Friday, April 26, 2019

Pearls in Rome, Day Five (Borghese Gardens, Bone Church, Trastevere)

If you've been following this little series so far, you know that my husband and I had already packed in a lot of sightseeing (and walked a lot of miles!) during our first four days in Rome, when we spent one glorious week there in March.  (If you haven't read about those adventures and you want to catch up, you can find the first four posts here: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four.)

Now, on to Day Five (which was another one for the record books!).

Sunday, March 24

The first event on our agenda was, of course, Sunday Mass.

Even though the liturgy is exactly the same in every language throughout the world (in our one, universal Catholic Church), we decided to go to the early Mass at San Patrizio a Villa Ludovisi (St. Patrick's), where the Mass would be said in our native tongue.  This church used to be one of the national churches of Ireland located in Rome, but in 2017 it became the national church of the USA.  St. Patrick's is under the pastoral care of the Paulist Fathers of NYC.  (Until 2017, when the Paulists were transferred to St. Patrick's, Santa Susanna was the home of the American parish in Rome, and that was where my husband--an international pilot--often attended Sunday Mass when he was there for layovers.)

Nothing against this lovely church named for one of my favorite saints, but it was definitely not nearly as ornately beautiful as the others we'd seen in the preceding days.  However, as much as I had fallen in love with Rome and with all things Italian by this point, I found it comforting to listen to the familiar prayers in English that morning.  (And even though San Patrizio is not quite up to St. John Lateran standards as far as opulence and splendor, it is ever so much more beautiful than our modest parish church here in our small VA town!)

After Mass, we spent a couple of relaxing hours walking around the bucolic Borghese Gardens, Rome's very own version of Central Park, stopping now and then to sit on a bench to rest and people-watch.  What a lovely Sunday activity this was!   Musicians were playing here and there along the paths, joggers and bikers were out in force, and families with small children were taking advantage of the mild temperatures to stroll, eat gelato, and play in the grass.  I heard a young Italian father trying to get his little girl to come, because it was time to leave.  She wouldn't obey, so finally he said, "Arrivederci, Sophia!"--and what do you know, she came running!  I was so amused to see this interaction; parents the world over use the same tactics with their kids, no matter what language they speak.

I just adored exploring this oasis of green located in the heart of Rome.  The Borghese Gardens are extensive, and meandering along those tree-lined walkways you could almost forget you were right in the middle of a bustling city.  (My pictures won't do it justice.)

After we left the Borghese Gardens, we visited the "Bone Church," which is essentially a crypt or burial place for thousands of Capuchin monks. This is an amazing place!  First, we had a little audio tour that gave the history of the Capuchin Order; then we toured the chapels that are decorated--in an amazingly artistic fashion--completely with the real bones of dead monks.

We were not allowed to take pictures in the chapels, so I'm providing this image from the Internet.

After that sobering (but not as depressing as you might think!) experience, we stumbled upon an impromptu parade and that was a real pick-me-up.  A marching band just happened to be lining up in the street as we passed by, and we ended up walking along with them down one of the main thoroughfares of Rome, Via Veneto.

After we broke off from the parade, we took a walk across the Tiber River, on our way to a very special neighborhood of Rome, a section of the city that my husband loves and where he thought I would enjoy spending the afternoon.

You can see the dome of St. Peter's behind me in the distance.

I fell absolutely in love with this charming neighborhood known as Trastevere.  We wandered around its narrow cobbled streets, on the most gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon, taking it all in.  That day, I was sure that Trastevere was my very favorite part of Rome...but my favorites seemed to change moment by moment, because it was just all so spectacular.

We stopped for cocktails and dinner at a pretty swanky place called Sabatini's, and we snagged a great table right on the edge of the piazza, optimal for people-watching.

We started out by each ordering a Spritz Veneziano (Spritz for short), a yummy Proseco-based concoction.  I loved it!  But my guy--not so much.  I got a refill, but he switched to beer for cocktail number two.

We had a lovely dinner (I ordered seafood and risotto, a bit of a change from my usual pasta choices). I hated to leave Trastevere, but the sun was about to set and we had a long walk ahead of us.  Not only that, but we had big plans for Monday, including the Vatican Museum, so we wanted to get a good night's sleep.

I love this picture I snapped on the bridge as we walked back across the Tiber toward "home."  I can see why photographers call dusk the "golden hour" for taking photos!  No filter needed here.

We popped into a few beautiful churches along our route (they are everywhere in Rome--everywhere!), just for a quick look-around, and then as we made our way to our apartment we decided to try something new for our traditional gelato nightcap.  We went to the Lindt gelateria, where all the flavor choices were some variation of chocolate.  We liked it a lot, but decided that for the rest of our time in Rome, we were going to stick to Giolitti's--which had become "our" gelato shop!

My only regret at the end of this spectacular Sunday was that I didn't have someone take a photo of us at Sabatini's, holding our beautiful orange Spritzes.  I should have asked the waiter to do it for us, but as usual let my shyness carry the day.  Not to worry: this photo of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck--from my new favorite old movie, Roman Holiday--will suffice in a pinch.  It gives you a good idea of how much we were enjoying the experience of sipping our drinks at our little outdoor table...

What an amazing and unforgettable day this was!  And we still had two more days to go. Stay tuned, bellas!


  1. I just read this post over and realized just about every paragraph starts with the word "after" or "we." Not the best writing (some author I am!). But I just had to get all of these memories down before they fade into oblivion--and apparently, my technique suffers when I'm in a hurry!

    (Yes, commenting on my own blog post here...)

    1. Haha! No worries, Laura. As you said, it's about the memories. :)

  2. I am enjoying seeing Rome through your eyes! What a wonderful trip for you and Tim.

  3. I love it! Looks like a perfect trip! And you look stunning in every picture .... so happy!

  4. What a lovely Sunday, definitely one to remember! I am so glad you have your posts to remember the trip forever.