Rome is the first big city that I have ever seen Scott enjoy as a whole. The kids have had a good time too and I love it, but I get enthusiastic about most anything. It does not feel like a city of over 2.6 million people. We have spent the last three days of our total five Rome days enjoying a good mix of things.
Saturday morning and early afternoon was dedicated to school. The kids are staying ahead in their lessons so far and it’s nice to work hard, even if it’s on a Saturday, and stockpile our time for the days that we want or need to play hooky.
The kids worked until they could sit no longer and then we walked to Villa Borghese Park via the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, both of which were under construction. The psycho tourist in me needed to see the fountain and steps, both iconic sights in Rome, and since they were on the way to the park it was easy to convince the rest of the family.
Trevi Fountain celebrates the abundance of water in Rome and is the fountain that you throw a coin into so that you will come back to Rome someday. About 3,000 Euros worth of coins get tossed in the fountain every day, over one million Euros every year, and it all goes to charity. That’s a lot of people who want to come back to Rome and hopefully we will too, even though we didn’t get to toss in a coin since there were signs everywhere that said “Fountain under construction, Do not toss coins.”
The Spanish Steps (called “Spanish” because of the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican located nearby) were also under construction. They were built in the 1720s by a little known architect and have been a hangout /people watching mecca for centuries.
Regardless of construction, there were a lot of people at both places and it was a relief to climb a steep hill and enter the Villa Borghese Gardens. This 146 acre park is home to the Borghese Gallery, a beautiful villa built by the Borghese family which contains an impressive art collection. We didn’t visit the museum because there are many museums and Rome and although the Borghese Villa is highly rated on all of the travel websites, the park is so much fun that we didn’t need to see anything else. We watched roller bladers of all ages and abilities having a great time. It was like a Saturday afternoon roller bladers club and the people watching the roller bladers were as interesting as the skaters.
We rented a surrey. Now, I am not a fan of surrey rides. They look fun and innocent and with most families a surrey ride probably is a relaxing thing. Not with my family. It’s not a surrey ride with us, but surrey riding, they treat it like a sport and all of the other surreys meandering around the park become competitors. As we mounted our surrey steed, the attendant noticed the unnatural gleam in the children’s eyes and said “only adults drive!” (with an Italian accent). This made me smile. I would be the adult driving and I would squash that surrey riding mentality and we would have a nice afternoon spin around the park. It didn’t quite work out that way for two reasons.
This surrey that we were riding had some auto assist mechanism for the normal type surrey people that are just taking it easy and might want a little help up the hills but this mechanism was not my friend. I welcome the hills to slow my crazy family down. So, as the driver I had the brake and when I pedaled a motor turned on that helped propel the surrey. I thought that I had all of the power, but when I braked everyone yelled at me and if Scott pedaled in the seat behind me my pedals turned forcefully on their own. This was not relaxing so after fifteen minutes of being yelled at for using the brake and having my feet attacked by my own poltergeist infected pedals, I turned the driver’s seat over to Scott. It was exactly as I expected, sheer madness, but the kids were laughing and we did pass or swerve out of the way of a few other male (always) maniacal surrey riders.
We careened to a stop (our surrey bucking and snorting) at a snack stand because all three children needed some sugar to fuel their madness. I chose an alcoholic beverage which allowed me to at least squeeze my eyes tightly shut as we flew down a steep and curving hill toward a barrier only to pedal back up again and play chicken with taxis in a traffic circle.
As crazy as it was, it was a lot of fun. We returned our surrey to its stable and stopped to admire the sunset and the view as we left the park.