also learned the desserts are a must. And wine. Chianti is my new jam.


My grandmother and my sister and I laughed most of the week and my new found talent, eating my food as faster than anyone else. This is a survival skill I have adapted to from being a mother to four young kids. Eating at lightning speed is survival for me. So I spent most of our meals scarfing down my first and second plates like a boss.

But also the food was so good. That night I had lasagna, lamb bites and tiramisu.

And then I had sweet dreams thanks to some more melatonin.

Don’t forget to check back for day two in Rome and then my favorite, Florence. And then Venice.