Five Favorites: Italian Travel Edition

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I know it’s been about a month since we returned from Rome, buuuut I wanted to share my top five for living/traveling in Rome. I figured I’d know what to pack, having previously lived in Europe for four months of my life. However, that stint happened to be in the mountains of Austria. In the dead of winter. So, I had to rethink my suitcase contents for this trip. Oh, and pack for a 2 going on 3 month old baby. Here are a few things I thought were essential to making the trip as comfortable as we could, without a Target in sight.

1. Good Shoes.

This is a no-brainer for anyone who has done any amount of traveling in Europe! The streets are old, cobbled, and NOT kind on the feet. And, when you enter a world where walking is the main mode of transportation, it’s worthwhile to invest in quality footwear. It’s always such a chore to find those for me, since I have midget feet. We struck it lucky at the Clarks outlet in Leesburg a few days before we left, and I wore these almost daily, everywhere. They were light as a feather, fit well, supportive, and none of the straps rubbed. Also, I seriously despise comfort shoes that look like comfort shoes, so these were great in that they actually looked pretty cute.

2. Sunhat.

The Roman sun is no joke. I have always thought that somehow, the sky in Rome looks bigger. It’s also bluer and just seems to stretch on in infinite, cloudless glory, which means that you get pretty hammered with the UV rays during the day. A cute hat, which also covers the face is such a relief. I also used mine to shade Lucy sometimes when she was in the sling and her own little sunhat didn’t do the trick. This one is from Tarjhay.

IMG_0552Tom had one too and will kill me for putting this up, but it saved his face from the burn:

2013-07-03 11.11.54 In a tragic turn of events, we discovered upon our return that both precious hats were missing. Just gone. We knew we hadn’t left a single scrap of our personal belongings in the apartment, so we can only surmise that we dropped them out of the stroller after our last outing. 😦

3. Badger products!

I’d known for a while that commercial sunscreens are pretty icky, chemical-laden products, but this article helped me understand why and gave suggestions on alternatives, especially for the baby. We bought the Badger Baby Daily sunscreen as well as the bug spray, and both were wonderful. As a bonus, they both actually smelled nice, not chemical-ly.

4. Baby Carrier

While my super-generous parents gifted us with a sweet, brand-new travel stroller, we still found ourselves wearing Lucy quite a bit. She really prefers being held/smothered against a human, regardless of the heat and humidity, and in some cases it was easier (e.g. tons of stairs all over the city, bus, metro, etc). She bummed around in her sling a lot, and my oh my, did that give the Italians something to stare at. Babies are a rare sight in Italy, but babies worn by their young fathers are even rarer. We got hilarious looks from passersby and plenty of unsolicited child-rearing advice in rapid, unintelligible Italian, sometimes roughly translated into gems like, “Head! Up!” (upon seeing sleeping Lucy’s head slanting to one side in the sling). 2013-07-09 12.47.53

5. Peanut Butter

…or whatever form your comfort/necessary-to-survival food takes. I learned this the hard way, and ended up paying the equivalent of $6 for a mini jar of Skippy’s at Castroni’s. Dumb. Tom also had to eat some interesting and equally expensive breakfast cereals. Basically, if you can’t live without it and it’s thoroughly American, you better bring it with you.

The Final Days

We had a great ego boost this weekend in the form of dear friends telling us how much they loved reading this blog while we were in Rome. Sailing on those compliments, I will write a few words and throw some photos up to capture our final adventures in the lovely city we were fortunate to call “home” for a month.

We finally made it!! Sunday 10:30 Latin Mass

We finally made it!! Sunday 10:30 Latin Mass

Lucy contemplates the marble floor of St. Peter's

Lucy contemplates the marble floor of St. Peter’s


A tourist took this attempt at a family shot. Pretty much failed.

Our first anniversary weekend was packed with activity, all on the hottest days of our entire time there! On Friday we metro/trained out to see the tomb of St. Josemaria Escriva, and were given a private tour of the Opus Dei headquarters. We got abysmally lost on the way home in an attempt to beat the train, which was only leaving every 30 minutes. Suffice it to say, it took us many more than 30 minutes to get to the next stop on foot… oops. Also, no pictures. Sorry!

Saturday… the day we conquered St. John Lateran (finally) and Catacombs! We succeeded in getting into and taking in the impressive sights in San Giovanni.

Tom"s turn to ponder

Tom”s turn to ponder


St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel, of the flayed martyrdom fame

St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel, of the flayed martyrdom fame

Taken especially for our nephew, Nathaniel

Taken especially for our nephew, Nathaniel

IMG_0510Afterwards, we had a sad lunch affair wherein we discovered the dismal truth that some Italians microwave frozen meals and call it food. It was a low on our Roman gastronomical journey for sure. Then we took a deep breath and headed back out in the heat o’ the day to metro and then catch a bus to the catacombs of St. Callistus. This is where the famous statue of St. Cecilia is displayed. We realized we’d both been before but oh well! The best part of the trip was that those catacombs are absolutely and blessedly chilly. Lucy, who was being such a trooper in that heat, loved finally getting a few minutes to cool off. Our tour guide had language issues, calling decay “degradation” and other such confusing things, but all in all, it was still amazing to see the ancient burial places. No photos were allowed here, so sorry again.  After waiting 30 minutes in the direct heat for a bus that was supposed to come in 6, we were on our way home again, and decided to take a taxi directly home from the Piramide bus stop instead of metroing and walking the 25 minutes in such heat.

Finally, Sunday was our anniversary! We celebrated by attending a Mass at San Pietro. The line wasn’t too bad, and no matter what, it’s worth it. The Mass was beautiful, celebrated at the Altar of the Chair. The choir sang a few of our favorite polyphony pieces and since the Mass was celebrated mostly in Latin, it was definitely the one we understood and could follow the best.

Almost exactly one year after our honeymoon! Same dress, just add a baby!

Almost exactly one year after our honeymoon! Same dress, just add a baby!

The next day was our jaunt to Santa Marinella beach. On a more temperate day, I think this would’ve been a lovely trip. But Italian transportation is what it is, and the beach space is limited. And you pay through the nose for it. Lucy wasn’t thrilled to be so hot and sweaty and just couldn’t really get comfortable, so we didn’t end up staying too long. But long enough to dip her toes into the Mediterranean!


Gnome-baby, meet water

Gnome-baby, meet water



They've covered my eyes.

They’ve covered my eyes.

Finally asleep after shedding the gnome-suit.

Finally asleep after shedding the gnome-suit.


Please note the wall of umbrella/beach chairs behind us…



Home at last!

Last summer, when Tom and I were on our honeymoon Mediterranean cruise, we were forced to eat dinner at the same table as an elderly couple (well, as “elderly” as one can manage to not look with enough cosmetic surgery!). They were what we called “super cruisers” who quite literally spend 2/3 of the year cruising all over the world. They informed us that they have begun to eschew plane travel, because, “first class tickets are just so expensive!! We’d rather just take a boat over to England. Takes longer, but way more comfortable.” At the time, we thought they were crazy for sailing from New York to wherever their actual cruise port was, but, I must say that after our disastrous experience with our plane ride home, I would rather cruise across the Atlantic too. Oh my gosh.

I won’t go into details here, lest your eyeballs bleed, but basically, our flight that was supposed to arrive in D.C. at 3:30 PM arrived at 12:00 AM. That included an emergency landing in Boston, a two hour sit-in on the plane while they attempted to fix it while we had no A.C., and then a woefully disorganized/chaotic de-boarding and 3 hour wait for our rescue plane. Would’ve been manageable BUT Lucy does NOT like confined spaces or not being able to be walked around, plus the teething. So we had a very, sad, fussy, screaming, not-sleeping infant. I wanted to pull all my hairs out. Thankfully, my lovely parents rescued us from the evil clutches of TSA and inept airlines and we stayed the (rest of the) night with them.

Needless to say, I am DONE flying for a good, long while, and Lucy probably has infant PTSD. On the bright side, we are home safely and enjoying all things American, like Target’s gleaming aisles, multiple doting relatives to hold the baby, AC in all rooms and all buildings everywhere, car travel, Mexican food and mac ‘n cheese, anddd NETFLIX STREAMING. Is it sad that we really looked forward to that??!! Yes, probably. Lucy seems very happy to be home and cooler and not schlepped around as much. She also is sleeping a tad bit better, knock on wood.

Tom has been heroic enough to board another plane, and is in Wyoming for a Latin 10-day convention (or basically, a Latin-speaking summer camp, complete with a back-packing trip. I hope he knows how to say, “Look out for that angry mama Grizzly!” in Latin).  We will miss him greatly, but my parents have generously opened their home to host Lucy and I for the week. Again, she is just the most popular little lady around here, and Mom loves that. Next week, we head to the shores in Maryland for a beach week and Tom will join us there half-way through.

I really need to get the pictures from him, and when I do I will post about our last week in Rome!

Ciao for now!