The Italian piccoli nonne chimed “bello bello bello” at my blue-eyed boys on buses, trains, and the streets of Rome.  I taught the boys to say “grazie” in response to the cheek pinching, head kissing, eye poking women.  And when “grazie” just wasn’t enough on the train one day, L sought to appease the nonna by responding to her Italian ogling with, “I am just 4 years old”.

ROME TOP TEN LIST (in no particular order):

Gelato.  This was our deal with E, L, and J:  you walk, you eat gelato.  Every day.  All day.  And, though eating any gelato is better than eating none, here are some tips on picking out a good gelato, in Italy or elsewhere.

Color – the gelato should be the color of the fruit, mushed.  For example, a banana gelato should be an ugly gray color, not bright yellow.

Shape – Gelato is soft.  And if found presented in great mounds, you can be sure that this is not natural.

The Pantheon.

IMG_9405

Trevi Fountain.  We counted 40+ different fountains during our week’s tour of Rome.  Come to find out, there are 2,500 working fountains in the city, and Trevi is the most famous of the fountains (and the most crowded).

All 2,500 fountains – ornate or simple – have drinkable water.  Considering the temperatures during our visit, this was a very welcomed surprise.

The Colosseum.  I was blown away by the enormity of the ancient ruin.  We spent an entire day at the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, alone.

IMG_9508

While at the Colosseum, we purchased an interactive book for the children, ROME RECONSTRUCTED.  This brilliant find tutored the children through each of the Roman sites.

Pizza at Dar Poeta in Trastevere.  Around a quiet corner, this small pizzeria was the best pizza we experienced in Rome.  The children shared a nutella and ricotta calzone.

Spanish Steps.  As seen on Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn.  Here we sat for a spell, and people-watched.  Street entertainers and self-proclaimed artists, street vendors and tourists doling out their moneys.

IMG_9711

Largo di Torre Argentina.  History suggests this is the location of Julius Ceasar assassination.  But that is not what drew us to the ruins (surprise surprise).  The public square is a cat sanctuary.  There are many stray cats in Rome.  And at Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, you can find cats of different breeds wandering among the temple ruins, making this location top on the children’s list.

Shopping.  We shopped for Italian produce at the Campo de Fiori.  We shopped for Italian purses (hey, we were in Italy!) and even bought one, thanks to an obliging Italian water-buffalo.

LDS Rome Temple site.  It’s a long walk from public transportation, and, at the time, there was really nothing yet to be seen.  But we sat on the curb and discussed Christian missionaries like Peter and Paul who taught and possibly died in Rome.

When ants started crawling on the children’s toes, L soberly said, “These are holy ants.”

Vatican City.  Saint Peter’s Basilica was absolutely breath taking.  I cannot add any more to the description without taking away from the beauty of the white domed edifice.

We saw Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.  Crowded.  If it were a bit quieter in the chapel, itself, I believe it would have truly been a sacred experience.  The Creation of Adam has always moved me, seeing God near to falling out of the clouds, reaching for his most prized creation – man.

Just outside the Vatican, Bryant found a lovely Fontanini nativity to bring home with us.  We kept the beautiful nativity on display in our home long after Christmas, and took it down closer to the Easter season.

 

Today is Ash Wednesday.  The children asked me if they could participate in Lent.  Though not normally observed by Mormons, I consented:  Ummm.  Okay.

I asked them what they wanted to fast from for 40 days.  L said bananas.  No.  J said food.  No.  L said toys.  No.  E said hard candies.  Done!

I told the children that they did not have to participate.  I told them that it was a big deal and asked them not to commit unless they fully planned on keeping their commitment.  They each said I WILL!  Great!  (And using “I will” is a powerful way to start a commitment!)   They then wrote their individual “I will” commitments in their personal journals.

E‘s journal entry and commitment was long and eloquent.

L got right to the point:  “I WILL fast from hard candy intel the 5th of April.”

J is still trying to grasp at the principle taught:  “On Easter I WILL eat candy.”

Felice mercoledì delle Ceneri.