• Italy Final: Rome

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    From Florence to Rome was a beautiful three-hour drive through the country. The girls were fabulous, Roger and I were armed and ready with FOOD (which they ate the whole three hours!), gidgets and gadgets that whirl, twill and keep any toddler occupied for five minutes or so and MUSIC. My parents sent us not one but two CD’s from my child hood called HIDE’EM in your heart…a scripture singing CD by Steve Green. Well we have listened to those two albums all over Italy! And Marion and Davina can sing almost all of the songs! That CD saved us from a crying trip a few times!

    It was a bit wild driving downtown Rome, on our google maps directions there were 54 steps to take from the out side of Rome to our hotel downtown. But of course Roger did not take even one wrong turn! Once again Roger found a lovely hotel for us. The balcony view was of ancient Roman ruins! We called Dad and Mom and they met us pronto...what a nice reunion! We heard all about their adventures down south. Their pictures boasted of many more wonderful places to see in Italy. We were glad they had a wonderful time but I was determined to keep them close the next day as I was aware that good-bye was just around the corner. That evening we walked around the city had dinner and just took in Rome at night. The following morning Roger, bright eyed, woke me with excited kisses. He was in Rome and eager to explore! We met Dad and Mom at 10:00 am sharp! It was a brilliantly sunny day! We headed down the main ‘ancient’ road with the Colosseum ahead of us and the ancient Roman Forum on the right. Massive ancient buildings were scattered every way the eye looked. Arriving at the colosseum was spectacular. It was thrilling to walk through a building that was so old and held so much historic significance. Roger loved looking at the building through an engineer’s eye! How did the Romans possibly build such a building that was very used….and continues to stand. For me, who has a very active imagination, the place was rather eerie. To try to grasp and understand that so many people lost their lives based on a sport. To walk and see that the stories we hear about gladiators, slain slaves and captives, martyred Christians are all true. I could feel the weight of this place! It was amazing to go see and experience the great coliseum. From there we walked through the Forum and the ancient ruins of the Emperors castles. Again we were stunned by the grandeur of the buildings still standing! We spent a few good hours roaming through ruins, it was very beautiful. It was not hard imagining what it might have been like two thousand years ago.

    That evening we went for a ‘fancy’ dinner as it was our last with Dad and Mom. Marion wanted to wear her new skirt and get all dressed up for her grandparents. Our dinner was perfect. We talked and laughed and reminisced about the two weeks we had together. We each said our favourite part of the trip. I think we all felt deep grateful for how wonderful the trip went. We each got captured by the beauty and culture (and of course the food) of Italy. We laughed a lot and shared from our hearts. We lingered as long as we could over the meal, as no one wanted it to end. Good-byes were sad and very teary.

    As soon as the door clicked behind Dad and Mom Marion all of a sudden realised that she had just said good-bye for good. I think it was her first time realising that it would be a long time until she saw her family again, it hit her how far we lived away from her family! She burst into sobbing tears crying and calling for Grandpa and Grandma. It was very hard for Roger and I to see Marion missing her family, her home, her Canada. Grandpa and Grandma had brought the girls a teddy bear when they came. The only way we were able to calm Marion down was when I used the teddy as a puppet and made the puppet ‘talk’ to Marion. The puppet said that she used to live at Grandpa and Grandpa’s house in Victoria, that her grandparents brought the teddy so Marion would be able to have a little piece of them with her at all times. The teddy went on to explain all about their house and how much they filled the teddy bear up with hugs and kisses so anytime Marion needed one she could get it from the teddy. After a half-hour of this Marion calmed down, but she has clung to that teddy since!

    That night as I laid in bed with my husbands arm around me, my little girls all tucked in tight, I thought about how hard us living in Africa must be for our parents. For now my little children can be kept close but one day they will be grown and maybe leave for the far corners of the world and my heart will break. I am grateful that we have parents who have been so supportive of us, who have cared and loved us with every step we have taken farther from the safety of their homes. We loved the time we had with Dad and Mom. Building so many beautiful memories, I believe, has knit our hearts closer together. We will always treasure the time we had in Italy with our dear parents! We love you both so much. Thank you for being our parents, for loving us, for caring for us as parents only can! You are so dear to us and we think of you as our closest of friends! Thank you for being the BEST TRAVEL BUDDIES! Again next year, right!?

    The next day brought a lot of sadness travelling without our parents. The Vatican Museum and St. Peters Cathedral were on the list for the day. Once again we were mesmerised by art! The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking. We could have spent hours just looking at the roof! Roger, Marion and I identified each bible story painting on the roof and walls while Davina yelled ‘bampa’ (grandpa) at any man older then thirty! St. Peters was….well…rich, wealthy! I think the apostle Peter would turn in his grave if he knew all the fuss the ‘church’ has made over him. Once again I was saddened by religion. The building it self looked at through the perspective of art was amazing…

    In the morning we packed the bags and headed to the airport hotel. We needed a day to gather supplies for Nigeria. But we did make one stop at IKEA! Oh it was so familiar and nice to walk through a store that had so many nice things. It felt like home! With our shopping done and each of us wearing new shoes we had one last dinner in Italy! Three thirty the next morning we were on our way back to Nigeria. We were on a flight from Rome to Holland with two age 50+ tour groups so you can imagine how the girls were the centre of attention! And my, did they put on a ‘cute’ show! During our four-hour delay in Holland we took in as much ‘civilization’ as we could knowing it was our last chance in six months! I bought ten dozen tulips to bring home with me to help me ease back into Nigerian living! The flight home went so well, the girls were AMAZING! Once in the Nigerian airport we had to deal with no electricity and baggage being delayed, then we waited on the bus for one more person who never showed so by the time we got home it had been a twenty hour day! But at least we did not have to deal with jet lag.

    The trip to Italy was more then I could have dreamt for! Everything was perfect. We have no regrets. We had a wonderful time building memories with each other and with our parents. We soaked in the countryside and the old city streets. We saw ancient buildings and paintings that have left their mark on history. I am a richer, smarter and very blessed person to be able to experience Italy. Thank you my dear Roger for whisking me away to romantic Italy! I will always treasure the time you gave me…where are you taking me next?

    The Colosseum.

    The one and only picture of all of us!

    Inside the Colosseum.

    Beneath the floor where the lions and gladiators waited.

    On the causeway where little girls now smile to have their picture taken!

    Palatine Hill opposite the Colosseum.

    Entrance to the Roman Forum to the right of Palatine Hill.

    A wing of Augustus Caesar's palace on Palatine Hill.

    Courtyard inside the palace.

    Marion with St. Peter's Basilica in the background.

    Ruins in the Roman Forum.

    More ruins (in the foreground).

    Over 2000 year old Corinthian columns and what's left of Julius Caesar's palace.

    Mom and Dad inside the Roman Forum.

    Notice the door to this Baroque church is 8m off the ground. This is because in the 1600's when this church was built, the area of the Roman Forum had completely filled in with 1000 years of sediment from the flooding Tevere River. Excavation in the last century has brought the land back to the level it was in 30BC re-revealing the treasures of the Forum.

    Unbelievably, this entire structure is just a monument not a building.

    The Vatican Museum.

    There is literally 8km of art in the Vatican Museum and besides the amazing sculptures, paintings, and textiles, every ceiling is frescoed.

    St. Peter's Square.

    Artwork at St. Peter's Basilica.

    St. Peter's tomb. When you see this it is hard to picture the rugged fisherman from Galilee.

    Trevi Fountain.

    Casting in our coins so we shall return!

    Interview with Marion:
    What was the best part of your trip to Italy? The gondola ride!

    What was the second best part? Leaning Tower

    What was the most beautiful thing you saw? Castles

    Did you like the villa in the country? Yes
    Why? Because we had a swing, ummm and I liked hunting every morning.
    What did you hunt for? Olives, rocks, and flowers that is all I did.

    Did someone special come from Canada? Grandpa and Grandma….. Peter and Grandma.
    Marion do you know Grandma’s name? No…oh um Kathy!

    What was the best part of having Grandpa and Grandma with you? Reading gold-bug (Richard Scary books)…eating gellato…

    Marion can you tell me all the fun things you did? I liked eating breakfast at the olive farm, swinging on the swing, going driving, castles, hunting, that is all I did! I liked the art like the statues because they are carved by hand.
    What was your favourite statue? My favourite carving was by Michaelangela! (<-that br="" how="" it="" s="" said="" she="">
    Did you learn any Italian words? Gellato, ciao (pronounced chow),

    What shape is the country of Italy? A BOOT!

    So Marion you liked your trip to Italy? Uhhuh,
    Are you happy we went? Yep!

    One word to sum up the trip? Leaning Tower!

    Interview with Roger:
    What was the best parts of the trip for you? Taking a gondola ride at dusk then going on a date with my beautiful wife in the grand plaza.

    What was the most beautiful thing you saw? You…. ahhhh…(followed by a smooch), and the city of Pienza perched on top of a hill in the Tuscan countryside

    If there is one lasting memory what will it be? Wandering the streets of Venice when we came upon a little cafĂ©…we all sat on the bench, drank cappuccino and just took it all in. I also loved exploring Palatine Hill in Rome where the Emperors lived…so many of the ruins are still intact.

    What was your favourite place? That is so tough…the first place I would go back to would be those hill top towns in the Tuscan countryside

    Your favourite meal? Easily the guinea pheasant with olives fried in olive oil that I had in Pienza

    What was the most impressive piece of art you saw? Definitely the David, I didn't realize how enormous it was.

    Was it nice to see your parents? I loved doing this vacation with my parents! It was so fun for the girls to have their grandparents and so fun for us just to be together.

    What is your favourite family memory? Just relaxing at the villa, having breakfast with all of us, watching the girls on the swing.

    Do you know that you were the hottest thing in Italy? Yes, but the David came close.

    If you were to do the trip again would you do anything different? Nope.

    Will you return to Italy? Oh ya.

    Are you bringing me with you? Oh ya!!!

    Can you sum up the trip in one word? Beautiful.

    Interview with Davina:

    What was your favourite part of the trip, Davina? Bampa!