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Out and about in Roma
We are now grandparents! And uncles! Officially! At 8:30 PM on February 26th, we heard the house phone ring, a good hour ahead of schedule. We were expecting the arrival of our daughter Dawn, her husband David, and our grandson/nephew Keegan, our second set of visitors from the US. Gail excitedly picked up the phone, but was perplexed to hear a male Italian voice at the other end. It turned out to be the car shuttle driver, announcing his passengers. We all ran to open the building gate, and within minutes we had a mini-family reunion.
Keegan Ryan Lee Miller Schaefer is, of course, much cuter than any of his photos. He was an excellent baby on both flights of what ended up being a 24-hour airplane trip to get here, although his mother did not do as well. There was extreme turbulence during the arrival at Amsterdam -- the plane tried to land unsuccessfully three times in an hour and a half -- and Dawn's stomach did not react well to that. But everyone had now safely arrived, and we spent the rest of the evening -- until midnight, in fact -- chatting, catching up on events, and playing with the baby.
(The next day's schedule was supposed to include a "Rome Orientation Tour," courtesy of the Scala Reale tour company, as a freebie for our longer tour in two days. However, it was due to start at 9:00 AM near the train station, a good hour-and-a-half walk away. We decided that no one was going to make it out of the apartment by 7:30 AM in the morning, so we decided to skip it.)
The Miller/Schaefers did as well as could be expected trying to get over jetlag on their first night. Keegan was up three times, ready to play. For the rest of us, our noisy neighbors began earlier than usual on the morning of February 27th -- two women began yelling at each other in Italian upstairs at 7:00 AM. So, all of us were up and out of bed by 9:00 AM. Thanks to our newly-relaxed schedule, we were able to enjoy a leisurely morning of breakfast and playing with the baby.
Our second scheduled event for the day, however, was not something that we wanted to skip. The Galleria Borghese is one of Roma's finest museums, housing two floors of Baroque sculpture and painting. It is privately owned, however, and has a strict reservation system. You must make reservations in advance for a specific date and time, and you are only allowed two hours in the museum before you must leave. Dawn had made reservations for all of us for today at 1:00 PM. Unfortunately, the Galleria Borghese is located even farther than yesterday's Museo Nazionale Romano, so we would have another long walk. We bundled ourselves up for the partially sunny day, put Keegan in his stroller, and set out at 11:00 AM. After carrying the stroller up the 100 steps of the Piazza di Spagna (the famous "Spanish Steps"), we arrived at the Villa Borghese an hour and a half later.
Climbing the Spanish Steps
Inside the Galleria Borghese, we used Rick Steves' Mona Winks and Dawn's art history minor to enhance our understanding of the sculptures by Bernini (the same man who designed the Piazza San Pietro in la Cittą del Vaticano) and the paintings by Caravaggio. The overall museum was smaller than we had anticipated, and we were finished within an hour and a half (partially due to the lack of crowds in the off-season). This left us time to grab lunch at the museum cafeteria and play with the baby.
Our walk back went much more leisurely. Dawn and David had been to Roma before, and they enjoyed touring us past the Piazza del Popolo (with its Egyptian obelisk -- moved from the Circo Massimo -- guarding one of the original entrances to Roma), the Piazza Navona (the largest piazza in Rome, with an incredible sculpted marble fountain by Bernini), and the Piazza Campo dei Fiori (containing Roma's flower and vegetable market). We also stopped at some of the street vendors, where Gail and Russell purchased some old map prints. Cameron and Joss enjoyed chasing the pigeons at each of the piazzi.
Dawn, Gail, and Keegan at one of Roma's original city gates
It was a long and tiring day, but the World Trippers gave Dawn and David a rare evening out so that they could actually enjoy a ristorante in Roma. This also gave us another chance to play with the baby.
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