Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Double Lives?

Living in Italy we've had the opportunity to watch quite a few professional soccer games. We've come to the conclusion that some of our dear friends are leading double lives as professional soccer players. Let us know what you think.

First up, we have Chris Gulley, an old friend of mine on the left, and Sergio Ramos (defender, Real Madrid) on the right. This isn't actually all that hard to believe since Chris and I played soccer together.

Next we have Andrew De Piante on the left, and Marek Hamsik (forward, Napoli FC) on the right.

Don Aldo, one of our priests at Albano, on the left, and Fabio Quagliarella (foward, Udinese) on the right.

Next combination is Bridget Bryan, a friend of mine on the left, and Philippe Mexes (defender, AS Roma) on the right. This is pretty believable as well, Bridget and Philippe have never been seen in the same place together.

And lastly we have Marco Amelia, (goalkeeper, Livorno) on the left and Fr. Gresko, a priest friend of mine on the right.

Note: This is all meant in good fun, if you see your picture up here and would rather I take it down, let me know :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Baptistry of St. John Lateran

Yesterday we took the opportunity to visit the Baptistry of St. John Lateran which stands a short distance from the actual Basilica. As you might guess from its plain exterior, the octagonal structure is quite old. It was built in 440 on the spot where Constantine was reported to have been baptized.

Mom and some local crumbsnatchers we found, posing for a picture.

The interior of the baptistry - its more elegant side.

This is one of several side chapels. It's a time capsule of eras past. The apse mosaics are from the 4th century.

One of the many frescoes on the walls of the baptistry depicting scenes from Constantine's life. This one shows his triumphal entry into Rome after the battle of the Milvian Bridge.

Last stop before heading home - gelateria! Philly tries out a few new flavors......

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A new favorite restaurant

Last night Alex and I went out for the evening with some friends, Dario and Alessandro. We met Dario in a bar watching a soccer game and he introduced us to his roommate Alessandro. Here's Alessandro on the left and Dario on the right.

Alessandro introduced us to what became our new favorite restaurant. I highly recommend it to anyone coming to Rome. (This means you, Storys and Griggs.) It's off the beaten path, but near three metro stations, so if you know where you're going it's easy to get to. You have to go down a flight of stairs to get to the restaurant (this photo was taken from the door, street level) but it is warm inside, cheerily lit, and populated with many Italians. Definitely not a "tourist joint".

While we were waiting on our main courses we started with some bruschetta. Clockwise from the black one, black olive, porcini mushrooms, white truffle, and pepper spread, with the classic tomato in the middle. And because this isn't a tourist place with inflated prices, a price of just €3.50.

The restaurant, La Vecchia Roma has been around since 1916 and specializes in Roman pastas. Their method of adding the cheese to the pasta is very unique - in giant cheese bowls. These are two big wheels of cheese on a cart which they wheel to your table.

At your table they add a spoonful of alcohol to the hollowed out cheese bowl and light it. This melts the inner layer of cheese. See the flames?

Then the pasta is brought from the kitchen, added to bowl and stirred to remove the gooey layer of cheese that was melted. They'll use any form of pasta you want, and have many sauces to choose from.

The end result....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sistine Chapel Choir

Last night we went to hear the Pontifical Choir of the Sistine Chapel give a concert in the Church of San Giovanni de' Fiorentini. The repetoire was studded with pieces by Palestrina, Perosi, and da Viadana to name a few. We were invited by our friend Vincenzo who is a member of the Choir. Here's a picture of Vincenzo talking with two gentlemen before the program began.

Several Cardinals and the ex-Secretary of State were also in attendance.

A shot of the church with the Choir in the background.

A closer shot of the Choir. They did several 5 and 6-voice pieces, for which boys were used to sing the higher parts.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stational Church, Stational Gelato Shop

Yesterday we went to St. Peter's which was the Stational Church. It happens to be near Old Bridge Gelato Shop which we promptly called the Stational Gelato Shop.

Unfortunately Philomena's cone was so big it took a nose dive. :( So we had to get her another one. Roman ice cream cones are all one size, and they just pile more gelato on if you order a larger size. Luckily our frequent practice (hehe) has enabled us to perfect our gelato eating skills and so this is the first time this has happened.

We went out with our new friends Grant and Kathleen and their two kids Sebastian and Guinevere. Check out the size of that cone compared to Guenevere's head!

Sebastian only wanted chocolate.....

Grant double-fisting. "I wish I could take a picture of how I feel!" he says.

We meandered into St. Peter's square, eating gelato as we went. Here's a shot of mom, Kathleen and Philly behind one of the massive fountains.

Augustin and Andrew showed Sebastian that the fences are merely an obstacle to be overcome.

Once inside St. Peter's we found out that they were having Solemn Vespers. Here's a shot of the main altar with all the relics on display.

A really nice shot looking up towards the dome. All the following shots were taken by Alex.

The procession into the Basilica showing the main altar.

We were excitedly surprised to find out that the veil of Veronica would be exposed. Here's a shot of the main pillar where it is kept and the clergy coming out with it.

Benediction with the veil. You can see the size of the pillar relevant to the people. It is truly amazing, as those of you who've been to St. Peter's can attest.

A closer shot of the veil in its frame. You can see the image of Christ's face, which resembled that on the Shroud.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lateran Seminary

We met up with Fr. Danel, a priest we knew from the United States who was accompanying a tour group here in Rome, to get an insider's look at the Pontifical Lateran Seminary, where Father studied for 6 years.

This is a small chapel inside the seminary with a famous little image of the Blessed Mother. It is famous because during WWI the seminarians were drafted to fight, and all prayed before this image before departing for the front. Miraculously, all of them returned home. When they returned, they melted down their dog tags to make the metal rays surrounding the image.

This is the Vatican gas station, where EU taxes are not paid on gas.

This chapel was where Archbishop Lefebvre received the tonsure and some of the minor orders. As you can see it was "renovated" in the 1970's

My dad's sister Anne (who is visiting us from Virginia) standing in the court yard.

The baptistry where Constantine was baptized, and according to Fr. Danel, the oldest baptistry in Christendom.