We went to Orte, a small town located about an hour from Rome, to look at an apartment. Yes, an apartment. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve longed for outdoor space for years. But as it turns out, a garden is just as hard to find in Rome as it was in New York City. So when I saw the ad saying “large terrace in a hilltop village”–for less than half of what we pay now–I packed up the crew and set out to see it on a sunny Saturday.
The apartment was indeed nestled into the side of a stone wall, a cave really. The architecture of the whole village was charming and fascinating. And the apartment itself was also interesting with a beautifully open kitchen layout, a big terrace and even a wine cellar. However, it was an awkward layout for a family with small children; two steps up here, one flight down there, uneven cement floors in places, bedrooms on separate floors. And worse, it was old and needed repair–but the owner didn’t think so. She remembered the apartment as it was in the glory days, even whipping out the family photo album to show us how she’d overseen the renovation herself…fifteen years ago. As Paul said, it would be an amazing place to buy and fix up yourself, but not to rent. And not from her.
So we headed home, to our own apartment that isn’t in need of repair and has all of the bedrooms on one floor. (It’s funny, for as much time as I’ve spent looking for other apartments, none are ever better than ours. I’m always relieved to get home! And with Bambina II coming soon, my days of real estate exploration are over. For now.) On a tip from the owner, we stopped at what she explained to be a park with a playground. Only the whole thing was fenced off. Confused but determined to figure it out since we’d actually found the place, we wandered in through the open doors of an entrance around the corner. That’s where we found ourselves paying 9 Euros each so we could enjoy the little playground but also visit Bomarzo, the semi-famous sculpture park created in the 16th century by the famously wealthy Orsini family. It’s their “Park of Monsters”, with dozens of over-sized sculptures of every kind.
It turned out to be something Paul had wanted to see for a while. But it was also dangerously close to nap time and not knowing we were about to embark on several acres of gardens, we left the stroller in the car. So we strolled, in the literal sense. We saw about six pieces before calling it quits–and nap time.
Laughing to ourselves back in the car, we wondered why the lady hadn’t mentioned the park’s true setting but then thought, maybe she hasn’t been here in a while. Maybe fifteen years.