Enjoying the moment in Turin

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I really really really try not to do this.  I promise I do.

But I can’t help thinking that certain things, particularly travel-related things, will be easier in just a few years.

And I know.  I’m working on enjoying the moments.  I swear.  But you just have these little niggling thoughts, ya know?

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Happy chocolate day!

I’m not big into Valentine’s as an adult.  Remember how fun it was in elementary school?  First, I got to pore over the wall of Valentine’s at the store.  (No handmade craftiness for us.)  Would I get Strawberry Shortcake or the Smurfs?  What would my choice say about me??

Then, I would divide up the eight cheesy cards in the pack and completely over-analyze which message should go to each person.  Would the “you’re the sweetest” or the “be my valentine home run” card better convey my affection to my crush?  And then what did his card to me mean?  Please tell me I’m not the only person that did this.  Looking back, I’m sure guys just ripped through the bag and did some nuanced calculation like “chocolate? No?  Next card.”  Sometimes it is hard to be a girl.

Now I fall into the “Valentine’s Day is a forced display of affection that should be shown all year round and not because Hallmark tells you to” camp.  But I do like chocolate.  I’ve told James I thought it would be super romantical if he would get me an enormous box of chocolate–even better if marked down the day after–that is so big that I could take a bite and then throw away any pieces I didn’t like.  “Why wouldn’t you just look at the chocolate guide?” says you.  Me:  What sort of monster are you?  I bet you read the last page of novels first.  Did you listen to nothing Forrest said?  You don’t get to know what you’re going to get!!!  (James has delivered on the giant chocolate box on multiple occasions.)

Anywho, not necessarily for Valentine’s but happy coincidence, I found myself on a voyage to chocolate.  A friend mentioned a “chocolate factory” down the tram line from us.  I thought this would be an excellent outing with my mom.

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The chocolate factory in question is Said dal 1923.  Go on and click over there for some serious chocolate porn.  Said is not too far from Termini.  We hopped on the #3 tram and took off.  (And by hopped, I mean lugged two children and manhandled a stroller onto the tram.)  We probably got off a stop too soon, but we oriented ourselves and made it OK.

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We had been warned that Said is down an alley.  There is a sign on the street, but I doubt I would have found this if I hadn’t been looking for it.  Willy Wonka, I am not.

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We rolled in.  (Literally, because of the stroller.  Get it?)  Chocolate abounded.  Cases of chocolate.  Chocolate bars.  Chocolate spoons.  Chocolate covered coffee beans.  I had to tell Henry not to touch the glass about 75 times.  That kid is more into chocolate these days than Cathy from the comic strip.

Up front, Said has the chocolate cases and some cafe seating.  The restaurant doesn’t open until 4:00 pm and you need reservations, but they were nice enough to let us poke around in back.  It has a reclaimed wood Pottery Barn kind of feel.  Very open and airy, but also cozy.  It would be a great spot for a super romantic styles date.  Apparently, for the food, they put that chocolate on everything.

Mac napped, until he woke up and still didn't get to enjoy any chocolate

Mac napped, until he woke up and still didn’t get to enjoy any chocolate

Our mission was the hot chocolate.  (The cafe also featured coffee with chocolate in various forms.)

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Deciding to hedge against toddler rage, we ordered three cups.  Hot chocolate with chili, with cinnamon, and just milk chocolate.  All with homemade whipped cream, natch.

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Decadent does not even begin to describe this stuff.  It is sort of like trying to drink pudding.  Or chocolate mousse.  Henry ate it with a spoon.  Adding the whipped cream made it a little more beverage like.  It was truly ridiculous.  My mom even uttered the unthinkable phrase, “I don’t think I can do any more chocolate” at one point.  It was that much chocolate.

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All in all, it was an excellent outing.  Trams showed up right as we rolled up.  We did not suffer any meltdowns whatsoever even after my mom DARED to utter “well, things are going good so far” midway through the outing.  Henry may have touched a cigarette butt, but this is why we have soap.  I want more outings like this.  Rasslin’ two kids onto public transit by myself can be crazy tough.  But I’m vowing to do more.  Particularly if there is a sweet reward at the end.  And you better believe, I’ll be back here for a date night soon.  Just not for Valentine’s Day.

Said dal 1923
Via Tiburtina 135, 00185
Tuesday – Thursday 10:00 – 00:30
Friday – Sunday 10:00 – 01:30
(+39) 06/4469204

Big V-Day plans?  Are you pro or con?  At least, pro chocolate though, right?

That time we *almost* went to mass at St. Peter’s and *almost* saw the Pope

We did it!  We publicly transited!  I actually have two tram trips under my belt now, but this is a post about our first.  (No bus or metro yet.)  After we purchased our tickets, I went with a “go big or go home” approach and suggested to James that we go to church.  At St. Peter’s.  After consulting the tram schedule, this was not as crazy as it originally sounded.  We could pick up a tram  a few blocks from our house that would take us right there.  After much less cajoling than expected, James was convinced.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Hey, lady with the two small kids – you know St. Peter’s is pretty crowded, right?  ESPECIALLY on a Sunday.  And that is fair.  Being a Sunday morning did actually help us on the public transit front though.  Fewer cars on the road meant our travel time was faster.  It definitely cut against us because I forgot it was the last Sunday of the month, which means museums are free and therefore crowded.  We decided to go for it, taking the attitude that it’s not that far away.  If we want to see more, we’ll go back.

T – 60 minutes to mass

After consulting mass times, we decided to aim for the 10:30 am.  The tram rolled up after waiting just a few minutes.  The tram wasn’t packed, but people were leaping out of their seats to make room for the kiddos.  (This happened again the next day.)  This was nice and comforting for when I venture out with the kids on my own.  In DC I could usually get a seat, but not always, and people weren’t falling over themselves to make room.

Henry loved everything.  He loved looking out the window.  He loved holding onto the bar.  It was a hit.  (Mac slept through most of the ride.)

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Once we got there, we remembered about the free-museums-last-Sunday, but we weren’t trying to go into the museum–just St. Peter’s.  So we set off for the Square.  How bad could it be?

T – 30 minutes to mass

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It was pretty packed.  The line snaked all the way around the square.  I decided to wait in it for a bit.  It was a gorgeous day.

While Mac and I waited in line, Henry treated St. Peter’s Square like his own personal playground.  I love that.  Even though he won’t remember this, I’m looking forward to telling him, “Hey kid, we used to live in Rome, and you ran around the Vatican like it was your own personal playground.”

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James got to chase Henry around.  He said Henry got a lot of “aww” looks and some “who does this child belong to” looks.  At one point I saw a woman go up to Henry, but I figured James is right there, everything must be fine.  Apparently, she came up and said Henry was so beautiful she wanted to kiss him.  And then actually kissed him.

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T + 10 minutes to mass

The line took about 35 minutes.  We went through metal detectors.  We made it!

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Inside, it was very packed.  We were about ten minutes late to mass, but that’s practically on time around here.  A few minutes after we arrived, however, they started announcing communion instructions.  “Either that is the fasted mass ever or we messed up the times,” I told James.  It seems we messed up the times.  We were roped off from the legit worshipers who were more in the know on mass schedules, but we decided to look around where we could.

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T + 30 minutes to mass

So we left sans mass.  We found a bathroom, but no changing tables.  (#stpeterssquare #placesmysonsjunkhasbeen)

T + 55 minutes to mass

At this point, we could probably leave and get home in time for lunch and actual naps without any serious meltdowns.  But James realized the Pope would be addressing the crowd at noon.  That meant if we could make it another half hour, we could be a part of that crowd.  They were no longer letting people into the church, and we realized that the exit point was a pretty great spot to see, should we want to wait.  The weather was on our side.  Should we go for it?

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I looked at the gathering crowd.  Hundreds.  Thousands.  I’m bad at estimating, but it was a lot of people.  After dithering for a few more minutes, I decided that waiting half an hour could be tolerable, but exiting when everyone else was would not be.  So we bailed.

Instead of calling the trip a failure, I’m calling it a win.  We successfully navigated public transportation.  Even if we didn’t mass, we got to see inside St. Peter’s.  Even if we didn’t see the Pope, we know a good strategy for viewing next time.  And that’s the beauty of living here.  We can come back whenever we want.

I’ve talked to Henry some about that time he went to the biggest church in the whole world.  “You know, St. Peter’s.”  Henry is all, “Mr. MacGregor’s garden.”  What, kid?  Oh, right, Peter Rabbit.  Different Peter, but at least something is rubbing off.