Italy Part One

When we received the travel itinerary for the trip from our son, I was so impressed with the time and love that he put into the planning of this amazing trip. I rarely boast about Mikos, but both Mike and I felt as though we were in the hands of a loving, considerate tour guide. Mikos took a deep dive in studying the history and culture of Italy for this great adventure. This itinerary is my favorite souvenir.

There are Ten Commandments, but only the fifth comes with a promise. Our son honored us every step of the way.

My hope was to draw closer to our grandchildren, especially Maddie who will be leaving for college soon. Both Maddie and Will have jobs and their busy schedules barely allow time for their family, so it was wonderful to spend this special time with them. Our role as grandparents is to watch our grandchildren bloom and to continue to pray for their well-being.

Our welcoming committee, Hilaria and Elena
We arrived to settle into the flat several hours before the rest of the family. We are accustomed to nice hotels with all the amenities, but this type of accommodations was surprisingly wonderful. We were greeted by Hilaria and Elena, who warmly welcomed us to the Romans’ way of living. Three full bedrooms and two bathrooms, a large living area and a dining room with a kitchen. The best part about the flat was that it was located a stone’s throw away from the Spanish steps. We settled in and started our adventure.
The Church Bells

Before everyone arrived Mike and I took a stroll. We made it to the corner of our street when I heard the church bells calling my name. I told Mike, “I need to go to Mass!” So we did. Mass in the Basilica dei Santi Ambrogio e Carlo was beautiful. After Mass we met two of the parish priests. “You know, Father, when I heard the bells ringing, I knew it was time for Mass,” I said. The sweetest reply from one of the priests, “That a-why we ring the bells.” He could have added “you big dummy” but he didn’t. You never grow tired of hearing the bells, reminding us to pray.

Fr. Gustavo, Mike, me and Fr. David

When the rest of the group arrived, I saw Maddie rushing out of the SUV, taking pictures. We were all so excited to be here!  We took a long stroll, first to the Spanish Steps and then to the Via del Corso to walk to the Trevi Fountain. Both Maddie and Will tossed a coin into the fountain. Then gelato!

Will tossing a coin Trevi Fountain
Our flat had a main door, followed by wrought-iron gates which led to the elevator. Elevators in Europe are mostly cumbersome, and this elevator could only fit maybe three people at the most. Will took on the role of being my elevator buddy, making sure that I was safely transported from point A to point B. This was Will’s calling; he raced me to the elevator doors the entire trip!
Pantheon, Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum

I had never visited the inside of the Pantheon. This Roman temple was built in 27 BC, and in 609 AD was dedicated as La Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres. Raphael, the famous Renaissance artist’s tomb is located off to the left of the altar. For a second I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like celebrating Mass in this 2,000- year-old building.


We met Marco, our guide for the day. Mikos wanted his kids to really appreciate the trip and as much information as he gleaned from the travel guide books, it’s always good to have a guide to answer questions and add new insight to the historical events that took place.

Marco, our guide

Marco’s tour started with the Forum. We stood in front of the famous area where Mark Anthony spoke his famous words, “Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears.” Then we walked past the spot where Julius Caesar was brutally murdered.

The Forum
The Forum
Mikos warned us that it was a three hour tour. Before Marco took us to the Colosseum I needed a bathroom break. When we got to the restrooms, I counted eight women ahead of me and started to panic. Of course only three men were in the men’s line, which included Mike and Mikos. Mikos allowed me passage into the men’s water closet.
I took pictures of Mikos and the family at the Colosseum, but only caught the sky as the background. I was fired on the spot!
Mikos made dinner reservations at ll Chianti. I love Roman food–Caprese salad almost at every meal, bread drenched in olive oil and vinegar and their pasta! I had the most delicious lasagna and shared it with everyone. That’s what we did at almost every dinner; we all experienced each others’ meals. Chianti wine is the best and, though I’m not a big drinker, the wine has to be part of the meal. It really makes sense. Rome by far has the greatest food! Gelato again, but this time I wanted to Americanize it and asked for gelato with cookies and cream. It was heavenly!
On this particular day I walked 25,495 steps, equaling 10 1/2 miles! Only through the grace of God could Mike and I have accomplished this. As I got ready for bed that night,  both of my feet were throbbing in unison. There was never any pain, but it was as if my heart moved to my feet and for several hours the throbbing put me to sleep.

During the four days of our visit in Rome, at the end of each day we would gather in the living area to discuss our adventures. The flat was a perfect setting for our gatherings!

Mike watched a few Italian cooking shows that included a woman, maybe in her sixties, wearing a simple apron in a rather small but functional kitchen. It was nothing like our staged television cooking shows in the U.S.  She was more like me, “The Reluctant Chef,”  but she knew what she was doing.

My Prayer

Lord, how can I start to thank You for all of Your blessings on our family. Thank You for allowing us to attend Mass and pray for the needs of others.  I prayed for all the people who read My Catholic Roots and ask that You bless them. Bless Mikos, Jenny, Maddie and Will for sharing this adventure with us. Amen.

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