I am in Roma to join a small group of 12 pilgrims from New York State being led by one of our friars, Fr. George Sandor. Friar George studied in Rome and knows the cit well… he also knows the history and the culture of Rome, which makes such a difference. I thought it would be a real privilege to be able to be with him an explore this city. The pilgrimage is 10 days of JUST Rome. They say a life-time is not enough to exhaust Rome; so what’s 10 days. Well, it’s better than most have to spend here. The group was arriving from the US on BA via London. After unpacking and enjoy the splendour of my little room I decided to take a little walk outside. I left a message for Fr. George as I expected the group to arrive in a couple of hours. I also figured that with the problems at Heathrow with luggage they might be delayed.
To my great surprise they had already arrived! A couple of weeks ago, with all the price changes to airfares, the travel agent changed them to a direct flight from the US on US Airways. Fortunately we were able to get together that afternoon. Thus the pilgrimage began!
We all met in the lobby of the hotel and started our little tour. Of course, being behind the Pantheon we started there. This is the oldest Roman building still in use in Rome. This temple to the Roman Gods is a church and also contains the tomb of Umberto the King of Italy and Victor Emmanuel the founder of modern Italy. It’s probably the most beautiful building in Rome. It is not greatly decorated, but the simplicity of its architecture is stunning. The piazza around the Pantheon is enchanting and full of small restaurants and cafes.
We the proceeded to visit a couple of nearby Jesuit churches, the Gesu and Saint Ignatius. These are stunningly decorated churches. St. Ignatius also contains some beautiful sculptures by Michelangelo.
As we made our way back to the Pantheon we stopped at Fr. George’s favourite coffee shop, Taso D’Oro for some coffee granite. It’s coffee flavoured ice, that is then covered with whipped cream. It provides quite the decadent jolt!
After a little rest at the hotel and a shower (It’s really hot) we sort of got lost on purpose in the streets around the Pantheon only to arrive at a place that I really wanted to see, the Riccioli Café.
It’s actually more of a restaurant that specializes in Sushi. But like most Italian establishments, it’s also a bar. So we stopped in for a drink and then found a little Osteria da Mario for cena (dinner). We had a classic Roman meal of spaghetti a la carbonnara, Saltimboca alla Romana and Broccolini. Everything tastes so much better in Italy!
On the way home we checked out Fr. George’s favourite gelato store, Della Palma, which has about 100 flavours of gelato. Amazing… and good.
NB… I’ve been trying to upload photos but it is not working. I’ll have to find another way.