An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

2015 Girls' Trip to Italy: A Papal Blessing, a Lasagna Church, and a Capuchin Crypt (recap, Day 3)

We are just a couple of weeks away from announcing our next trip to Italy, and in the midst of planning itineraries, researching hotels, and deciding on dates, I realized that I never blogged about our first trip (2015 Girls’ Trip to Italy).

Until now. So, for these next few days I will blog about our wonderful trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast (the sights, the food, the adventures) in the hopes that memories will surface and excitement will build for our next trip …

Day 3 ... a papal blessing, a lasagna church, and a crypt
The day started with a delicious breakfast spread (repeat after me: cappuccino and cornetto), after which we met our Central Holidays Tour Director, Jane Stortiglione, who gave us instructions for the week.
breakfast ... just a small section of the offerings

The morning was all about the Papal Blessing in St. Peter's Square. While we waited, some people shopped for religious articles while others stood in line to try and attend Mass in the Basilica. At one point, Maria (who had just purchased a leather wrap bracelet with the "Our Father" in Italian) and Thalia (who had just purchased a Greek cross pendant) turned a corner and bumped into this cardinal. 

very official-looking cardinal

Shortly before noon, without any fanfare, a banner was unfurled and we heard the words, Cari fratelli e sorelle, buon giorno (dear brothers and sisters, good day).  Pope Francis ... at last! Once we returned home I did write a post about the experience; you can read all about it on my post, Papa Francesco.

Bernini's colonnade in St. Peter's Square

Papa Francesco

listening to the pope

in St. Peter's Square

one of us is standing in Rome, the other in Vatican City
The rest of the day was free, so a few people decided to visit Villa Borghese, some decided to walk around Rome to explore and shop, while the rest of the group went on a Catacombs Tour ... which necessitated taking taxis.
Riding in a taxi in Rome is not for the faint of heart. In our taxi there were SEVEN of us -- me and Thalia in front with the driver, and Teresa, Karen, and Julie in the back (with Stephanie sitting on Julie's lap). The driver drove on the trolley tracks, made his own traffic lane, took corners on two wheels, and braked at the last possible second.

We would have feared for our lives, but we had just been blessed by the pope so figured we were good.
a taxi ride in rome
After arriving in different taxis, the group convened in Piazza Barberini to board a bus for the Catacombe di S. Domitilia, which features 15 km of catacombs, a sunken church, and a 2nd century fresco of the Last Supper. From there we visited the hauntingly beautiful Basilica of S. Clemente which is known as the "lasagna church" because of its three architectural layers built one on top of each other: the present building founded during he Medieval period, a house from the Roman times, and a 4th century church.
catacombs, this way
Catacombe di S. Domitilia
the grounds of S. Domitilia were spectacular
Finally we toured the Capuchin Crypt where walls, furniture, and chandeliers are decorated (or built) with ancient human bones. While admittedly macabre, the Capuchins believed that ossuaries are a silent reminder of our mortality and the passage of life on earth. We still thought it was eerie. This was one of those places where we could say, "Been there, done that, and no need to go back."
capuchin crypt

sign upon leaving the Capuchin Crypt:
"What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be."

Here is a summary of our catacombs tour:
Catacombe de S. Domitilia (amazing!)
Basilica of S. Clemente (breathtaking!)
Capuchin Crypt (yikes!)
We returned to the hotel late in the afternoon where ... NEWS FLASH ... 23 women got ready for dinner in under 30 minutes. It's true.
And what a dinner it was. Ristorante Casanova (how's that for a name?), with its multi-course meal and two male opera singers providing entertainment, was the perfect ending to our busy day. At one point the opera guys convinced Stephanie, one of the two college students in our group, to play the piano. She wowed everyone. 

The night ended with a nighttime walking/bus tour of Rome's monuments illuminated at night. To see St. Peter's Basilica during the day is one thing, but to see it illuminated at night, with all the crowds gone, was magical.

with my sisters-in-law

Quote of the Day: "But ... I don't want to pay with my money! It's just been blessed by the pope!" said Thalia at lunchtime, just after the papal blessing in which everything we were holding was considered blessed by the pope.

Tune in tomorrow for timeless works of art, ancient ruins, and a dinner al fresco. We also put our walking shoes to the test.


Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Italy is on my list of places to visit before I die and this makes me want to go now!!!

Maria (also Bia) said...

Beth ... think about joining us on our next trip!

Gigi said...

I SO wish I was in a position to join y'all on the next one - it looks amazing.