Appia3When my daughter, son-in-law, and grand-twins moved from Washington, DC, to Rome because Richard was promoted, my husband and I were dismayed. Fortunately, the United Nations, for whom Richard works, gives a travel allowance that lets them visit us in California once a year. But until this summer, we’ve never visited them in Rome.

Unlike most young Romans who live in the city, Sarah and Richard don’t rent an apartment in a highrise building, instead renting a house close to the center of town. In fact, they live on the Appia Antinca (the Appian Way) across from the catacombs and down the street from the Domine Quo Vadis church.

The Appia Antica is walled along their part of the road with car-wide entrances off the Appia for residents. The entrance to my daughter’s house goes uphill a few feet and ends at three gates, the one to the left leading to an apartment complex, to the right a sanitarium, and straight ahead to Sarah’s and her landlady’s houses.

The story goes that Sarah’s house was originally the stables for the villa where her landlady and her family live. No one knows if this is true or not since the building is centuries old and accurate information wasn’t passed down.

Sarah and Richard’s house is U-shaped with exposed beams and floor to ceiling windows in the recessed living room. The living room, dining room, and kitchen are in one of the sides of the U while the four bedrooms and two bathrooms are in the other side. The center of the U is what we in America would call an inclosed patio or lanai which opens to the bush-enclosed backyard.

As you can imagine, it was wonderful visiting them in Rome and getting to see the twins’ school as they passed from first to second grade. Their school is American-British, appropriately called AmBrit where not only American and British workers in Rome send their children, but also wealthy Italians do as well. The classes are taught in English, and the students all take another language. The twins fittingly take Italian which is difficult because it’s geared to students who speak the language at home.

Besides playing with our grandchildren, we also went sightseeing even though both my husband and I had visited Rome in 1970, long before we met each other. While the sites hadn’t changed since then, tourist accommodations at a lot of places had. For example, we got early tour tickets for the Sistine Chapel, a site which neither of us had seen since it had been cleaned, so there were very few people there. If you’ve not seen it and are in Rome, I highly recommend it. The colors are breathtaking now.

We also visited the ruins of a small Roman bath that was off the beaten path which was also wonderful. Again, because of the dearth of tourists, we could take our time and see the wonderful mosaics and understand the complex workings of the bath system without any shoving and pushing. This was unlike when we visited the Trevi Fountain which was cheek to jowl with tourists.

The two weeks with them passed much too quickly. Even now, in the throes of jet lag, I miss being there with them.

What are you doing this summer? Do you have family plans? Exotic vacations? Or leisurely stay-cations coming up?

Ciao!

– Pat AAR