Roma: Amore Mia

Trip Start Nov 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Nazionale Rome
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Monday, December 10, 2012


Rome to London

The sun sets spectacularly as we fly over France on our way to London. The whole horizon appears ablaze with amazing reds and oranges.  A fitting close to the Italian part of our vacation.  How fortunate we are to be able to travel as we do. 

The last two days in Roma went by way too quickly.  I spent Saturday evening on my own and Paul met me yesterday afternoon.  As much as I love Rome, it isn't the same without Paul at my side.  I was thrilled when I went to the train station to welcome him to our favorite city.  Once there, and on my rush to get to his track, I walked past him and I could hear my name (in what sounded like a whisper but was actually a shout) coming from who knew where….with all the people shuffling and rushing past, it’s easy to get disoriented.  It was like an army of travelers all armed with luggage doing battle on the field:  crisscrossing, going away from me, coming at me, crisscrossing and zipping (as though choreographed) through 'breaks’ in the rushing mass of humanity, etc.

But allow me to step back.  I came into the same train station a couple of days ago.  We arrived on track 1 and the train stopped quite short of the "normal" terminal.  We were pretty literally about mile down the track from the exit/entrance to the train station.  This is when one starts to question the rationality of carrying a 35 lb backpack filled with camera equipment, my computer in a briefcase hanging across my chest and 2 very stuffed bags (one roller and crammed with a 5 liter tin of olive oil; the other not).  I huffed and puffed with a couple of breaks all the way to the front.  My burden was heavy!  The taxi stand finally appeared in the distance and I was off to the hotel.

I check in at the Albergo Nazionale (excellent, BTW) and walked into my room.  I drew the curtains and was immediately blown away by the beautiful view through my window.  There, like a perfectly framed art photo, lay the city of Rome before me, and in the distance, St Peter’s.  The sun was setting and it cast a golden hue upon the whole city—at least that’s what I saw through my own very biased lens.  Even on the 6th floor, I swear I got wafts of espressos being made across the four corners of Rome….or, should I say, from atop the seven hills of the Eternal City.  I also clearly heard “Jingle Bells” playing and being sung somewhere below in the terra cotta looking forest below me.  I could hardly wait to get out the door and walk the city….but it took me a while to finally pull myself away from my window.  Room 601 is the best!!

I had to make my pilgrimage to the Pantheon first!  It is as beautiful as ever.  In fact, it felt so much more solid and regal (if such characteristics can be attributed to a building).  After an appropriate period of time wallowing in its shadow I made my way to our favorite enoteca by the Spanish Steps.  I knew that the pope usually makes his way there (not to the enoteca, silly—to the Spanish Steps!) on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and I assumed that would have happened earlier in the day.  The streets were completely jammed with people, but that is not unusual for a Saturday night.  Within a minute of arriving at the main road up to the Spanish Steps I heard a murmur emanating from the crowd and then cell phones popped up into the air like prairie dogs in the desert peaking from their holes.  And who drove by me not 10 feet away????  You guessed it…Benedict XVI.  Well, that was an added bonus, but I had a wine waiting for me so I thought I’d make my way around the crowd.  I bolted hoping to avoid people dispersing.  Five blocks away though, there was another stall.  Then, again, the murmur and the phones and . . . (wait for it), yes, Benedict once again crossed my path (I thought he had already left, but was mistaken).  If I didn’t know better I’d say he may have been trying to catch a glimpse of me!

So made it to Enoteca Antica.  A brunello, an amarone and fresh antipasti….heaven.  We’ve been coming to this enoteca for at least 5 years.  We only show up once a year, but at least one of the servers remembers us every time we show up.  We love just sitting at the bar and picking out the antipasti and the wines.  This place is a must-visit.  If you come closer to dinner (around 9pm) it tends to be very busy and hard to get a place at the bar.  But around 7 seems to be the perfect time—generally.  The wines by the glass are the best selection we’ve found and the antipasti selection has always been fresh and delicious!

I meandered back to the hotel and did a little shopping.  The street were still filled with people milling about.  It was an early night for me.

I awoke the next morning to bells ringing from every direction, it seemed.  It was Sunday, the Lord’s day, and all Rome seemed intent on proclaiming it.  The view out the window was still there and the morning sun reflecting on the night’s frost gave everything a shiny, new feel.

After breakfast, I made my way down a few narrow streets back to the Pantheon before heading out to the Spanish Steps to find the Fraternites Monastiques  de Jerusalem for mass.  It was a beautiful service with wonderful chanting.  I think I just found my new “parish church” when in Rome.  The 11am service is in French and the brothers and sisters have a peaceful, serenc chant that is both beautiful and mesmerizing and creates a wonderful meditative space.  There are a couple of iTunes CDs that some of their group have recorded and I use them often for my own meditations.  After mass I walked to Piazza Navona (and beyond towards the Vatican) in search of a little place for lunch.  The afternoon was beginning to get cold so I finally decided on one and had a salad, pizza and glass of wine in the warmth of a little place that seemed to have some locals eating in it.  I finished in time to make it out to meet Paul at the train station.

We made it to the hotel and headed right back out to Enoteca Antica for our meal of the evening.  A couple of glasses of wine, an antipasti plate and a pizza and we were ready to walk back to the hotel room to call it a day.  By 10pm the streets were beginning to thin (it was Sunday night, afterall).

Next morning we slept in a bit but when we finally got moving we headed out for a coffee and croissant before grabbing a cab to the Vatican.  A visit to Rome is never complete without a pilgrimage to St Peter’s.  We spent a few hours there.  Noticed two things—first that we seldom spent time at the Pieta.  It was nice to “rediscover” it and to take in its beauty.  Secondly, the body of Blessed John Paul II has been taken from the crypt and put up in the main church.  They created a small prayer area toward the entrance of St Peter’s (on the right, next to the Pieta).  We made our way around St. Peters and finally meandered to the crypt (where you can see my favorite mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a small chapel right before the relics of St Peter).  We actually were done with plenty of time for us to walk back from the Vatican to our hotel and get packed and out the door in time to catch our 3pm flight to London.  This has been a good visit to Italy and while I hate to leave, it will be nice to begin to think about returning home soon.

Hope you’re having a great week!  More from London in the next and final blog of this trip.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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Alberto on

LOL LOL LOL...a tin of olive oil? Good gods man, what are you thinking! Oh, and the Paul encounter, priceless! Safe trip home! I hope someday we can travel together!

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