Family Life,  Life in Italy,  Traveling with Children

A ‘Weekend’ Away

Heading out of town today for an adventure of underwhelming proportions. We have a fun game we like to play called ‘walk to the train station and get on the next train going somewhere interesting.’ It sounds very glamorous until you figure the logistics of rail travel with children, but nevertheless, it has busted us out of many a funk these past couple months. As an added bonus, today Dave has an entire day off work, which has happened once since February 11th, and we squandered it at IKEA, so this is momentous. Momentous, I tell you.

Now picture this sand covered in speedos. And cigarette butts.

Here’s the plan: load the double stroller up with children, supplies, and layers of clothing. Curse the heaviness of the load and start removing ‘unnecessary’ items, one by one, until only the children, 1 umbrella, the rain cover, and a handful of dirty raisins remain. Throw one questionably clean size 4 diaper back into the basket, congratulating self on having smartly purchased size 4s for both kids instead of the more-appropriately fitted 3s and 5s. (Yes mommy, you are a badass.)

Push stroller to the front door only to realize it’s raining. Hard. Curse the Mediterranean Sea, the gulf stream,, and any other entity which may be held responsible for the incessant moisture which is  primavera in Roma. Fling stroller back into the mailroom corner and strap the slightly smaller baby into the Ergo, wrap the toddler in an extra layer of water-resistance, and run for the bus.

Wait, you’ve seen this one? Sorry, it’s one of 4 pictures our our entire family. And JP isn’t even visible.

 End scene.

Or rather, begin a new, even more entertaining to passersby, scene. Arrive at the train station to find Joey’s heart bursting with joy. Most times we take the trains places, Joey is very, very pleased. He approves of the seating arrangements, the lack of seat belts, the bearded and chain-smoking conductor who comes to check his bigletti (let’s be honest, once out of every 4 rides or so. So tempting to work this system….), and the adoring crowds of strangers for whom he can perform.

His favorite acts involve blowing kisses and speaking in simple Italian in his raspy toddler voice while elderly Italian women faint at his feet. He also enjoys accepting piggyback rides from strange men, which is not quite as creepy as it looks in print. But almost. Don’t worry, we keep him within reasonable eyesight.

Not even from my camera, I’m pretty sure. Lazy, meet your new competition.

Our recent jaunts to the countryside include a memorable overnight in Assisi, a sun-drenched but frigid trip to the gorgeous beach town of San Marinella, and a spur of the moment Monday field trip to Bracciano, home to an impressively huge and beautiful lake and the preserved mideval castle where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married. Obviously if I had known that before we visited, I would have planned an entire pilgrimage around trying to recreate their creepy publicity shots from various towers and windows. But alas, we had no foreknowledge of its storied history.

Not ‘the’ castle, but a castle we hand out at sometimes. Close enough.

Today we’re heading off to Castelgandolfo, temporary home to Bishop Emeritus of Rome, Benedict XVI, and a sweet lakeside amusement park for small people. Fratelli, a town 5 miles down the road, is one of Rome’s legendary providers of excellent vino bianco, so if I happen to wander off from all the fun….well, I can’t get too far.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of normality on this very happy Thursday, and crossing our fingers there’s no rail strike today.

Ciao for now.


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