Whenever Hilary and I get together after being apart for six weeks were like a couple of giggling gals gossiping in a schoolyard. We laugh a lot but also have many serious conversations about life and love that involve crying and hugging. These sessions usually involve one or more bottles of Prosecco, wine, cheese, figs, spreads, breads, etc. This girl time between us is sacred and necessary and its one of the things I love the most about our friendship.
This trip to Rome with the men in our lives and with Hilarys brother and family meant that this girl time would most likely be sacrificed. Which is fine as long as we get to have some time with each other even with others around and do what we do when we travel together, which is to have little wine and cheese parties, eat, and sightsee.
As far as travel partners go, Hilary and I get on quite well. Im pretty much GO,GO,GO, SEE, SEE, SEE (which is why you wont read about any 2hr long lunches on my part of the blog!) and she is more relaxed, likes to write in her journal, have a coffee and sightsee. So when she said her brother Brian wanted to go see the Pope doing Wednesday Mass and did we want to go, strangely my first response was Wednesday Mass? Uh no. After all I am Jewish, this Pope used to be part of the Hitler Youth. But, after thinking a little more about it, it is after all THE POPE, and we are in ROME, then why the hell not, its not like Im going to burst into flames by setting foot in church.
Anyone can go see this mass given that you can figure out the cryptic way to obtain the free tickets. Ask the security people, no ask the Swiss Guard, send one representative through a gate, pick up blue tickets, walk a mile around St. Peters, go out of security, go back into security, through a corridor into a huge auditorium jam packed. The Pope comes onto the stage, hands in the air, and the crowd goes WILD! Like its Michael Jackson at the Thriller Tour. Crazy. This wasnt church, it was a full on rock concert. Somewhere in the service was hidden a small prayer and song, but the rest of the time was Shout Outs to different countries and different churches around the world. When their name is called they jumped out of their seats hootin and hollerin and waving colored flags. Sometimes singing, sometimes chanting as if this was highschool football game and they were the winning team. Mass now holds a whole new meaning to me.
This big sightseeing day continued with the climbing of 320 harrowing steps to the top of St. Peters Basilica to Isabel, Brians 5yr old, a disappointment the 2nd largest Basilica in the world. We were rewarded with a fantastic 360 view of Rome on a clear day.
Lauren & Hilary top of St. Peter’s Basilica
Then we hit the Vatican Museum, which was different from I remembered. You could spend days in the maze of the museum through halls of stone heads and put a crick in your neck with all the staring at the frescoed ceilings of Raphael. But the grand prize at the end of the maze is of course the Sistine Chapel. The stunning beauty and detail of the Michelangelo masterpiece is soaked in by contemplating the depth, time, storytelling, and years spent on this unbelievable creation.
Our dogs were barking loudly after this long day of sightseeing Lauren Style and clearly we need to do some serious sitting down. We picked a cute sounding wine bar from our guide-book even though around the Vatican can get quite touristy. We duck into the narrow door and down steps into a small cave-like basement wine bar. Exposed pig parts correlate to charcuterie plates with artisanal meats and cheeses. An extensive long wine list of Italian wines welcomes us. I love Italian wines and know a few of the grapes so I order us a Dolchetto for our first bottle. Its medium bodied with a nice spiciness to it. The servers bring us little snacks of vegetarian sandwiches. Exposed bricks and low candle lighting create an idyllic setting. Second bottle, a Multipuchiano, a heavier bodied wine with hints of black cherry is perfect for our mixed cheese and meat plate that just arrived.
This is the type of wine bar that Hilary and I love. Its what Uva Entoca on Haight Street in SF strives to be and why we went there all the time and loved it. But this place, is the classic true Italian wine bar. So we didnt get a lot of alone girl time together, but finding this place, having this experience, all together was even better.