Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At home in Rome

Or at least that's the goal.  We spent last week packing up, running around doing last minute errands and library requests, and saying good byes.  With the help of my very generous and kind neighbors--one drove me to the various (hidden) post offices and the others watched the kids--I mailed 80 kg of stuff so that we could just take the train with a few small suitcases, the kids, and the stroller.  I had been dreading renting a car and driving it in Rome.  Italian rental cars and all stick-shift, and I'm the manual driver in the family.  Unfortunately, Matt is the city driver in the family.  So...bad news for everyone.  He would have had to tend the kids while I maneuvered the tiny one way streets, going up on curbs, and cutting everyone off like my life depends on it, in an unnervingly small car.  I opted for the risk of using the Italian post.  In the past, Italian post has not turned out so well for us.  It was cheap, however, and I'd heard that inter-country mail works much better than international.

With misty eyes, we boarded the train for Rome, psyching ourselves up for the six-hour trip ahead of us.  We had decided on the slow, regional train.  Besides saving money, there was more luggage space, six-person cars with a door (better for the kids to be contained but allowed to stand), and a better chance of there being empty seats.  It turned out well.  After Florence, there were two empty seats, one for each kid.  They behaved themselves, and we had a fairly seamless journey.  Perhaps the only error of the trip was deciding to take the metro instead of a taxi from the train station to our apt.  We thought it should be no problem since it was only 3 stops on the metro and then 2 blocks.  And indeed, it should have been no problem, but Termini station has no direct elevator to the metro.  Neither does our stop.  The stairs were horrendous.  The bags were heavy.  Fortunately, some people were helpful.  We made it, but we were very tired.

We met our landlady with no problem and were escorted into our new place, just a few blocks from the famous Porta Popolo.  Despite having a strange floor plan: elevated loft with bookshelves for no reason, door and window that separate the living room and the rest of the house, and a galley kitchen with a sliding door, the apartment seemed clean and comfortable.  We had already decided the quality of our meals would go down a notch.  In Rome, we would sightsee and relish the once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than stay home and spend precious time making elaborate meals in a kitchen that made our previous apartment's kitchen seem spacious.  To be fair, although it's small, we now have the advantage of a four-burner gas stove and a larger fridge with freezer.  Don't even get me started on the glories of a gas stove!  Oh my goodness...  It is hot immediately (cutting down on cooking time immensely!).  It stops immediately (making it unnecessary to move pots when they need to stop cooking).  Fire, ah fire, how I love thee.  The freezer also makes it so we don't have to shop every day.  I can keep some things in stock there.  But, as I mentioned before, we'll be doing simple meals; no roasted duck or chocolate rum cake in Rome.  Instead we'll have creative picnics in amazing piazzas.

So we're settling in.  I'm finding the grocery stores that'll work for us.  The kids are getting used to the new place and enjoying the new sites.  Dominic was fascinated by the Roman Forum.  He just stared and stared at it, as I pointed things out and explained that a really, really long time ago these were the Romans houses, church, market, etc.  As if to add to my list, he pointed at a large stone and sagely added "And rocks!"  I think they'll enjoy our time here, although it will be very, very different than our calm routine in Padua.

And, as a good omen, all the boxes came on Monday without a hitch!

Pictures and more adventures to come later.