Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: The Best 22 Hours You Can Ever Have in Rome

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Our Lifestyle Adventures: The Best 22 Hours You Can Ever Have in Rome

the Apostles at St. Peter's Basilica
Our next destination should have been Malta, but trips there pass by Rome. What I did not notice was that the layover in Rome was 22 hours! When Jingjing pointed that out to me, we I hurriedly booked a studio near the Vatican, again recommended by Marisella, so we could, at least, visit St. Peter’s Basilica. But what was supposed to be a non-event became my best 22 hours ever in the eternal city.

The Vatican
St. Anne's Chapel at the Vatican
Mass at the Vatican
We got to our studio at around 4 pm, and as soon as Marisella arrived, we hurried to he Vatican’s St. Anne’s Gate just two short blocks away. At the lovely small chapel there, Jingjing lighted candles for dear friends and family. A few more steps away, the massive pillars of The Colonnade greeted us, opening to the magnificent Vatican Square, the central fountain and the historic buildings that surround it.
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
The Spanish Steps and Shopping

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
Then Marisella hailed a cab and took us to Via Dei Coronari where she lives. Jingjing indeed was blessed as some shops were still open and she was able to buy some clothes. After taking photos at the massive entrance door to her apartment, we quickly proceeded to her favorite restaurant, the Osteria del Pregno, just a few steps away. As we sat down, Jingjing magnanimously announced it was her treat!

The Meal that Tops all Meals

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
Then came the piece de resistance for each of us. Jingjing loved her lamb chops, and I had the best Osso Bucco I have ever had! I could not believe it. Bill and I had it once, and I liked it. I tried to cook it once, and it was edible enough. But this was delicious, the beef shank just melting in your mouth. As if that was not sufficient, the tiramisu was out of this world, extra moist with traditional ladyfingers distinctly part of the concoction. Bill, who once tasted a tiramisu he can never forget, has always been disappointed with later versions he has tried. But I am sure he would drool over this one!

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!

Piazza Navona
After dinner, we passed by the beautiful Piazza Navona. Although 14 of my 22 hours in Rome were spent in our Vatican studio sleeping, Facebooking, settling in and preparing to go, chancing upon a mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica and having a fine Italian meal with the Italian Prime Minister made those hours the best I have ever had in Rome! What more could a little old lady ask? Nothing, except I wished Bill was with me! Thank you Marisella and Jingjing for this fabulous time in Rome! Ciao!

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