Day 2-3: books and beauty

A quick shot from yesterday evening as I headed to the Vatican Museum to meet the group for the private visit.

One of the most important statues in the history of Western art.

And another one.

And then there’s this thing.

Afterward, off to something really important.  PIZZA.

Not too far from Vatican City there is a shop that makes unbelievably good stuff, entirely organic, etc.

Isn’t this a beautiful site?

Peppers and pine nuts.

Zucchini flowers and anchovy.


Cheese and potato.

Shifting gears… up early to go to St. Peters for Mass and time in the Basilica.  We were able to go in a back way through friends in the Swiss Guard.  Saved huge time!

This morning, a shot of the gloomy Scala Regia.  When we are elected to the See of Peter, once again His Holiness of Our Lord will descend carried on the sedia gestatoria, with flabella and the Noble Guard.

We had Mass in San Pietro this morning at one of the altars in the Basilica. The altars of the crypt were all reserved.  There are hoards of Germans here right now, as we draw close to the end of the Year of Mercy.  I ran into German bishops yesterday (alas, not hard enough).   This morning I spotted Card. Woelke with a group of pilgrims marching up the Via della Conciliazione.  They seems quite focused.

Since I am with an international pro-life group on this pilgrimage, today we were happy to have the Feast of the Maternity of Mary.  I commented that Mary conceived the Lord in her heart before carrying Him below her heart, and that their hearts synchronized and never stopped beating together except for a little while. We have to synchronize with theirs.

Meanwhile, I’ve been able to pick up a couple books I’ve been wanting to get my hands on. I can hardly wait to start in on Card. Sarah’s new book!

For lunch today we will head out into the Castello Romani, to a lovely place on the lip of the volcanic Lago Albano.  A great view and an amazing place with a vast wine cave.

More later.


What a day.

We went a restaurant in the Castelli which I first learned of through The Great Roman Fabrizio™, to whom so much is owed.  Situated on the edge of the volcanic crater of Lago Albano, this is an astonishingly good place.

Then we went to the Villa Borghese.  Then we had supper.  Yes, we ate again.

Some images, they my not be in the right order, because when I use my phone anything can happen with the order of images.

When I say, “Having a wonderful time, wish you were here!”… I mean it.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Phil_NL says:

    On pine nuts:

    I’ve read repeatedly that there are some Asian varieties (Korean/Chinese) that taste horrible, and that they would be identifiable by the shape (the bad ones would be shorter and fatter). Sadly, I’m not making much progress in distinguishing the varieties, as occasionally I have some that just taste horrible. On other occasions they’re fine. Interestingly enough, the pics suggest you had the ‘wrong type’.

    Any tips to find the good ones? Italian food needs them!

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    Best tray pizza I’ve ever eaten was from a little takeaway kiosk right next to the leaning tower in Pisa.

    Never had the tray variety in Rome, but if I’m ever there again I certainly will — those photos are quite convincing !! yummy !!!

    [This was at another level completely. By orders of magnitude. Often pizza sits on your stomach like an anvil. Not this. It’s made… well… the right way from the good stuff.]

  3. liebemama says:

    The pizza looks delicious! Here in Germany several states have their “Herbstferien” Fall vacation. North Rhine Westfalia for example.

  4. Persistant says:

    When I was in the Sistine chapel there was a pretty grim-looking guard yelling “no photo”, so I complied and didn’t take one. Fr. Z lives dangerously :)

    [I don’t, actually. This is was a private tour. No problem with photos. I have lots of photos. Also, some day I may tell the readership about the half hour or so I spent completely alone in the Sistina. And then there was the time I literally touched the ceiling.]

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    A lot of Vatican art is really nice and all that, but an awful lot of it is just copied from tourist postcards you can find anywhere. Like that really colorful one from the roof with all the people flying around, I saw that same picture in a book once. … No, wait … Never mind.

  6. pannw says:

    (alas, not hard enough.) Okay, that right there is LOL funny. And I did. Thanks, Father; I needed that.

    I love the pictures.

    And the pizza… Yummm… The picture of the variety reminds me of the best pizza I’ve ever had. It was in a tiny hole in the wall place in Padua. My husband and I came upon it as we were looking for a hotel room (we couldn’t afford to stay in Venice!). It smelled so good and as it was an off time of day, no crowd. We sat at the counter and got to watch the man make our pizza. We ordered prosciutto. I was concerned when he put it in the oven, sans prosciutto, thinking he didn’t understand us. He did slice some nice and see-through-thin and I thought he was just going to serve that along side the pizza, which was fine, too. Then, he pulled the hot pizza, cheese bubbling, from the oven and proceeded to stick mounds of the prosciutto onto the steaming top. The heat was not enough to crisp/dry out the meat, but softened it up, almost melting the fat so that it was like butter. Oh. My. Gosh… We also had the best penne arrabiata in the world at that little hole in the wall… I’m about to drool on my keyboard.

    A LOL, and stirring a happy memory to start the day. God bless you, Father Z.

  7. RWG says:

    Father, bless me for I have sinned. I experienced envy when I saw your gorgeous photos of Rome, and that pizza…well I guess gluttony is a sin too. Pray that I may overcome my morbid fear of flying that I might enjoy these things too!

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Thanks for the book recommends…beautiful photos all…Rome is a little bit of heaven

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    Great photos Fr. Z, thanks. Ok, I admit it, I had to look up “flabella”: an ornamental fan used to keep flies away from the Blessed Sacrament. The thought of Pope Z wielding a flabella (no doubt made of Kevlar) in one hand and a copy of Lewis & Short in the other is appealing- and it will drive the editorial staff at the Fishwrap bonkers.

    Dr. Peters: Nice.

  10. Andrew says:

    We were able to go in a back way … Saved huge time!

    I don’t understand. Can’t anyone just walk in to St. Peter’s? Last time I was there, in 1967, I had no trouble walking right in. Have things changed since then?

  11. Phil_NL says:


    Given the likelihood that St Peter’s is a prime target for islamist attacks, I hope a lot has changed. In 1998 (my last visit, alas) the checks at the entrance were primarily aimed at making sure everyone was appropriately dressed. One would hope the prime concern is now the absense of explosive devices – and I also hope they take their time with that! Anything else would be grossly negligent, to be frank.

  12. albinus1 says:

    When we are elected to the See of Peter, once again His Holiness of Our Lord will descend carried on the media gestatoria, with flabella and the Noble Guard.

    I realize that you meant “Sedia gestatoria,” but the image of reporters, TV announcers, and panelists on new shows having to carry the pope on their shoulders is a terrific one. ;-)

  13. Charivari Rob says:

    23 Euro?! For pizza!?

    I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place that sold pizzza by the kilo.

    [Two points. You get what you pay for. You’ve gone to the wrong places.]

  14. Vincent says:

    I was there in ’11, ’12, and ’13 (and if I can afford it ’17). They have airport style metal detectors, although I didn’t think they were particularly stringent. Alas, St Peter’s feels like a tourist destination for most of the day, and the staff treat you with some suspicion when trying to enter for Mass or the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to pray. However, if you go early in the morning, you get a glorious hour or so when it actually feels like a church. Now that’s special.

  15. Patrick says:

    Is that pizza from Pizarrium?

  16. seashoreknits says:

    Thanks for the great travelogue, Father.
    Your mini- meditation on the synchronicity of our Lord’s and the Mary’s hearts reminded me of this passage I copied out years ago from Fr. Faber’s “The Blessed Sacrament” (meditation on sharing their blood):

    “The Blood that is in the Chalice is from the living Heart of Jesus. It was shed in the Passion before it was shed in the Chalice. It had lived long in the Sacred Heart before He shed it; and He took it at the first, with His spotless Flesh, from the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and that it was sinless and stainless there was from the Immaculate Conception”.

    I always loved that.
    Enjoy your trip – prayers for you and your group!

  17. MarkJ says:

    Just ordered “La Force du Silence” from Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the reminder…

  18. JabbaPapa says:

    Father Z : [This was at another level completely. By orders of magnitude. Often pizza sits on your stomach like an anvil. Not this. It’s made… well… the right way from the good stuff.]

    I know exactly what you mean, and that tray pizza at Pisa was the same.

    I live a short walk from an excellent pizzeria, and all the good ones (Italian style or similar) make them with that lightness in question. But yeah, it’s unusual to find that quality in tray pizza.

    There’s one guy a longer walk or a bus ride away who does good Italian-style tray pizza, which is nice, and has some of that lightness, but not at the level of excellence we’re talking about here … :-)

    Anyway, thanks for these written descriptions to corroborate the impressions from the imagery.

  19. Lucas says:

    The anchovy and zucchini flower pizza sounds *amazing*

  20. Eliane says:

    As I look at the Vatican’s Christian art with its emphasis on the human form, I have to wonder uneasily what will happen to it as the Islamization of Europe progresses, seemingly with Vatican enthusiasm. Will the art eventually be suppressed as offensive to Islam? Or worse than suppressed? Are plans currently under way to protect it? I suppose those who know would not tell. But it is impossible not to worry.

  21. Cranky Old Man says:

    Two unrelated thoughts:

    (1) If I were to give a random sampling of important statuary from the Vatican Museum, I would include the Prima Porta Augustus, not necessarily for its artistic merit–I like it, but that is no recommendation: I like Fritos and Mad Magazine and high-top Keds and Wheel of Fortune–but because of what it tells us about the Roman attitude toward the plastic arts and the connection between art and civic consciousness.

    (2) The first time I ever contemplated in person the Sistine Chapel was on a summer day in the Holy Year of 1975, on a trip arranged by my frugal yet generous parents. [Iustorum animae in manu Dei sunt.] I sat on a bench along one of the walls. A middle-aged Englishman “on holiday” sat down next to me.

    BLOKE: “Do you speak English?”
    CRANKY OLD MAN: [Not thinking quickly enough] “Yes.”
    B: “So I have been in Rome for three days. All I do is pour money into the fare box of the buses [At that time the bus fare was 50 lire, or about $0.08, and my observation was that about 60% of the passengers bothered to pay it.] and eat spaghetti spaghetti spaghetti. And the coffee–what I wouldn’t give for a good cup of tea.”
    COM: “Have you tried something like cappuccino?”
    B: “It was served at breakfast this morning. I sent it back.”
    COM: “Well, at least you are in the Sistine Chapel now.”
    B: “Ha, the Sistine Chapel. World famous Sistine Chapel. Wouldn’t you think it would be bigger?”
    Further affiant sayeth not.

  22. mo7 says:

    You could put pignoli nuts on grass and it would taste good. The key to excellent Italian food is the superb ingredients, smart combinations and simplicity.

  23. Mojoron says:

    Pizza by the Kilo? Yipes!

  24. allenr74 says:

    Noticed the Robert Harris book. Which book should one pickup if they were just starting with Harris?

  25. oklip955 says:

    How can you just show us the photos of that wonderful pizza and not tell us the name of the place. Some of us might want to write it down for our next trip to Rome. When I visited in Jan. I think I hit all the gelloto shops near the Vatican. Must do pizza next time.

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