It has been a wretched Spring Break here – all rain, and the few sunny days we have had, the girls and I have been tied up in other activities. I told them that we would go somewhere on Friday, rain or sunshine, and I had picked Aquileia. I knew Addie could go to the CDC, so I wanted to pick somewhere that was a little more historical and informative for Anya. Lorelei will do anything that Anya wants to do, so she was in too. We got some Euro from the bank, the all-important coffee for driving, and set off. The town is a little over an hour from us. I love driving on short trips – the kids watch a movie, and I get to listen to music uninterrupted. Everyone wins.
Our first stop was the basilica. This basilica dates back to 4th century AD and has undergone many changes since its inception. According to the short information pamphlets and the Aquileia website, “St Mark brought the message of the Gospel to these lands being sent here by St. Peter…he met and converted Ermacora who became the first priest of the small Christian community, which slowly grew in number despite the fears and difficulties. He was martyred with his Deacon Fortunato, and they are, together with the Virgin Mary, the patron Saints of the Basilica.”
Aquileia was home to many martyrs, all of whom are honored there. The most impressive part of the basilica, in our opinion, was the mosaic floor. It is the widest and oldest mosaic floor in the Christian world. There are clear platforms for walkways, since you are not allowed to walk on the floor. It has been remarkably preserved and has many different designs and patterns. We took some pictures of the entire basilica including the crypts we hurried through (the girls aren’t real impressed with bones and the thought of dead bodies!)
Our next stop was for lunch. I was willing to shell our a little Euro for a sit down meal – but kids love pizza, so we grabbed a quick slice. I give them credit, it was cheap, delicious, and easy. Anya’s new favorite pizza is the patatina – french fry pizza. It is surprisingly good! We walked to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, but there were no pictures allowed inside or even on the grounds. The workers inside there practically stalked the girls and I through all 3 floors, making sure we didn’t take pictures! But we saw some ancient artifacts – the girls liked the jewelry, I liked all the coins. The best part is that kids 10 and under were free, so it only cost us 4 Euro! We then walked around the town to look at the various sites of the Roman ruins. They are all over the town, and it was fun to show the girls pieces of life and structures that were hundreds and hundreds of years old. I do not think they were nearly as excited as I was, but I’m glad they have seen something like this. Gives them good preparation for a future visit to Rome, right?
We managed to see most of the town before the ominous rain clouds appeared yet again. We were going to try and hit Palmanova, a fortress town close to there, but we were greeted with a sudden downpour just as we got into our car. Alas, we will save that one for another day trip. However, today I was able to expose my girls to history as well as to educate myself a little more. It was only a short drive, a few Euro for lunch and a museum, and some light walking. That is my kind of day trip, and these always make me appreciate living in another country a little more. When else would I get a chance to see ancient ruins and artifacts from the 1st century just a little ways from my home? Besides that, it was yet another chance to spend some quality time with 2 of my 3 children, pictured here with their momma. I still feel that while military life has many sacrifices, it also has a few perks – and day trips around Italy are just another one for my children and myself.