Our hotel in Rome was off a tiny street close to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. We checked in around eight PM – still exhausted from the bike tour earlier that day, we retired to the room early following a gelato by the Trevi Fountain. Wednesday, May 5th, Dad and I woke up early and took the metro to see St. John Lateran and St. Paul Outside the Wall – two of the “big four” I had missed in my previous visit. We picked up Annie from the hotel around 11, stopping in at the Pantheon and St. Ignatius church before lunch at “La Piccola Cuccagna” next to Piazza Navona. After lunch we headed to the Villa Borghese (unfortunately, there was no time to row boat – next visit), perhaps the one spot in Rome with a fantastic view of St. Peters Dome that Dad had not yet seen. To continue our day of endless metro riding and hill climbing, Dad took us to see my favorite of Bernini’s sculptures, St. Teresa in Ecstasy. On the way down from St. Teresa, we stopped at the copy store to buy the artsy-fartsy Stabilo pens Dad was eyeing to compliment his trendy Moleskin notebook. Only Comm Arts majors would write about buying pens in a blog (I got a new Faber-Castell 0.1 which I am very happy with). Anyway, for dinner we ended up at a little hole-in-the-wall down the street from the hotel and had one of those magical experiences where everything we ate was “THE BEST _____ I’VE EVER TASTED!” For the main courses, Annie went with spaghetti, Dad had the calamari, and I had swordfish. Molto Buono!
Thursday, Dad woke up early to get in line for the Vatican Museums – Annie and I met up with him just as it opened and got in quickly. We had a few hours before our tour of St. Peters with Michael, our seminary school friend, so we could take our time in the Raphael Rooms and “Pinacoteca” wing. We met for the tour in St. Peter’s Basilica, which was, again, fantastic. This time I took notes (new pen!) so I could absorb more of the information. A couple we had met while eating Gusta Pizza in Florence recommended a pizzeria in the Trestavere section called Dar Poeta. It took us a while to find and so lunch hour turned into a “linner” type meal by the time we sat down to eat. Dar Poeta had by far my favorite pizza in Italy – thin but not too thin and exactly the right amount of crisp. After linner, we walked Annie back to the hotel and went quickly up the street to see the Caravaggio exhibit at the Scuderie del Quirindale. Dad was not so impressed by the “cartoony blood”, but the exhibit confirmed Caravaggio as my favorite Baroque Era painter (whose name begins with the letter “C”). You can’t spend four months in Italy and come out with a favorite anything, food, art or otherwise, it’s all incredible.