|the Apostles at St. Peter's Basilica|
|St. Anne's Chapel at the Vatican|
|Mass at the Vatican|
After numerous photos had been taken, we discovered there were no more lines into St. Peter’s Basilica. It seems that sundown is the best time to visit the Vatican! Just as the bells were chiming, we were inside and felt utmost glee as we found out that a concelebrated mass had just started in honor of a Bishop being installed. There must have been sixty priests officiating in various capacities, and a large choir sang such melodious Latin mass hymns. We felt blessed.
And when we stepped out, the rows of empty chairs waiting for the usual Papal blessing the next day were already arranged and cordoned off. Lots more photos were taken while Marisella explained the significance of all the buildings around, including all the statues of the Apostles guarding the Square. She also showed us where the Pope descends to bless the faithful who visit him every Wednesday.
|ready for the Papal Blessing next day|
|JIngjing and I at the Spanish Steps|
Bill and I were in Rome just last March, but we did not go to the Spanish Steps. So Marisella took us there for an obligatory photo. Unfortunately, the place was not as lively and decorated as we thought it would be. But Jingjing wanted to buy some clothes and luggage for the rest of our trip. So Marisella took us to the Remova store that was just closing. Three ladies pleading by the door must have been too difficult for them to turn down and Jingjing walked away with a much-wanted model.
|shopping at Via Coronari|
And this, for me, became the second highlight of our 22-hour layover. What unfolded during our couple of hours there was the best Italian meal I have ever had in my years of traveling. First of all, the bread was not just freshly baked, some were infused with olives, others with lots of herbs, and still others with lots of cheese. How I wished I could take them home! Then the three of us shared a large salad and pasta with fungi that tasted heavenly but served as appetizers.
|our marvelous dinner|
|with Prime Minister Mateo Renzi|
Marisella called for the chef/owner so we could have a photo with him and he proudly showed off his kitchen and a few of the creations they were making. But, do you think that was all? Heavens, no! Suddenly, Marisella noticed that right behind me at the next table was the Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi, having dinner with five other colleagues. And she ingeniously took a couple of shots of him and me!