Feeling a little cocky from our last foray onto the autostrata, we decided to head out of town for the day. The boys needed a little running room that didn’t include cement. Evidently, so did Hadrian, as he expanded the Empire out from its Mediterranean core all the way into England in the 2nd century B.C.E. Now, I look forward to a little saltbox on the Cape when I retire, perhaps even a bungalow on the ocean Down East in Maine where the boys can bring their kids sailing. Villa Adriana was no little shack on the shore.
Sure camping Barbarians had torn up the place in the 4th and 5th centuries, but what remains is still astounding. Hadrian designed acre after acre of green fields, cypress and olive trees and glistening pools on his palatial estate. The kids loved running past statues reflecting in the pool. You could even picture little Roman munchkins doing the same during one of his fabulous parties. Sydney was particularly excited by walking through the ruins of baths the size of our local Y pool. Liji was just happy chasing ducks as they swam away “making noises.”
Of course we got really ambitious and decided to drive up to Tivoli for lunch. Seventeen twists on a mountain road, three not well placed and we realized we were lost. We settled for another scrumptious snack of sandwiches, and saddled up to a café bar in the shadow of castle of Rocca Pia. Kami had mastered the art of ordering latte bianco (not to be mistaken with the Starbucks special), but we forget to remind them not to make it caldo and Liji almost thought he was getting hot chocolate instead of a lovely glass of warm milk. Thankfully, my sons have both fallen in love with ham here, which has made it well worth the trip alone. Mr. Hadrian you may have expanded the empire, but we have expanded the palate of a four-year old boy; no small feat. Maybe I should retire to the Villa Adriana and call it a day.
p.s. when you go out for a nice dinner with the boys, let them order just dessert. It make it much easier to enjoy your beef carpaccio when you watch them dip their gelato in their tiramisu.