Homer's Travels: Rome 2023 - Days Six, Seven, Eight, And A Brief Epilogue

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Rome 2023 - Days Six, Seven, Eight, And A Brief Epilogue

Day Six (Thursday)

This was the day we came to Rome for. Today was the day of the Wife's student's ordination into the Diaconate. We put on our best clothes (first time I've traveled with a suit and a second pair of shoes) and entered into St Peters through a side entrance and celebrated the ordination of several seminary students from all over the United States. As the Wife said, I've never seen so many priests in one place before.  ou couldn't ask for a better location.

After the ceremony we dressed down and tried to get to the Pantheon again. This time we tried to hail a cab. The cab hailing apps in Rome are a joke. Over two days trying we never successfully hailed a taxi - we just got a "the Taxis are very busy" message. All the taxis we took were pure luck like when we caught one dropping someone off. We caught one this way and went to the Pantheon.

The unreinforced concrete dome of the Pantheon.
The Pantheon was interesting as was just about everywhere we went in Rome. The former Roman temple, converted into a Catholic church, has the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.  It's kind of amazing how a two thousand year old building can look almost new.  We tried to catch another taxi at a taxi stand next to the Pantheon but the line was long and taxis were dropping people and leaving without picking up another fare. We decided to walk a couple blocks away and the Wife finally was able to wave a taxi down.

That night we were invited to a restaurant by the new Deacon's family. We dressed up again and spent an hour trying our best to get a taxi to stop. There was a line a block long at a taxi stand and as we waited we saw zero taxis stop to pick up people. We finally gave up and had dinner at a bistro not far from the taxi stand. I think, while our hotel was in a great location for walking, it was a terrible location for hailing a ride.  It was just too busy with all the tourists.

Day Seven (Friday)

Our last day in Rome turned out to be one of the best. We got up early to attend the Wife's student's first Mass. We needed to take a taxi and we were not taking no for an answer. We reserved a taxi the night before ... which didn't show up. Fortunately a taxi dropped someone off right in front of us and we jumped in.  (I had a bus route in my back pocket as a backup plan.)

Santa Cecilia entombed under the Basilica altar.
We arrived at the Basilica of Santa Cecilia (the patron saint of music and of Omaha). Out of an abundance of caution and paranoia we got there an hour early. As we waited, about a dozen nuns gathered to sing their morning prayers. It was an unexpected pleasure to witness.

The beautiful chapel to Saint Cecilia in the crypts under the basilica.
Others from Omaha began arriving and Mass was celebrated. The new Deacon said a good first homily. After Mass we all went down in the crypts below the church. There is a beautiful chapel dedicated to St Cecilia there.

We left the church and walked towards the main street that ran along the Tiber river. We would either find a taxi or eat lunch whichever came first. We passed a taxi backing out of a very narrow passage and we asked if he was available and he was. These two easy taxis didn't make up for not getting one the night before and missing dinner but it was a start.

We stopped for lunch before going to our room and napping a little. We had one more planned event for the day and we wanted to be rested up.

The last planned event was a Scavi tour. The Scavi is a group of underground crypts including the remains of Saint Peter. We met a group from Oklahoma and a friend from Omaha (a Deacon who participated in the ordination) with his mother and had a very interesting tour of the Scavi.  The story about the discovery of Saint Peter's remains is practically a thriller.  Unfortunately ... no photos allowed.

After the tour the friend from Omaha and his mother joined us for dinner in a cafe just outside St Peter's Square. We were eating our food when the Wife, in a raised voice, not a yell, said "Father, we're TWiT fans!"
Note: For those who do not know, TWiT is This Week in Tech, a video podcast hosted by Leo Laporte. Leo hosted a tech show called the Screen Savers back when TechTV was a thing on cable. When TechTV was bought and eventually shut down, Leo started his podcast network and has been doing it for over eighteen years (the longest continuous tech podcast in the world). The Father the Wife called out to is a regular guest on TWiT. Father B is one of the Vatican's IT guys and a self proclaimed grey hat hacker.
Father came over, said hello. He recognized the Wife through her tweets (Xits). She followed him as he tweeted about feeding the Vaticats, stray cats who roam the Jesuit compound. He offered to take us to the Vatican store to buy some Grappa. Only our friend from Omaha took him up on that.

Some of the Vaticats.
When they got back from the store Father invited us to the Jesuit compound where he took us up on the roof. The Jesuits have awesome views from the top of their building with views of St Peters and most of Rome. We even saw some Vaticats waiting for their evening meal. While on the roof another Father that the Wife follows on Twitter came by and she had a huge fangirl moment.

Father B was so kind to give of his time. His stories were, frankly, more interesting than the stories of most of the tour guides. Meeting him and seeing where he hangs out made the Wife's and my day. What a great ending to our stay in Rome.

Saint Peters at night.
Due to the unexpected Father encounter we managed to see St Peters all lit up. The Wife and I rarely go out at night so we miss these sights. We'll have to keep that in mind going forward.

Day Eight (Saturday)

Our hotel shuttle took us to the airport.  We hoped for as smooth of a return as our arrival had been but it was not to be.  Our flight to Washington D.C. was fine but out flight to Chicago was delayed by over an hour.  We arrived in Chicago roughly ten minutes before our connecting flight to Omaha was to depart.  We fran from concourse C to concourse E as fast as we could.  We arrived and the door to our plane was closed and there were no airline reps anywhere.  We both kinda freaked out a bit until an airline rep came out of the jetway.  We asked if we could get on and were allowed in.  There were several empty seats on the plane and someone said they were waiting for over eighteen passengers to check in.  This was probably the closest I've come to missing a flight without actually missing a flight.


A week is a long time to spend in a single city but there are a few that have more than enough to see and do. Rome is one of the few. This trip was one of the first pseudo-spontaneous ones we've done. Except for the thieving of my phone, my intermittent navigation skills, and the difficulty catching taxis in a timely fashion, our visit to Rome was an incredible success.

Rome is a beautiful city full of thousands of years of history.  You probably could spend a lifetime exploring its nooks and crannies.  Having said this it is unlikely we will ever return to Rome.  There is so much more to see in Italy outside of Rome.  We saw everything we wanted to see (except for the statue of Romulus and Remus ... that is a long story) in the city.  It is time to move on to the next place on our list.

Next ... Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia next week.

Photographs can be found in my 2023 Rome Google Photo's album.

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