Finally got to an Internet cafe here in Sorrento and got some time to catch up.
The train from Milan to Rome was excellent - a fast Eurostar. We were worried about buying the tickets on the day we were travelling but it turned out that wasn't a problem. The ride was smooth with plenty of leg room. Much better than flying.
From the train station in Rome, it was't far to our apartment near the Spanish Steps. I was very pleasantly surprised when we got there. I usually brace myself for disappointment when we arrive at any apartment. Picture and descriptions don't often match reality. However, in this case, it was much better. It was large and nicely decorated. A cafe was right next door where I enjoyed my morning coffee over the week. The only drawback was that it was a very noisy location. Rome is an incredibly noisy city. I mean, ITS REALLY NOISY!!. Started to drive me nuts.
We covered all the main sites of the historic area of Rome. We didn't bother with the Vatican museum - 7 kilometers of displays is a bit overwhelming and I didn't think the Sistine Chapel was worth a long wait in a queue with the kids. We did climb to the top of St Peters and enjoy the spectacular view of Rome from up there. We visited several churches, Piazza's, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Colleseum, the Forum, Circus Maximus, Boca Verita, etc. The museum on the Capitoline hill was excellent. We also visited the National Museum.
We took the Archeobus out to see the Appian Way and visit the catacombes. Unfortunately, we had picked the wrong day as one of the catacombes was closed but the catacombs of St Sebastian were open so we visited those. It was bit silly driving down the tiny Appian Way in a huge tourist bus. It would have been much nicer to rent bikes but didn't manage to organise it.
The challenge of course is to make all these things interesting and relevant to the kids. We bought some more books and tried our best to explain some of the history. We spent quite a bit of time studying church architecture. The big lesson we learned was that we need to prepare the kids a lot more about what they're going to see before we get there rather than take them somewhere and then try to answer the question "what was that". To make up for that, we did try to take things quite slow. In the colleseum, we gave the kids time to just sit and draw what they were seeing.
The last day was a bit of disaster.
It started off well. We we went to Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini where they've used the bones of 4,000 monks to decorate the crypt. Quite something and well worth seeing.
Next we went took the metro out to the EUR to see the Civil Museum which has a large model of ancient Rome. We got there and discovered they had gone on strike so they wouldn't let us in. Overall, we've learned its very very important to check opening times here in Italy.
In the interest of escaping the constant traffic and noise we next decided to go find some green space and the most obvious green space in Rome is Villa Borghese. While there we rented some bikes. Unfortunately, R* had an accident and badly scratch her face. Lots of blood and she was in a bit of shock. After deciding her nose wasn't broken, Jenny got her cleaned up at the zoo while I hunted down a taxi. We got home and set about nursing her better. She has been healing just fine.