Tuesday, June 30, 2015


We got everyone up around 6:00 this morning, in an effort to beat the crowds (which we have heard again and again are absolutely horrible), for our sightseeing day in Rome. First we caught a bus, which took us to the metro station. (Actually, we intentionally missed the first bus, which was packed to the gills and didn't have room for one of us, much less six of us!) We then took two different trains and finally ended up near Vatican City (the smallest country in the world), which we were able to walk to very easily. True to our expectations, the crowd was relatively small at that early hour, so we were able to get right into St. Peter's Basilica, which was truly beautiful. After that, another subway train took us to The Colosseum, which was a very impressive structure to see. With a seating capacity of 75,000, it would rival almost any modern college football stadium, but, additionally, it also had the entire underground area where the wild animals were housed, largely unfed, until they were to face off against the gladiators, who we heard were mostly slaves and prisoners, but were occasionally volunteers. We all thought it was pretty interesting that the basic stadium design, which functions well at allowing many guests to enter or exit in an expedient manner, hasn't changed much in all these years. From there, we made the short walk over to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. By 11:00 am, we had taken about 10,000 steps (according to my FitBit tracker)! We had a picnic lunch overlooking the former Circus Maximus (a large chariot racing stadium), at the base of Palatine Hill. We ended our outing with a walk over to the Boca della Verita, made famous in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. We all made it out with our hands intact, so I guess that means we are a very honest bunch! A few more train and bus rides brought us back to our campground by 1:30, just as everyone was ready for a little nap. I must say, we were pleasantly surprised by Rome and enjoyed our time there very much!

St. Peter's Basilica

The opulent interior of the basilica, which was partially designed by Michelangelo

The Colosseum

The impressive interior of The Colosseum,
including a view of the lower level, where the animals were kept

Taking a break at The Colosseum

The entrance to the Roman Forum

The entrance to Palatine Hill
(Clay was very impressed with all the arches!)

Palatial ruins at Palatine Hill, which is, in fact, where the word "palace" comes from

Looking across Circus Maximus toward Palatine Hill

We managed to capture a pretty decent family selfie,
with Palatine Hill in the background.

We all took a turn at Boca della Verita.
No liars here!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Camping Village Fabulous

After eating a great deal of pizza and gelato in Naples, we exceeded the acceptable weight limit and were kicked out :). So, we headed on over to our fabulous campground, appropriately named Camping Village Fabulous, just outside of Rome. This is similar to the place we stayed in The Netherlands, with a pool and all sorts of kids activities. It is full of families from everywhere, and the boys have already made a friend from Ireland. This is a really fun place, and we are glad we get to spend the week here!

The campground sits in the midst of a beautiful 70 acre pine forest

So much fun on the water slide!

practicing his "big arms"

The boys worked out a bunch of pent up energy in the pool this afternoon

Our Camping Village Fabulous house

Clay wanted to take selfies while we waited on dinner to be ready

Friday, June 26, 2015


The other day, we headed over to the Bay of Naples to take in the sights. We enjoyed walking along the "boardwalk," climbing on the gigantic rocks that make up the "beach," seeing the Castel Nuovo and Mt. Vesuvius across the bay, looking at all the boats and yachts of the Rich and Famous, watching a crane-truck lift a boat into the marina, and stopping for drinks at a little coastal cafe. Afterwards, we spent some time searching for a Walmart-like store, where we could purchase a few necessities, which was an adventure in and of itself. 

A day by the bay 

Mt. Vesuvius, across the bay 

To me, Castel Nuovo looks like a gigantic sand castle.

It was thrilling to watch this boat being lifted into the marina!


These two snagged a sweet seat at the cafe. 

One of our treasures from the store: a typical Naples lemon

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and we had the opportunity to visit Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. The volcano hasn't erupted since 1944, but it is still considered "active," and we were all thrilled to see it shooting out some steam. The hike to the crater offered some amazing views of the Amalfi Coast, which were worth the hike in and of themselves. It was definitely a tourist destination, but if you are ever in Naples, I highly recommend it, because it is truly awesome! We stopped for pizza (of course!) on the way down the mountain, and then drove over to Pompeii for the afternoon. I honestly had no idea so much of the relatively large city (an estimated 11,000 people) had been preserved when Mt. Vesuvius issued its death warrant in 79 AD, but it was fascinating to see all the ruins in such great shape and picture what life might have been like for ancient Romans who lived there. This was one of our favorite touristy days!

The Gulf of Naples on the lovely Amalfi Coast

Climbing Mt. Vesuvius

See the steam?

posing at the crater

The very impressive crater

I cannot get enough of this view!


Most of the statues have been relocated to the museum,
but we were able to find these two for our statue lover to pose with.

taking a break in Pompeii

Not surprisingly, one of my favorite things at Pompeii was this cafeteria.
This was a standing counter, with huge clay pots built in,
where people would come to have a bite to eat and to socialize.

We searched long and hard for the bodies we had heard were preserved under the ash, just as they were.
Many had been relocated to the museum, and some were out for restoration, but we finally
found this guy in the last building we entered. Stretched out, it would have been about as tall as Weston.

Mt. Vesuvius still makes its presence known to the old city of Pompeii.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pizza Street

When we first began planning our trip to Naples, birthplace of pizza, we knew that culinary masterpiece would figure prominently in our stay here. With a little research, we were able to discover that there is a street particularly known for its walk-up pizzerias. This seemed like the perfect way to experience the best of Naples, so armed with the street name and our trusty MapsMe app, we left our little neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, at the base of Mt. Vesuvius, and headed into the heart of the city. I don't know what to tell you about driving in Naples, except that it is the stuff nightmares and outlandish movies are made of. But, we survived to tell the tale and take in all that "Pizza Street" had to offer. It was so much more than just pizza, I assure you, though the pizza was certainly the highlight, especially for the kids. They thought it was such a blast to walk down the street, stopping at every little place for pizza. Each time we would just order one personal-sized margarita pizza (for about a dollar apiece) to share. These were all folded up and wrapped in paper, for maximum portability. Once, we even stopped to try the sfogliatella ricci, which is a delicious pastry filled with a sweet, slightly lemony ricotta cheese mixture. When we had been up and down "Pizza Street" and were sure we hadn't missed any of the little joints, we decided we would like to try one of the sit-down pizzerias, just to compare. Originally, we thought we would try to get into one of the oldest, most famous pizza places in town, but half the city seemed to have had the same thought, so we went across the street instead, because standing around in the crowd, which was spilling into the street, while trying to keep my younger kids happy and safe, honestly seemed like too much of an unnecessary strain on my blood pressure. At D'Angeli, we were seated right away and the two pizzas we ordered were amazing, so we certainly weren't disappointed. On the way back to our house, we were treated to amazing views of Mt. Vesuvius, which was the perfect icing on the cake for this fun day.