The Roman Life

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Our stay in Italy is over. We have a lovely time in Rome, staying in an apartment, owned by a very helpful local, who’s English was very good.

Rome is definitely cleaner and quieter than Naples, by far. There are still shuttered buildings everywhere though, and traffic still has a little of its own mind! By the time we got to Rome,  the summer was over, so temperatures were cooler than they had been in Naples. It was still mild enough, most evenings, to wear trousers and a jumper, well into the night.

We ate a lot of pasta in this stint, with a little pizza (for comparison purposes 😉 ). Our host told us about several local places, including one owned by a friend of his. We went there first, not realising it was an exclusive place. They squeezed us in, and gave us exceptional hospitality, giving us the chance to try several traditional Roman fares, including pig’s cheek (Roman bacon).

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For the sightseeing we went to the colloseum and forum, as well as a history of Rome experience, a couple of large parks and we walked in Caesar’s carriage ‘steps’ along the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica), squeezing in a tour of catacombs along the way.

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Everywhere in Italy has been very welcoming and accommodating to the children, which has been lovely 🙂

On our final evening in Rome, we waved to friends back home on one of the many live webcams, situated around the various Piazzas. This was also the only time we experienced rain during our stay in Italy!

Summary of Italy: cars, people, ancient Romans,  pizza, pasta, fountains and piazzas. And SUNSHINE!

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The Neapolitan Way

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The first leg of our journey is over. We left Naples and arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon.

Naples was amazing. The first thing we noticed when we got off the train last week was how like Egypt it was. The hustle and bustle, the traffic, the buildings, the warm weather.

We wandered the streets of the old town and strolled down to the Port as well as seeing Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplonti. The boys ate obscene amounts of pizza, tried buffalo mozzarella (and hated it!), sampled various sweet pastries and did a lot of walking. We heard about a world famous (?) pizza place, supposedly the best in the world (well, the best in Naples, which is the best in Italy, which is the best in the world 😉 ) and just about managed to find it, with a little help from a local, it was indeed delicious. A couple of helpful boys on the table next to us were happy to show the boys how to eat pizza like an Italian.

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The atmosphere was all around, all of the time. The tall apartment buildings, complete with row upon row of shutters. A real mix of dilapidation and we’ll looked after buildings. Traffic mayhem in every part of the city. Traffic lights? Pedestrian crossings? Road laws? Forget them all! A new way to cross the road had to be learned, pretty quickly! Crossing the road was so draining, the complete concentration required, in both directions, the whole time.

Pompeii was busy and really interesting, it’s so vast. Next came Oplonti, a Roman Palace, nestled in the middle of a residential area, not far from Pompeii. Oplonti is huge. Finally we saw Herculaneum, on the same day as Oplonti. Wow. Our favourite of the three, without a doubt. Herculaneum is much smaller than Pompeii, but so well preserved. Many of the buildings are almost intact, some with tables and statues still in situ. Herculaneum is also much better signposted around the site, so you can actually work out where you are going, Pompeii was not.

On our last day in Naples, we also visited the archaeological museum. There they have truly stunning mosaics, so much detail it’s like looking at a photograph.

Hundreds of pictures were taken, but mostly on my camera, so, I can share those at this time. I can share a few of what I have on my phone though.

First impressions of Rome are it’s very different to Naples, so quiet and calm, much less traffic mayhem, fewer people on the streets. Altogether calmer.

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Almost time for T-Day

So it’s just another 10 days until we head off on our Italian adventure. I have rapidly gone from feeling really organised to totally panicked about not having everything ready in time. How does that happen?!

Our three cases lay open in the spare bedroom so we can throw stuff in as it’s bought or we think of it. Our rucksacks felt incredibly heavy, so packing choices have been reviewed. We have three cases (all with wheels): Hand luggage size, Medium size and Large size; for the 9 year old, 14 year old and me to drag across Europe. I have decided to shove, I mean pack, all the heavy ‘on the train’ stuff in the little case, guide books, activities, snacks etc. This will, hopefully, mean lighter rucksacks while still avoiding the need to rummage in the bigger cases en route.

Much discussion has gone on already with the boys about what they may wish to do, we will all look at the guide books on our journey to select some sites to see and the boys have a notebook and pencil case each to make lists, take notes and write a journal if they wish. We have a challenge for the whole break, that is to try at least one food each day that is specific to that country or region. The challenge reaches a head in Paris, on our way home, where we will all try snails and frogs’ legs, we will each put in 2 Euros and whoever eats the most snails (or most of one snail) wins the lot. This was the idea of O, 14, who ordinarily resists trying any new foods!

I doubt I will blog again until we are on our way and, as this is a laptop free break, all blogging wil be via my smartphone from then on. I fully suspect panic will further set in from now on, so blogging will totally be bottom of the list!

A month until T-Day (train day)

So we have just over 4 weeks to go, a mere month until the longest leg of our journey commences.

I have been busy collecting (hoarding) ‘things that might be useful’ in a pile in the spare bedroom. I have ordered an assortment of things to accompany us as well: plug adapters, phrase books, maps to name just a few. I have also been contemplating what the weather may bring whilst we’re away, and thus what might be appropriate to pack, we’re traveling light so this is actually quite an important point to consider, footwear and outerwear have cropped up. I am conscious that we will have to lug our things across Europe in our suitcases (with wheels), so keeping it down to a minimum is essential.

Food is another thing I have been mulling over, or more specifically snacks for the trains and in our room…

There are a couple of things in the family diary before we go, once they are out the way I can really get stuck into my lists and packing, and realise what I have overlooked…

An Italian Adventure – After the Stress and Complication ;)

So, I’m heading to Italy with my children. We are going to stay in Naples and Rome, mainly to see the Roman sights. But there’s a catch. We are doing the entire journey, from Cornwall to Naples (and back), by train.

It has taken much planning and hair pulling (my own hair 😉 ) to sort out trains for each leg and accommodation in both Naples and Rome (plus a night in Paris on the way back), but it’s finally all booked…

Now we just have the other things to sort out, like travel insurance (which is done), EHIC cards (which are ordered), suitcases, packing, activities for the train and some sort of neat tidy portable filing system for the reams of paper tickets and booking confirmations I now have sat in a pile under the passports.

My intention is to keep this blog updated with our adventures, both en route and whilst there… I will try, I promise, there may even be the odd picture 😉

Train is definitely the more expensive way to get there, but I’m hoping it will make the journey into an adventure!