2015 Fall Kelly O'Brien Temple Rome

Why Having Your Family Visit Is A Blessing And A Curse

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I live for family. Quite literally, my family is my first priority and one of the only things I actively think about all of the time. Out of maybe five conversations I have, my family is what I am talking about for three of them. So, coming abroad was especially intimidating because I knew I would get homesick. The first few weeks I was behind in work, gaining the abroad weight, and homesick. However, I grew out of it! I felt like I was really getting the hang of the abroad thing; then my family came. Having my family come was the most amazing thing I could have imagined  when considering coming abroad. Though now I am right back where I started: few pounds heavier, behind in school, and very homesick.

The visit was honestly amazing and I could not have asked for a better trip. My dad flew separately, so I got to meet and greet not only my mom and four siblings at the hotel, but surprise my dad at the train station. He was originally supposed to meet us at the hotel, but I anxiously went to Termini and smiled widely as I saw his standard, blue University of Michigan jacket on the platform. After seeing them that first day, I started regretting how fast I knew the trip would go. I started getting pits in my stomach when we would go to my favorite places because I knew in a week’s time that I would not be able to return without feeling sad and wishing they were by my side. Still, once I saw them I spent every single moment I could with them.

Although we were only in Rome for three days, we walked over fifty miles, saw more than ten different historical monuments, and had gelato five times (hence the few added pounds in a short week). The trip was a classic O’Brien vacation with a twist: actual site seeing centered around food as opposed to a beach vacation centered around food. But, my favorite part of my family coming was how genuinely happy my parents would be at times. The best part of my day would be my dad or mom saying out loud to no one in particular “I cannot believe we are actually here.” Being able to share this experience with them was unreal. I never dreamed I would be able to talk to them on the phone and have them truly know what place or food or area I was talking about because they had been there. This vacation my parents and siblings were no longer living vicariously through me, but were actually living with me. I know that sounds cheesy, and it is, but I would not have it any other way.


That whole week brings me to where I am now, sitting on my bed, reading the short post-it note letters my mom always leaves when we travel, and feeling crazy homesick. But this homesick, being behind in school, and a being a little curvier is a state that I wouldn’t change for anything given the experience I got to have.


  1. Kelly,
    My son is going to Temple Rome, 1/10-4/30. My husband and I have 4 kids over 17yo.
    I assume my son will stay in his Temple housing while we visit, so I have to make reservations for 5 of us.
    I am concerned about everything… from choosing flights, (did your family fly into FCO?), to accommodations for a large family, (where did they stay?), to methods of transport around Italy with 6 people, to size of restaurants (we are always a large group!). What sites did you squeeze into their short week?
    Will you please give me details of your family’s trip. No sense in inventing the wheel!
    I am sure it will be helpful!

    1. Hello!

      My family visited and all of us were totally fine–so don’t worry! My mom and siblings flew into FCO and took a cab to their hotel. Cabs that go from FCO to the center of Rome (where your hotel will most likely be and where your son is staying) are a set fee of 48 euro. My dad flew separately and he took the train from FCO to Termini (the main train station of Rome).Both methods were very easy for them! Theirs flights were all around 5 pm, which got them into Rome in the morning.

      My family stayed near Termini train station. There are a lot of hotels in the area. My other friends had their families visit and besides hotels some stayed in Air B n Bs. If you are considering this option, here is the website I generally used for Air B n Bs while abroad: https://www.airbnb.com/s/Rome–Italy

      This is the hotel that my family and I stayed at. We travelled to Florence and Venice, but this hotel was by far our favorite of the three cities. It has a great size room and a delicious breakfast included! It is within walking distance from Termini train station, which is very convenient for navigating throughout the city: http://www.starhotels.com/en/our-hotels/metropole-rome/

      Fortunately my family was okay with walking everywhere! However, something I would consider doing is buying metro passes. Although public transportation is not the best in Rome, the passes are convenient and you can get day passes, 3 day passes, etc. that can save you a lot of money. The metro is easy to understand and will be convenient with all of the touristy things you will want to see! Finding a cab to accommodate all of us was tricky so we never took a single one! If you prefer cabs, you might have to take two separate ones.

      My family did a lot in Rome! They arrived Sunday and we walked around, saw the Coliseum, and went to Trastevere (a more trendy area in Rome where students tend to go out, has a lot of great restaurants). Monday was the Vatican (we had an amazing tour that we booked through this–http://www.througheternity.com) and more walking around, this time in Piazza del Popolo. This has a lot of popular stores and connects to all of the major sites you should see–Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish steps, Campo de Fiori, and Piazza Navona. Tuesday we made sure to visit all of the necessary sites we missed that I mentioned above. If you have the time, I also recommend visiting Testaccio. The area has amazing restaurants and an amazing food market. IF you are in Rome on a Sunday you can also go to Porta Portese, which is the biggest flea market ever. Another great market located near where your son lives is Mercato Trionfale–make sure he goes everyday!

      As for restaurants and gelato places, I have you covered!

      Duecento Gradi (great paninis, near the Vatican)
      Romanesco (awesome authentic Roman food, near Piazza Navona)

      Old Bridge Gelato (great gelato, near the Vatican by Duecento Gradi)
      Frigidarium (best gelato, near Piazza Navona)
      Giolitti (most famous gelato, off of Via del Corso–center road of Piazza del Popolo)
      Romano (healthiest gelato, near entrance of Piazza del Popolo on my FAVORITE street in Rome, Via Cola di Rienzo)

      Dar Poeta (Trastevere, my favorite restaurant in Rome, delicious pizza…make sure to get the nutella calzone!)
      Da Baffeto (very very thin pizza, right next to Frigidarium gelato by Piazza Navona)
      Maccheroni (in Piazza del Popolo, best gnocchi I have ever had, pasta)
      ‘Gusto (in Piazza del Popolo, very good aperitivo–you buy a 10 euro drink and get the buffet with it)
      Flavio al velavevodetto (Testaccio, best ravioli I have ever had)
      Ad Hoc (in Piazza del Popolo, very good truffle restaurant but extremely expensive)

      Quick eats:
      Pizza Rustica (chain, very good pizza on the go)
      Mondo Arancina (by Temple, delicious rice balls, pizza, etc)
      Alice Pizza (by Temple, best pizza on the go–also right near an alimentari with a brown awning that all temple students go to for paninis)

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      1. Kelly,
        Sorry for the delay in response. Life got a bit hectic, then I couldn’t find the blog to see if you responded.
        Thank you very much for your time and thoughts!
        I have copied all of it and will use your thoughts in planning our trip. We have our flights booked, but look forward to the rest of the planning.
        I hope you are settled back at school now, and that you have a wonderful Spring semester.
        Thanks again!

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