Our second full day in Rome started with the event everyone was looking forward to – a pizza making class! We walked our way from our centrally-located apartment, passing by the Pantheon and the famous Piazza Navone, plus a few other random bits of Roman history as we strolled through the town.
The boys had an absolute blast as our instructor walked us through how to make the pizza dough, then let us roll out the dough and pick our own toppings.
The class took place in a pizza restaurant, so the real pizza maker put our pizzas in a huge pizza oven for a few minutes to cook them, then we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Everyone agreed those were the best pizzas we had ever eaten! N has decided he wants to be a pizza chef when he grows up.
After our pizza-making class, we headed back towards our Airbnb, stopping by the Pantheon on our way. The Pantheon is a pretty quick visit, but it was one of my favorite sites in Rome. The Pantheon dates back to around 125 AD and it is one of the best preserved Ancient Roman buildings.
Walking into the Pantheon gave so much more dimension to the typical Roman ruins. The ruins we are used to seeing are impressive for their structural integrity and size, but it is hard to really imagine how they looked when originally built with colored marble, statues and other decoration. The inside of the Pantheon let me imagine what all of these Ancient Roman buildings really looked like. Why is it so well preserved? Because it was given to the Catholic church over a thousand years ago, and has been used continuously since then. Most other Ancient Roman buildings have been pillaged over the years. Anything of value that could be removed has been removed. Not the Pantheon. Its interior was amazing for the insight it gives us into how Ancient Roman buildings must have looked.
The next day, we headed to the Colosseum. Learning from our earlier mistake at St. Peter’s Basilica, we got up first thing in the morning (no problem for our kids!) and headed straight there to be in line as soon as it opened at 8:30am. It was a solid approach and we only had a short wait before getting in.
Knowing the kids don’t have the patience, we opted out of the audioguide, so we may have zipped through a little faster than average. However, we did have our awesome Mission: Rome books. I mentioned this in another post, but these are scavenger-activity books, and they exist for a few cities around the world. We previously did one for Paris. Our Mission: Rome books covered all the main sites of Rome and gave the boys activities to do at each site. Usually there would be something to find, or count or do, with an explanation of why it is important and gives them a point value. For us, we give them a certain amount of money per point (in our case it was €1 per 10 points), and it was totally worth it for them to be engaged and excited about what they were looking at. At the Colosseum, we did the tasks from the Mission: Rome book and that gave us a good overview of it while we walked around.
After the Colosseum, we walked to the Roman Forum, located right next to the Colosseum. I think I enjoyed the slightly less popular sites better, like the Forum and the Pantheon, maybe because expectations (and crowds) were a bit lower. These, in my opinion, were much more pleasant to visit than the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum.
The Forum was the center of Roman life back in the day. This was the central square where the Romans ran their errands. Now, it is a spectacular site of ruins.
Once again, our Mission: Rome books were amazing. In a place that we could have just easily walked through, without understanding the significance of a crumbling building, we had tons of “points” to earn, with explanations of the significance of what we were looking for.
Rome is packed with amazing sights around every corner. We had a great time exploring (and eating) our way through the city! However, after our three days in Rome, it was time to take the train south to Pompeii. More on that coming up!