Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Europe Part I: Ah, Rome!

Buon Giorno!
The hotel I stayed at on Borgo Pio.  Lovely boutique hotel with beautiful rooms.
 Back in June I took a dream trip to Europe.
I'm still feeling the high of having done something so adventurous!

This is one of my first photos when I realized, Hey!  I'm in Rome!

I met up with friends who had already been in Italy for a week.  Despite phone connection issues, we managed to run into each other outside the hotel.  Our first stop was Castel San Angelo just a few blocks from the Vatican.  The photo above is from an upper window.  The views were stunning!

Later that day, we took a taxi to the Coliseum.  Sadly we got there right at closing time.  We walked around the building anyway and visited some of the ruins in the area including the Roman Forum.

Ruins of the Roman Forum
The next day we went back to the Coliseum so we could get inside.  It was worth the wait and a second trip!  You have to climb the stairs to an upper level to really appreciate the size of the coliseum.

One thing I was really looking forward to in Rome was eating lots of pizza and pasta!
I was not disappointed in the food.
Mama Mia!  This Porcini Pizza was unbelievable!  The waitress told us porcini mushrooms were in season and they has some come in fresh that day.  I'm a big one for eating local and fresh so I had to get the pizza.  My friends may have eaten a piece or two, but I made sure to finish the whole darn thing!
Porcini Pizza
 We also had wine---and lots of it!
Enjoying wine in the piazza

The Pope's Spaghetti Carbonara
 An interesting story goes with my favorite meal of the entire trip, Spaghetti Carbonara.  We met up with a priest friend of ours who has been in Rome for about three years now.  He is fluent in Italian which came in handy that day.  When I ordered the spaghetti carbonara, she told us that happened just two weeks before we were there.  A cardinal from Argentina is a frequent customer, and one day he brought another Argentinian cardinal with him.  Everyone thought he looked exactly like Pope Francis.  He of course they both denied that he was the Holy Father and proceeded to order the Spaghetti Carbonara, which he raved over.  Apparently it is well known that Pope Francis loves Spaghetti Carbonara.  He also loves his independence.  So was it him?  Maybe, maybe not, but I will always believe I had the Pope's Spaghetti Carbonara!

A glass of Prosecco for lunch

Raising our glasses for a toast

One night we went to dinner and acted like typical crazy, loud Americans drinking too much Limoncello and Grappa.  Salut!

St. Peter's Square in the early morning before very many tourists were out.
While waiting for the next delicious meal, we filled our time seeing the amazing sights.  We went to the Vatican Museum with our friend Fr. Timothy who happened to be very well informed and gave us a fabulous tour.  Here are just a few photos from that tour.

View from an upper floor of the Vatican Museum

A room of alabaster sculptures--they were beautiful!

A gorgeous frescoed ceiling at the Vatican Museum in the Room of the Muses

There was so much to see in the Vatican Museum and just not enough time!  I was the only one in our group interested in the paintings.  Fr. Timothy would have been happy to discuss them with me.  As I sprinted past, I recognized names of famous artists who I was surprised to see had done sacred art.  One of them was Salvador Dali.  Towards the end of his life, he had a "reversion" and began painting sacred art in his typical style.
The Trinity by Salvador Dali, 1960

My friend Kathy and I spent a day sightseeing on our own.  It took us awhile, but we managed to find the famous Trevi Fountain--packed with people!

With great anticipation, I did get to see the Sistine Chapel.  It is truly awe inspiring, but you're not allowed to take pictures!!  We sort of stumbled upon St. Ignatius of Loyola Church with a frescoed ceiling that almost rivals the Sistine Chapel.  The frescoes were painted by Andrea Pazzo in 1685.

Ceiling of St. Ignatius of Loyola

One evening we got to participate in a candlelight procession down the Via to St. Peter's Square for the Evangelium Vitae conference.

A major highlight for me was attending a Papal Mass in St. Peter's Square.  It was also our last activity in Rome.  We went straight to the airport for the flight to...Paris!!

I'll have to do another post with more of the artwork and architecture I saw.  There was just so much so see and do and lots of artist eye candy!