Roaming

The City of Fountains: Rome

Worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see

In the middle of Italy sits a city like no other in the World; Rome. Also referred to as the City of Fountains, Rome has been calling tourists to its streets for millenniums. With so much to see and do in the city of Rome and the surrounding areas, it is likely that you will return time and time again to experience new things. I have now visited Rome twice and the list I have compiled would leave you exhausted and fulfilled after a weeks visit.

Top 11 Things-to-do in Rome

  1.  Colosseum: On everyone’s list of things to see is the Colosseum and rightfully so. The architecture that comprises one of the World’s most visited sites is absolutely incredible. If you are taking along small children (even if you’re not) it would behoove you to study up a little bit. There is so much information and the tour guides speak very quickly and move even faster. There are kid-friendly tours available through Get Your Guide and Viator. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of Fountains Rome 11 things to see
  2. Aquaducts: Running over, under and around the city of Rome are stunning examples of the human imagination, ingenuity, and spirit. If you are even remotely interested in the city’s history and the development of the city planning as we know it then you must take an aqueduct tour. These tours are available on foot, by bus, and by bicycle.
  3. A short day trip South of Rome lies one of the archaeology world’s greatest treasures; Herculaneum. A wonderfully preserved archaeology site that is significantly less publicized and less crowded than Pompeii. You could manage to see Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day if you plan accordingly in the right season, but if you have to choose Herculaneum is a much better experience all around.
  4. Roman Catacombs: Specifically the Capuchin Catacombs. If the crowd you travel with is interested in a more Macomb experience the catacombs are a must! Experience underground churches where a beloved community of Friars were turned into skeletal works of art. There is even a children’s tour of the catacombs done in daylight hours so to lessen the eerie factor. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  5. Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City: An entire day should be spent touring Saint Peter’s Basilica (better known as the Vatican) and the surrounding buildings and streets that comprise Vatican City (the smallest country in the world). Book these tour tickets online in advance as the lines to purchase tickets are miserably long. Even if you are of little or no faith Saint Peter’s Basilica is mind-blowing in beauty, sculpture, history, and culture. Definitely a must- see. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  6. While in Vatican City; those readers who are renaissance art lovers should experience the Sistine Chapel. I will forewarn you that the chapel and Michael Angelo’s Creation painting are small, but the tour itself is wonderful and full of information that helps set the ambiance and connect the pieces. This is a bit of a “stir crazy” situation for small children though so do not enjoy sugary gelato beforehand.
  7. In between heavy adult sightseeing days, I highly recommend taking your children to the Bioparco of Roma. The Zoo! A wonderful little zoo that sits in the middle of the Borghese Family Estate and Gardens. The zoo is full of endangered animals and even ones I had never heard of before. You can run the same grounds and trails that the Borghese family did so many years ago. The park is full of original fountains and aqueducts that you can refresh yourself or water bottles in. When you tire of the animals you can take a beautiful stroll or a tour of the Borghese Villa. rome 15
  8. The Trevi Fountain: One of the most heavily visited sites in the city. An absolute must do event in the dark as its beauty is magnified tenfold when lit up at night. You DO NOT need a tour guide for the Trevi fountain. It is a free open space. What I recommend you do is watch a documentary about the fountain on youtube prior to going. I learned so much more from a 40-minute video than from guidebooks. For those of you who are superstitious, you can help navigate your fate by throwing coins into the fountain. 1 coin=to someday return to Rome. 2 coins= to find Love and Marriage. 3 coins=a smooth divorce. Watch out for flying coins as visitors throw over 3,000 Euros into the fountain daily! worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  9. Gladiator School: Another fun afternoon for those children and young adults traveling with you! A fabulous experience where you learn the ways of the Colosseum Gladiators through dress- up and weapons training!
  10. Castel Sant’Angelo: Also known as Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum. This beautiful fortress and the surrounding bridges comprise one of my favorite spots in the city. Full of history, mystery, art. You cannot go wrong spending an afternoon along the water, learning about Emperor Hadrian’s plans for his resting place. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  11. The Pantheon: A wonderful FREE thing to do! The Pantheon does not require a lot of time spent touring and viewing, but it is an architectural wonder and worth adding to your list. You can enjoy it in the same evening as the Trevi Fountain as they are located about a half mile from one another.

The City of Fountains

As much as I hope you are able to see all of the things on this list; I know good and well that you will find yourself lost in wonder on cobblestone streets. Window shopping at every turn, or people watching for the umpteenth hour in a corner chair. There is no shame in enjoying the bustle of Roman life instead of heavy sightseeing. As a matter of fact, if you choose to not sightsee at all this trip all you have to do is throw a coin in the Trevi fountain and you are guaranteed a return to this beautiful mysterious city.

worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see

The Dreaded Tourist Experience: Foreign ER

We have all felt this dread. “Should I let them go ziplining? Cave Diving? Cliff Jumping?” “What happens if something goes wrong?” It would be a nightmare no matter where in the world an accident occurred, but especially so abroad right? You would be correct in this fear. It is scary. This fear allows us to not take risks, to not live fully, something happening to ourselves or our children is the scariest thing about parenting. I am here to tell you that it is not the unnecessary risks that will land you in the ER, it is the daily tasks gone array.

In the summer of 2018, while backpacking Europe with my three small children, we had the joy (sarcasm) of experiencing four different Emergency Rooms in THREE different countries! Trust me, I know how it appears, like the world’s most overlooked CPS case, but all three incidences were bizarre and took place within whatever living situation we were in at the time.

The Greek ER: When Things Other Than Language Are The Issue

In June, we were eaten alive by mosquitos in Athens, Greece. This was not new to us as we seem to be magnets for them no matter the continent or weather. One afternoon we were walking back from the park in sweltering heat and my oldest son started complaining about his hip hurting. He had had no recent falls or bruising that I was aware of so I didn’t think much of it. Later that evening he was still complaining about his hip and side hurting so I took a look. What I discovered sent me into a small panic attack; there in his right groin area, in the lymph node, were numerous bulging masses. . .

I immediately thought that he had a severe bowel hernia as it had been a few days since his last bowel movement and now suddenly it all made sense. I began doing extensive research for a children’s hospital that would take Tricare. There was one and that is how we came to find ourselves waiting in line in the Greek Pediatric Care Unit over an hour from our then apartment.

I made a decision that day that would set the stage for the coming injuries; go to a children’s hospital if you are able. Luckily that was my first instinct, but unluckily for me, children’s hospitals are not all that common in Greece. It took the kids and I the better part of the morning to get there between walking, then the bus, followed by the metro, then another bus, followed by more walking. We waited for about 2.5 hours to be seen that morning, and then we were seen by two pediatric physicians, followed by a specialist.

Language Wasn’t the Issue

Though language was a struggle, someone that spoke better English than the last was brought in to help translate. I know very basic Greek, but it’s conversational Greek not medical. When the young physician examined our then 5 year old’s groin area, the concern was not the bulging lymph node, but the fact that I was presumed to be withholding medical history because my child was circumcised and that meant that something horrible had happened to this region of his body before to warrant such a procedure! Now our oldest son is our only circumcised child (long story, sore subject) so because I see both styles regularly I didn’t even consider that it must appear very strange to a country that practices intact only.

The conversation went something like this:

Greek Physician “What happened to warrant this surgery?? Has he had an infection before?”

me “No, he is just circumcised per my husband’s decision.”

Greek Physician “(purely stunned) I have never heard of such a thing.”

Foreign ER Visits 2

Hours later, they discovered that there was an infection in his groin due to an infected mosquito bite on his leg. Externally, the mosquito bite looked like any other partially healed bite, but when they lanced it… .well, let’s just say that I had to continue to lance it every 48 hours for three weeks while he took around the clock steroid antibiotics.

Our overall Greek hospital experience was perfectly fine. It was clean. The physicians seemed knowledgeable about everything except cosmetic circumcision. The pharmaceuticals are so cheap it is mind-blowing. I paid 8 Euros total for three specialist examinations, x-rays, and two 7-day rounds of antibiotics.

When The ER is Remote or Far Away

TWO HOURS after arriving via train to a tiny village in Tuscany our third son, then only 18 months old, fell a whopping 18 inches off of a stone wall and landed on his wrist. Thus, fracturing it. In rural Italy, very little English is spoken. In Italy as a whole, very little English is spoken. English only became the national second language in the last generation. All of the generations prior had a second language of French. When our little guy fell there was ONE person working at the castle we were staying in that spoke English and Italian fluently. He was tasked with the job of driving me to the nearest hospital. This man was God sent, would later become a dear friend and I would discover that he speaks 8 languages in total.

Elvys drove the baby and I the thirty minutes to the nearest hospital. They would not take us because they did not have an ER or any kind of Orthopedic specialist. We were sent another hour down the road to the outskirts of Florence to a small hospital there. No one spoke English except my new friend Elvys. He was not allowed past registration so I was on my own with a screaming child. Luckily, hand gestures go a long way if you are calm and coherent enough to understand them. One nurse, in particular, worked with me only using pointing and signs. She and I managed to get us through x-ray, to casting, back to x-ray and through payment without anyone crying.

Foreign ER

 

This hospital did not bill Tricare, it was my only option and I had to pay out of pocket within three weeks of the casting. My whole bill was $75… Nothing compared to American health care. Are you noticing a pattern yet? My bill so far for ER visits in two different countries is now totaled at $83.

The Italian Hospital was significantly more dingy, darker, etc, but ultimately got the job done just fine.

The Third Foreign ER Visit

The night we arrived in Rome, my oldest son pushed the middle son (then 4) off of the hotel room bed, shattering the top of his foot. Because this happened at 10 pm at night, now knowing that I would have to wait at least 3 hours, I opted to wait until morning. The next morning we spent almost 5 hours waiting in a Roman Children’s Hospital ER. They did an initial exam, then x-rays, followed by an open-toed cast and another set of x-rays as-well-as the canceling of 2 tours, the purchasing of a wheelchair and having to opt for the train to Germany because he was not allowed to fly. The cast they put on him would be temporary until we arrived in Germany for the removal of that cast and the creation of another one that he would be in for an additional month.

Foreign ER Visit 4

The Roman ER was very nice and new. I left there paying nothing. As a matter of fact, I asked the lady at the desk if I owed anything and she said “money? Why would you owe anything? No! Please go enjoy the day!” This was not the hospital I was told to go to by Tricare, this is the one I went to based on local recommendation. 

The Straight Lines of the German ER

When we arrived in Germany I found the Tricare approved children’s hospital. A well run, efficient addition to the area like most other things German in design. We went through the Emergency Room to have his cast removed because they would not allow us to make an appointment since they did not put on the original cast. So we waited…again. The cast was taken off, more x-rays were done, then another (non-weight bearing) cast was put on for another month. We left without a price tag. Four weeks later we went back to the same hospital for the cast removal and another set of x-rays. We saw the Tricare bill just last week for $47, which Tricare covered. Our cost for the broken foot was the $150 I had to pay for a used wheelchair through a third party pharmacy in Rome.

Foreign ER visit 6

Most of Germany speaks English fluently. The issues I found with the German medical system were small things that became frustrating later. For example, this particular hospital only does cast removals by appointment on Tuesdays. They only accept walk0in removals on Monday afternoons. Things of this nature were frustrating but understandable. The reason why the German infrastructure runs so smoothly is that everything has its time.

Putting Foreign ER Fears Aside

The scariest thing in the world is something happening to our children. The second scariest is the cost that might come with it. Rest assured that with Tricare insurance you will be able to be seen at no cost. If you are somewhere with an out of network ER and they do not accept Tricare, do not fret. The foreign medical system, especially in Europe, is incredibly affordable. You are not charged for seeing specialists and physicians you are charged for material (plaster, tape, x-rays) even these items are significantly cheaper than the American system. Live and let live out in the world with little fear of what could happen and more trust in the capabilities of the people’s whose country you visit.

All of the NEW news with the Bradburys

 

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Mid-November finds our family of 5 together again. Greg has been approved for 30 days of leave that will carry us through Thanksgiving and the road trip back to North Carolina. After months of searching, praying, and calling we have finally found a livable house in New Bern, NC. Many of you may not know, but hurricane Florence did a number on North Carolina, in particular, the area of New Bern where the storm surge came through. With so many families displaced and swooping up the rentals before they even came on the market, we were struggling to find anything, much-less something large enough to house our family. The home we finally put a deposit down on is the smallest place we have lived in as a family of 5, but considering that we just received news that we are headed to JAPAN this summer we will have to downsize anyway. 

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When we return to North Carolina in early December Greg will be stationed at a new duty station, beginning training on a new aircraft. There are huge changes happening for our family this year. WE are transitioning from one military community to another, a very small specialized community. Then we will assimilate into another later in 2019 across the world. We have established a weekly family meeting to keep everyone up to date on the happenings of the week to come. To give the kids an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns with us. We hope that by widening the communication lanes for everyone we will be able to make the changes in the year ahead a little smoother. BUT the biggest change of all is having Daddy home. After 10.5 months of travel, deployment, more travel, hurricane separation, house hunting separation, and homelessness we are all together again for the foreseeable future. This is obviously a wonderful thing, but, maybe surprising to my civilian readers, is the hardest transition of all. 

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Every year, I think “this has been the craziest year yet” and just like all the years past 2019 will say “hold my drink.” Luckily for Greg and I, we have been successful in our mission to raise resilient, determined, strong-willed, wonder seeking children who seek adventure almost as much as their parents. We are wishing you all a very warm Thanksgiving week surrounded by laughter and encouragement to do the things that set your soul afire. 

-Lydia