Pumpkin Patch and Apple Picking

A couple weeks ago, we visited an apple orchard for the first time. We went to a little farm that we went strawberry picking to last year, and were pleasantly surprised to see they also had a very nice pick your own pumpkin patch (I insist on going to a patch where they don’t have the pumpkins out of the patch).



We had so much fun! They had four varieties of apples to pick, though we skipped the red delicious. We picked Melrose, Empire and Golden Delicious. The farm lets you try one each of the apples, so the kids had a couple right there in the orchard.




This was the best picture I could get every time I requested they stand next to each other for a photo. I gave up!


Grandma came with us and she pointed out the woolly bear caterpillars. We saw two while we were there, and managed not to squish them. The kids might have been more fascinated by it than the apples.


Coraline knocked an apple off without meaning to and tried to put it back. It got funnier when Jameson tried to help her put it back too! We took it home instead when it wouldn’t stay…


We’ve made apple crisp, eaten raw, and made dehydrated cinnamon sugar apple rings with our apples. We don’t have too many left. I think next year we could buy more if we store them properly in the cold garage. The fresh apples taste amazing!

There was a cute hayride back from the apple orchard, and we rode it all around again. Then we decided to go ahead and pick pumpkins too. Jameson of course tried to pick the biggest one he could carry.



Coraline searched for “baby” pumpkins. We found a couple, but they were only baby ones because they didn’t grow properly, so her baby one we took home has since rotted (she didn’t notice when we made it disappear).





We used finger paints to paint a couple of the pumpkins and put them safely out of the rain underneath our porch. The rest are still awaiting carving since we haven’t had much time to do it yet. But we’ll get it done before or on Halloween! Jameson’s teacher at school told us that he loved the pumpkin goop from the one they carved in class, so it should be a good time.

Continue Reading

Surprise Birthday


Brian’s dad surprised Becky with a birthday party in August! Under the guise of a very small group of friends enjoying their own version of Vintage Ohio, the party grew over the course of the afternoon until Becky realized what was up!


My contribution to the big event was an enormous photo of Becky’s senior portrait requested by Ed, printed with Staples Engineer Print option. Close up, it’s grainy and out of focus — I did some blurring to eliminate the halftone and you can’t help but lose quality blowing something 1 inch or so across into 18 inches!

Plenty of cars stopped to stare at the photo, which looks great from a bit of distance. Mission accomplished!



The kids had a blast. Coraline loves her olives! We tried to keep them from loving on their grandma too much so she could enjoy her party and socialize with her friends, but it was hard to keep them apart!



The cake was from a local place, a carrot cake which is Becky’s favorite. Pecans coated the sides!




The kids needed to get to bed, so we headed out early in what turned out to be a late night party! It was a huge success. Brian, his dad and sister all did a wonderful job putting it on.

Continue Reading

Pumpkin Time

Over Labor Day Weekend, we did our annual tradition to visit the Canfield Fair. Minutes away from arrival, Coraline said she had to go potty and promptly had an accident without trying to hold it. It was a bit frustrating to be less than a minute from a gas station bathroom she couldn’t used but we had bought a change of clothes (and smartly returned her to pull ups for the rest of the day).

We started with the pumpkins, because I like to get photos done early in the morning before it gets too crowded. Plus they’re my favorite. I love to see the giant pumpkins.



Jameson enjoyed himself this year, and made observations about some of the crafted items with the pumpkins. He overall really enjoyed himself, and there was only minor discontent about the fact that we only had one stroller. Coraline didn’t want to get her photo taken, but otherwise was her usual cheery self.



After pumpkins, we visited some of the animals. This sheep was very affectionate, and was vocal about his requests for being petted. I think he was sad when we went to leave! Coraline was a bit intimidated by the large animals, but was happy to pet anything small or not able to get at her, like the bunnies. This year we were a bit bummed that there weren’t any poultry: no chickens, turkeys, or ducks! This rule was apparently across all Ohio fairs.



We had an early lunch, our traditional cavatelli. Jameson had a hotdog, and the stand I got my pasta at was kind enough to split it so that Coraline could have some plain. I was pretty good at not overeating at the fair this year. I had a couple fries, but I didn’t have much of anything else to eat but my lunch and a lemonade. It wasn’t really on purpose, so I was a little bummed when we got home that I hadn’t tried anything else. The kids kept us busy!


This year they had a giant metal rooster to hang a lock on (which they also had last year but we must have missed it). They sold locks, and Jameson sat down to write his name on his. I was impressed he was able to write small enough to fit his name on the lock! We hung it up, and even though Jameson initially wanted to keep the lock, he was happy enough with just the keys to take home.





The health and wellness building had a lot more interactivity for kids this year, and Jameson played a big version of Operation.



We couldn’t miss out on doing at least a few rides. Coraline refused all rides until Jameson climbed on the Batman one, and at the last minute she changed her mind to join him. When the ride started I think maybe she was regretting her decision, but she was happy when she was done!



We didn’t go in the little historical village, but we did try something new. We fed butterflies! There was nectar to dip your finger into, and the butterflies would rest and eat on your hand. Coraline only had one land once, and after that preferred to watch. Jameson was very into it and tried all the butterflies he could. We saw one of Coraline’s friends from school, Teagan, there too.

The monarch butterfly was heavier than I expected!




The kids were getting hot and tired, so we started back to the front of the fair. On our way, we purchased a couple beanie babies for the kids at $2 a piece, which was pretty amazing compared to what they used to cost us when I collected them as a kid.

We visited Old McDonald’s barn, a baby and small animal petting barn. Coraline sat with a bunny for a while with Aunt Holly.


We finished our trip at the popcorn machine, where Jameson had a little meltdown when he wanted more that signaled it was time to leave! We had a good time with Meemaw, Grandpa, Aunt Holly and Grandpa’s cousin Linda who joined us this year.

We definitely aren’t able to spend a full day at the fair yet, but in a couple years we might. I missed out on the crafting and quilting buildings this year, and some other things I like to see that we haven’t really been able to since Jameson was little and napping in the stroller. But I was happy with what the kids got to see, and we had fun!




Continue Reading

Summers End

Coraline has been the most disappointed by summers end I think, in that she doesn’t understand why she must wear pants when she wants to wear a skirt. I tried to compromise this morning with leggings with the skirt, and she got over the trauma after a bit. The other day I had her in a quarter sleeve shirt, and she would tug the sleeves down and push them up. She was very confused as to why they were at her elbow!

Here’s a mish mash of summer highlights, as captured by my phone on the go! The big girl camera stayed in the bag for a while, but I’m starting to bring it back out.

In his element

Splish splash

We had season passes to the local waterpark, and Jameson loved it! He got very brave this summer, going down some bigger slides and tolerating a bit more water on his head. I think next year he’ll be hard to stop in the kid area. Coraline was a little less excited after a little dunking at the end of a slide a couple times. She only wanted to do one slide. She did get a kick out of the life jacket in the wave pool though as long as I was holding on to her.

Sliding buddies

It's hot

We had quite a bit of time with our own little pools and enjoying fun with the neighbors! We also did the farmer’s market again this year and did our crop share program with a local organic farmer. It’s still going on this weekend (here’s a peak at what we got a couple years ago when I did weekly photos)

A beautiful flower at the farmers market

Jameson learned how to pump his swing himself! And Coraline hopped on the big girl swing a few times, getting braver each time.

Swing swing swing

We also finally got out our big water bouncer again after Brian did some patch work to it! We invited friends over a few times to enjoy the summer weekends. Watermelon was almost always involved, the quintessential summer treat.

Say "watermelon!"

With goodbyes to summer, I am welcoming Coraline in adorable tunic shirts, Jameson in beanie hats, and cuddling with Brian for warmth (cause he likes it freezing. WHY?!).

Continue Reading

Italy: Florence


First things first. After checking into our hotel, we needed food. Pizza at Food Il Cavallino fit the bill nicely! This place has pretty poor reviews online, but was recommended by our hotel and we stuck with the pizza that was recommended which was great. We conveniently arrived just before it started raining, so we were protected from the deluge. We hadn’t brought umbrellas, just ponchos, and our time in Florence was the only time we needed to use them. We ended up buying cheap (cheaply made, not cheaply bought) umbrellas during our stay here.


We stayed at Hotel Maxim in Florence, and it took us a bit to find it, but only because we must both be directionally challenged, because as we discovered, Florence is not that big. And Hotel Maxim is right smack in the center of it.

The hotel was nicer than Rome in that it felt very safe to be so central and SO convenient to be able to stop off midday to use the bathroom, but it was also smaller. There were twists and turns in the narrow hallways of this old building, but we were very happy there was an elevator! Breakfast wasn’t too shabby either, mom was happy with the tea here.


Our only scheduled plans for the day were to go to the Accademia Gallery in the afternoon to see the David. We definitely had to buy tickets for that ahead of time! We passed the Duomo on the way there, and were awed by this enormous church rising up in the middle of the city. I was also very excited that central Florence is pedestrian-only.


The David was more than I imagined he would be: he was huge! I was, like everyone before me I’m certain, in awe of the details. The veins in his stone arms, and the pupils in his eyes which I could really only see close up with the zoom on my camera, he was so tall!


Aside from the David, the Accademia is filled with unfinished works and students’ work, which are lovely all the same. I loved seeing the big wall of heads. The hall of musical instruments was a second favorite.


We left the Accademia and decided there was enough time before closing to climb the Bell Tower, just to the right of the Duomo if you are facing it. We ended up deciding that maybe we had enough time to climb the Duomo as well, and we liked the fact that it wasn’t crowded during this time of day, so we hurried to do both. We ended up climbing 877 steps total to do both.










Worth it.

Now’s a great time to talk about my camera bag! I purchased a bag for the trip because I was concerned both about storage and pick pockets. I ended up buying a Pacsafe, in a discontinued color that was more affordable. I love this bag.

It was comfortable, clearly not a backpack (which was important because several sites do not let you bring backpacks in anymore at the discretion of whoever is at the security gate that day – like at the Colosseum), and had a bunch of security features without being too heavy. Plus, the camera was still easy to get to. I was happy it had the pockets on the sides for waterbottles, which came in handy daily.



We ate at Il Teatro our first night, and after a bottle of wine, the Duomo lit up at night was even more awe-inspiring. The lights on the building were impressive. The crowds were completely gone, and we circled the building all the way around, taking in the detail.





Our next day started early with our scheduled booking at the Uffizi museum, famous for it’s collection of Italian paintings. I personally was most impressed with the building itself. Every ceiling was a work of art and unique.




From the Uffizi, we could get a great view of the famous Ponte Vecchio.


After our time in the Uffizi, we went back to the Duomo to see the Baptistry and go inside the church (we had only been able to go in the Dome itself the evening prior). The Baptistry exterior was under construction, but the inside was open and beautiful. The gold panels on the ceiling really impressed mom, who had to get a photo of each one.



It was a lot more crowded in Florence this day, so we waited a bit to get into the cathedral. We were behind a school line (awkwardly in the middle for a while), but once we got in it was easy enough to move forward ahead of them. The interior was just as awe-inspiring as outside, with huge arches and a wide expanse of just space. These buildings are really marvels of construction for their time (or any time).



The Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral has layers of churches and temples beneath it, which was fascinating. You can go underneath and see where they’re “peeled back” these layers. The information is a bit confusing to read, but we gathered from our Rick Steve’s info what we needed to understand what we were seeing.


We did a lot of shopping, since were done with most of our plans for the day after that! After finding some lunch (also to escape the rain) at Restaurante Paoli (so so but satisfying), we visited the Medici Chapel, which maybe wasn’t worth the money but dark and glorious in color. Famous for, including other things, the statue of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo.



We also wandered the city and walked through the flea market and did more shopping along the way. We bought jewelry, and I found things for the kids. We even got waffles to eat outside the Duomo, an excellent snack by default for location, and very tasty.


That night we ate outside at one of the many restaurants lining Piazza della Signoria by the Uffizi. We had another lovely night before our winery tour the next day! It was nice not to rush so much to get to everything we wanted to do as we had in Rome, but difficult as the scheduler to figure out what to do with our down time!


Continue Reading

Bubbles & Pine Cones

The weather’s starting to feel like fall today, so this is a nice throwback to the heat this summer. We had a cookout with Grandma, Poppa and Aunt Melissa for the rest of our 4th of July weekend. Coraline is wearing an outfit that was mine growing up, so fun to see her in it!

The kids love to collect pine cones beneath Grandma’s tree, which they call the “Tree House”.




They don’t know it, but all the pine cones they collect actually get returned out to the tree prior to them visiting, so they can re-collect over and over again. Never-ending fun!


They also played with bubbles, and kept anyone watching them busy by running around, up and down the hill and to the creek to throw rocks and back.




This photo of the two of them was cute, but I noticed after I took it that Jameson’s hair was in his face. So, I tried to get them to go back down the hill to take it again. However, Coraline started running way too quick on the steep hill and slammed onto her face.

After about 10 minutes of recovering, crying, and asking to go back up the hill, Jameson actually joined us and she perked up again.


And so I got this beautiful gem, the best photo of the two of them I’ve taken in a long time, no crazy photoshop needed. It’s hanging large on our kitchen collage wall now! I’m glad that committed to re-taking the photo, despite our mishap (and Coraline probably believing I was the worst mommy ever for a time).

Continue Reading

4th of July Friends + Mini Pies

We tried to get a family photo this 4th of July (I did), but everyone wanted to get their swimsuits on instead of smiling. So… it’s not terrible, minus my double chin.


We went over to JP & Lisa’s house for a cookout, and the kids had a blast. Coraline was a little bit shy/anxious/unhappy for a bit until she warmed up.


Jameson jumped right in, though.




The kids had a couple pools to splash in, swingset, little trampoline, and these cool air powered foam rockets. It was all fun and games until Coraline got hit in the face (okay it was still pretty funny without injury). Coraline’s little foot had no power and the rocket went up about two feet. Jameson’s soared, but he wasn’t great a paying attention to his environment and who was around him.


Jonathan’s new swingset was a hit!



The meal was a full array of meat, and dessert was ice cream and mini pies I made. Coraline is more of an ice cream girl, but everyone loved the mini pies. I brought over blueberry, strawberry apple is pictured below.

For the crust, I followed my grandma’s basic recipe. For blueberry filling, I followed this, and strawberry apple, this. Idea came from here!

Mini strawberry pies


When we got home, I expected to send the kids right up to bed, but the neighbors were out, so we stayed up for a bit playing with pop it’s and sparklers.





Coraline LOVED the pop its. She played with them long after the other kids moved on to other things. Both of them were a little uncertain about the sparklers though – once was enough. It was a great day with friends, and wonderful to really enjoy the hot weather after a long rainy spell in June.

I also really enjoyed getting my bakery on. I don’t feel like I have time usually (or inclination, since we’re busy with making it through daily life), but I enjoyed making the mini pies which we ate all through that holiday weekend!

Continue Reading

Italy: Pompeii

Instead of taking an organized tour or bus from Rome, we opted on the “DIY” approach to visiting Pompeii from Rome. We got tickets to Naples on the first high speed train that morning, and then went around in circles a couple times before we found where we needed to purchase the local train tickets to Pompeii.

It was nerve wracking and time consuming, yes, but we also get to spend the whole day wandering the city and visiting the areas we wanted to see. On the other hand, when we were done and exhausted, we still had to make our way back! We also didn’t have access to a great tour guide describing what we were seeing. However, we really did appreciate being without the big groups. We did it, but we were totally wiped out by the end.


When we first arrived, we struggled to get our bearings for a bit and missed some of the views when you first enter on that side of the city. We finally stopped to look around in the big open square which includes a lot of awesome structures around the sides including the forum, the marketplace (Macellum), and temples.





Building of Eumachia

Heading straight into the city from there, we pass beneath an arch gate, and stopped to get some food. Near there is also a bath house, the men’s side is restored and open. In the morning, the line was really long, so we were able to enter later in the afternoon, luckily between groups and got some great photos of this building without a lot of other people.




Aside from the modern restaurant, there are a lot of “fast food joints” in Pompeii. These counter tops with openings were places that served food all throughout the city.


At this point, we were still trying to listen to our Rick Steve’s tour, but having trouble finding the identifying areas to tell us where we were at. Soon, we started exploring any buildings that were open (there was a paper sign by the ticket office that I took a photo of which told us what was open that day), and following the map. If there was a match to our tours, then we listened.


House of the Tragic Poet

The stone walkway here was actually a pedestrian crossing, and the number of stones crossing the street indicated whether it was a one way or two way street. Wagon wheels would fit between the stones, and you could see those wheel ruts still clearly in some of the roads. It was pretty tough and uneven walking!


A few buildings we went in included the House of the Tragic Poet, House of the Faun, House of the Prince of Naples, Casa dell Ara Massima, Casa degli Amorini Dorati, Casa di Marco Lucrezio, Casa di Casca Longus. I couldn’t get enough of the paintings on the walls (restored, of course), and I loved the big courtyards in the homes of the rich. We also saw a lot of ruins of houses that were clearly of the poor — few small rooms, not restored, just open ruins.


House of the Faun



House of the Prince of Naples



Casa dell Ara Massima


Casa degli Amorini Dorati

The restored tile floor in the Casa degli Amorini Dorati was my favorite.


Throughout the city grew wild poppies!



The Central Baths, which were unfinished at the time of the eruption, weren’t open, but we could see the large open space through the gates.


The people of Pompeii had plumbing with lead pipes!


The Casa di Casca Longus, so named from this table of lions (a replica for certain; most of the genuine artifacts are in a museum in Naples which we did not visit)


There are even real vineyards, right within Pompeii!


The Amphitheatre was also closed, sadly!




We particularly liked seeing the graveyards at the ends of the city. The one we enjoyed most was the necropolis near the Porta Nocera (another entrance to get into Pompeii). The graves were fascinating, and beautifully landscaped amongst the ruins.




We reentered the city proper from here, setting out to see the last few sites on our list. There were a few sections and streets entirely closed off, and when taking detours we missed a few sites. We stopped at the restroom though and encountered the most awesome view of the city we had seen yet, with a clear line to the infamous Mount Vesuvius.




Our last stops were at the small theater and gladiator training grounds (and the larger theater too, but we couldn’t find a way in after circling around nearly 3 times!) before we found ourselves back by the forum and where we originally entered.



After going into the bathhouse, we made our way out, passing by the Basilica, also closed, but a final view of the awesome ruins of Pompeii.


It’s hard to believe, but this was a very brief overview of all the sites we saw! Pompeii was truly a city, and we walked the breadth of the city the entire day, and still felt like we had seen only the major sites. Given that at any time, many other buildings and houses could be open, you could return and have an entirely different experience.

I had debated seeing Pompeii over Herculaneum, and truly if we could’ve done them all, we would have, but this was a great choice. It was fun exploring the city, finding ourselves in some streets without any other tourists, and marking on the map the number of the photo I had taken so we could reference back to it later. So much history, so little time.

Continue Reading

Italy: Rome, Part 2

After lunch, we visited the Capuchin Crypt, with chapels filled with bones. We weren’t allowed to take photos, so we picked up some postcards. It was truly creepy to be amongst all the bones shaped into art.

Then we headed to see the Pantheon in the daylight and so we could also see the inside.





The Pantheon just appears right in the middle of the city, and is surrounded by all kinds of tourist attractions: musicians, gelato, and this little Pinocchio wood shop that was in every major city we visited and still managed to be super charming.




Inside, we listened to another Rick Steve’s tour. It was crowded, but not overwhelming. Spent some time sitting at the pews just looking around at all the history around us. I was very excited that the oculus on top was not obstructed under renovation the way it was the last time I was in Rome.





Raphael’s tomb lies in the Pantheon behind glass.


We traveled then to Piazza Navona and popped in a couple churches on the way. We got a little lost finding it, which is funny to think on now since it’s a large piazza. The sun was beginning to set. The activity in the piazza was awesome to see along with the colors painted on the buildings surrounding it. I loved walking through the artists displays there. There were a lot of entertainers here.




It was still early for dinner, so we decided to walk through Campo de Fiori, which during the morning hours has a large market, and in the evening was a more simple square with some restaurants. We crossed over the Tiber and walked a couple streets through Trastevere (not much, since it was getting dark and we were looking forward to getting closer to the hotel before eating dinner).





We crossed back over to the Jewish Ghetto through Tiber Island, and saw a couple ruins, one of which was unidentified (at least from our vantage point). I still don’t know what exactly we were looking at here.


As we headed back closer to our hotel, we saw the Largo di Torre Argentina, which is closed to a site where Julius Caesar was killed. There was also a ton of cats, which it’s apparently well known for.


Finally, we saw the Vittorio Emmanuel monument, also known as the Altar of the Fatherland, lit by the setting sun.


We looked up some places to eat on our walk back, and decided on Trattoria Il Girasole Roma. Mom was very excited that they had a polenta special, but they unfortunately were out! They made up for it though with atmosphere. We really enjoyed the live piano music, the truly authentic, small restaurant atmosphere, and the food, of course.



My feet at the end of the day, covered in dust and dirt! I walked the entire trip, which mom’s pedometer says was 67 miles total, in Sketchers Go Walks, and they were amazing. I never had any pain in my feet, despite the endless walking. I felt like we crossed the entire city and back this day!


Coming up: Pompeii!

Continue Reading

Italy: Rome, Part 1

I’m sorry for the silence here. It’s been a busy several weeks! I have been working on backing up photos, processing photos from my vacation, and enjoying every possible moment outside that it’s not raining. I think it rained for 3 weeks straight!

At the end of May, my mom and I left for a vacation to Italy! Our itinerary included Rome, Pompeii, Florence, and Venice. We decided a few years ago that I would play tour guide for my mom in Italy (since I have been to Europe before, I felt moderately qualified), and we would go together to see a country that she has always wanted to see. We finally pulled the trigger early this year, and I spent a lot of time planning our route, hotels, and activities.


We landed in Rome, and finally made it to the hotel several hours after we anticipated arriving. Unfortunately, first impressions were not great. We struggled to get through customs. The crowds, line jumping near the front, general herding of people not in lines at all, and the lack of air conditioning was really not the way I would’ve liked to introduce my mom to Italy! But I had high expectations that our trip would get progressively better, and it did!

I have been to Rome before, and while I think you can’t really miss it if you’ve never been to Italy, I also think it’s more city than I prefer, and I’m not sure that I’d go again. Rome isn’t even that big, and the traffic is much better than it was when I visited 10 years ago, but it’s still just not for me. However, we did get to do some things that I wasn’t able to when I visited as a poor college student, so it was definitely an experience worth having again.


Our first evening in Rome post-flight, we traveled from our hotel relatively close to the train station to the Spanish Steps. We walked up a major road to the intersection of the Quattro Fontane (Four Fountains). I remember these being particularly exciting when I visited years ago because here we are, in a city with regular busy traffic, people working, etc., and then BAM here’s some ancient sculptures at a random intersection.




It was also pretty spectacular to view the Spanish Steps from above and make our way down.


Our dinner that night at Cucina & Vista boasted a view of the Spanish Steps, which was really a tiny window across the room. Regardless, it was nice to relax that evening indoors, and mom had the most tender gnocchi I have ever tasted.


Despite our exhaustion after dinner, I suggested we visit some of the sights at night, an activity I had missed out on last time since we had stayed outside the city. I really had a hard time navigating in Rome, but I got progressively better each day (I was a pro by the time we left, of course). We managed to find our way to the Temple of Hadrian and the Pantheon before calling it in for the night. We got back really late as I struggled to find the hotel at night from a different direction.





Oh the hotel. That was an experience on it’s own! We stayed at Hotel Saturnia, and our room had a separate entrance. The main entrance for the hotel was in a fairly wide alley, the size of a regular street but blocked to regular traffic. It wasn’t creepy, but it was different to have to go to the main entrance on a side street, get our ancient-looking key, and go back up around the corner, ring a bell, and enter 2 doors before entering our room. Stairs in Italy were a given, but the rest was new to us.

We also got stuck going in and going out at the door to our floor. There was a trick to pulling and pushing while turning the key that we didn’t observe when they first showed us in, and a button we couldn’t see to get out. It wouldn’t have been pretty had there been a fire! Luckily we had our phones, and mine was on an international plan with T-Mobile, so there was no charge when I needed to use it to call the front desk to help us out.

The bathroom, and really the room itself, was bigger than any of the rest during our stay in Italy, and was remodeled, so it wasn’t bad sleeping or staying there aside from our experience coming and going. We had a nice breakfast in the morning before heading off to see the Colosseum. We had tickets to go inside, and that was also something I had missed out on during my last visit!

Walking to the Colosseum was really easy from our hotel, but disappointing that there was construction along the side of the road as we approached. The Colosseum itself though was relatively unobstructed and still an awe-inspiring sight.



Tour guides tried to get us to buy their services and street vendors were hawking selfie sticks. We may have been asked about 10,000 times but we never bought a selfie stick. We were a little concerned at first because we had bought entry tickets already and the line seemed very long, but even though the line looks long for ticket holders, it moved very fast.

We used Rick Steves’ Audio Guide for the Colosseum. We tried to use it for some other sites, but it was harder in the Forum and Pompeii when you can’t tell exactly what you’re looking at. For the Colosseum it was perfect!






After the Colosseum, we crossed over to Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum. It was hard to tell what we were looking at on Palantine Hill, but beautiful nonetheless. We enjoyed the shade for a bit and the endless supply of ancient ruins. We should’ve stopped for lunch and brought it in with us. We saw a number of people picnicking on the hill (not the Roman Forum section, which was much more crowded). We were really very hungry by the time we finished at the Roman Forum, and I was incredibly dusty and dirty foot to knee.







View of the Roman Forum from the top of Palantine Hill

We tried listening to Rick Steves in the Roman Forum, but the route or buildings had changed a bit and I gave up midway through, picking and choosing when I could tell what we were looking at.


One building we were able to enter was the Temple of Romulus.



We were able to see Caesar’s grave, the remains of the House of the Vestal Virgins, and a number of unidentified (by me) ruins.


This is the Temple of Castor and Pollux below.



For our late lunch, we weren’t willing to travel far! We stopped at Bar Pasticceria Ciardi, which seems to have a variety of atmospheres for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We felt like we had a good meal there despite the proximity to the touristy area (they say the farther you get from those areas, the better the food).

I really loved seeing all the ancient ruins: dust, hunger, heat and all. It felt so satisfying to come back to Rome, 10 years later, and visit some sites I had always wanted to get inside. I finally felt like I was really in Italy after the long travel the day before. Italy, we’re here!

Spanish Steps 3

Me, 10 years ago at the Spanish Steps.

Continue Reading