Felix Natalis Dies Roma!

Today is the 2771 Birthday of Rome. Happy birthday!

The Great Roman Fabrizio™ shared his quintessential, virtuous Roman repast: fave, pecorino, vino bianco.  It doesn’t get more Roman than that.

On the other hand, I arrived at Roma today to scoot southward down the Via Appia.  I am in Basilicata, or Lucania.

We have orange and jasmine and a little fountain.

Here is the famous portable altar made by St. Joseph’s Apprentice, along with elements of the famous silk travel vestments, which a few of you elite readers helped to purchase.

So, we had Mass…

… and supper, and now serious CRASH.

Tomorrow, I must write an article for the paper sometime between breakfast, Mass and going to Lecce.

For a fascinating read about the guy who figured out the date of the Birthday of Rome: HERE

And because I usually post a food photo today… here’s some goat!

Yes, the sauce is made from goat.

An afternoon drink!

Yes, that’s rosemary.   Lot’s of cracked ice, tonic, lime juice, lemon, basil leaves.

The pizza oven is ready.

Remember.  The pizza oven is NOT as hot as Hell.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, On the road, SESSIUNCULA, What Fr. Z is up to and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. rwj says:

    The funny thing in that every pizza put in that over simply ‘disappears’.

    [This mystery requires investigation.]

  2. Father:

    Was there anything else in the drink? I am planning to replicate it.

    [You can add either gin or, less ideally, vodka. I didn’t have any gin in it last night because of the jet lag and the need yet to say Mass and then have a big supper. I must say, it was awesome as it was.]

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    You’ll all *love* the food down in Puglia, Father …

  4. JustaSinner says:

    Something tells me you’re not stopping at any Mickey Ds this trip…

  5. NBW says:

    Father, it all looks wonderful! Especially that tonic!

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    Have a blessed trip Fr. Z. Looks like it’s off to an excellent start.

    As for rwj’s disappearing pizza mystery, Tracer Bullet, Ace Private Eye, was on the job in Calabria until Mussolini’s secret police, the OVRA, chased him away. After that he spent a little time in Rome at his favorite cafe, where the owner insists on calling him “Il Privato.” As for the owner himself, Antonio, some people say he’s a little off since returning from the Great War in 1918.


    Rome, early October, 1938. A crisp breeze, sharp blue sky, and thin, high clouds hinted at winter. Today, though, the sun was out, Pius XI gloriously reigned, and Romans who took their lunch seriously, and they all do, were crowding into Antonio’s Cafe.

    Tracer Bullet strolled across the cobblestoned Piazza Navona towards Antonio’s. In the center of the Piazza at Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers locals and tourists ate lunch and read books. One young man read a Fascist newspaper while eating an apple. Nearby an old man with wild, white hair sat at an easel carefully filling his canvas with reasonably pretty ladies and almost noble gentlemen. Several violinists in front of the Baroque St. Agnes Church were smoothly finding their way through Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Tracer silently said an Ave Maria as he passed St. Agnes before turning west toward the Tiber and Antonio’s Cafe.

    At a newspaper kiosk not far from the Chiesa Nuova of St. Philip Neri Tracer purchased a map of ancient Rome and tucked it into his Baedeker’s guidebook. After tipping his hat to two mothers pushing baby strollers, he crossed the Via del Pellegrino to Antonio’s.

    Entering the cafe, he paused. Every table was filled, the bar was elbow room only, and the boisterous patrons appeared to be on their fourth espresso. The aroma of garlic, tomatoes, and fresh bread jolted Tracer. The brick walls were covered with faded posters of Puccini operas, a signed photo of Joe DiMaggio, new posters of Fiat automobiles, and a painting of a bear plodding along a mountain trail carrying a large pack. Antonio had no patience for the new Modernist art.

    “Hey! Il Privato!” Behind the bar a stout fellow of about fifty wearing an almost clean apron and sporting a mustache a Turk would envy waved a knife at him. A few heads looked up from their plates, examined Tracer, then returned their attention to their Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

    Tracer made his way to the bar, brushing against a man holding a satchel in one hand and a cannoli in the other.

    “Paolo, you lout!” barked Antonio. “Stand clear. Il Privato is busy and must eat. He has a book of the Roman Empire. A map of the Roman Empire. Clearly, Il Privato is a spy for Hannibal.”

    Tracer grinned, it was good to be back. He looked at Antonio gravely. “It’s not easy to hide a herd of war elephants these days.”

    “An elephant?” Antonio thoughtfully scratched his chin. “Yes, yes, I think I could cook an elephant.”

    Tracer chuckled. He looked around the cafe. “Antonio, life is treating you well.”

    “Of course! One thousand more lunches like this and the Fiat 500,” he rapped a beefy hand against an auto poster, “she is mine!”

    “The secret to his bank account,” chirped a boy behind Antonio lugging a stack of dirty dishes, “is that all the meat is horse.”

    Antonio extended a huge hand, picked up a plate with remnants of salad, and emptied the contents on the boy’s head. Antonio’s son giggled and waddled with the stack of dishes into the kitchen trailing lettuce.

    Antonio set the plate on the bar and leaned over to Tracer with mock exasperation. “Bambinos, Privato.” Antonio shrugged. “We are not allowed to shoot them anymore. Now, what do you like? I feed you.”

    The man at Tracer’s elbow set down his espresso, turned to Tracer, and said “Run.”

    A smile flickered across Antonio’s face, then he said sternly, “Giuseppe, when your cannoli arrives inspect it carefully.”

    Giuseppe raised his cup to Antonio in salute and said, “I always do.”

    “Magnificent.” Antonio turned to Tracer. “Now Il Privato, your lunch.”

    “Wrap up two slices with everything please.”

    Antonio hefted a pizza cutter and set to work. “Where to next Privato?”

    Tracer patted the ticket in his pocket. “London in two days, visit friends.”

    “Ah, then you must also have a cannoli before you go.”

    Tracer pulled out his wallet. Ignoring the bills he handed Antonio some coins. “A little extra for gelato, for Giovanni.”

    Antonio dropped the coins into a coffee cup on a shelf underneath the bar. He thrust three wax paper packets into a bag and handed Tracer his lunch. “Do not worry about the bambino Il Privato. I have discovered the boy bleeds gelato.”

    Tracer laughed, said goodbye, and made his way to the door. Antonio moved to the chopping block facing the window. He picked up a knife and began dicing a bowl of tomatoes. As Tracer walked toward the Piazza Navona Antonio noticed two men in dark suits and hats lingering near the newspaper kiosk. Tracer passed the kiosk. The two men exchanged glances then slowly followed Tracer.

    Antonio diced tomatoes for several minutes. He set down the knife, wiped his hands on a towel, caught the eye of his brother-in-law working the far end of the bar, and went into the kitchen. He phoned his onion supplier and ordered two dozen red onions for the evening’s menu. Any yellow onions for Antonio today? No, no yellow onions this time. Red onions only. The supplier replied that they would get those red onions immediately. Antonio thanked him, hung up the phone, and smiled at his wife and son before leaving the kitchen.

    Antonio returned to his chopping board, picked up a knife, and minced a small dish of garlic cloves. Antonio did not like Modern art. He did not like Mussolini. He did not like OVRA. He silently prayed a Pater Noster for Il Privato as he worked. Antonio liked the American’s optimism, and he knew Il Privato had a few tricks up his sleeve, but he also knew Il Privato was not invincible.

    So, the American would be invited to take a walk this evening to see the sights, the sights tourists rarely get to see. The ancient ruins at night are not to be missed. No, no need to check out of one’s hotel room. Yes, tell the hotel clerk that you require an airport taxi two mornings from now. The clerks are very correct and will inform the proper authorities. Sure, bring a coat to ward off the night’s chill, but of course you won’t need your luggage. This walk in the moonlight is an experience not to be missed. The opportunity of a lifetime really.

    [As always!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  7. jaykay says:

    “Tracer patted the ticket in his pocket. “London in two days, visit friends.”

    Ahh, I was thinking: yes, classic pre-War overnight train to Paris, a mighty SNCF 4-6-4, perhaps, then the Golden Arrow: Paris-Calais-Dover-London. Sounds of Charles Trenet in the background, the reek of Gauloises, femmes fatales in pencil-skirts, with pencilled eyebrows and long cigarette-holders (some of the men also… well, maybe not with the pencil-skirts but…hey).

    But… he’s going to fly? Was that possible?

    I await agog for the next gripping instalment… !!

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks Fr. Z.

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    jaykay: “But… he’s going to fly? Was that possible?”

    You are right to be skeptical about Tracer’s flight out of Rome two days later. In fact, the OVRA would have arrested Tracer at the airport- after following him for awhile to try to figure out what he was up to. So a few hours after leaving Antonio’s Cafe Tracer took a little walk into the night with several mysterious but polite visitors who approached him, quietly explained the situation, and offered their assistance.

    A few days later Tracer reappeared in London. He was warmly greeted at MI-6, everyone is always warmly greeted at MI-6 upon return from the Continent. Then asked after several days, “How about another go at it?” Tracer will return to the Continent. But that’s for another installment.

    Nice vignette you wrote about French SNCF trains and Charles Trenet. Which reminds me that sometimes one can find in train stations and airports across Europe and elsewhere a piano set out for anyone to play.

    Here’s a young man playing, I think, Edith Piaf’s La Foule at a train station in Paris:


    This one, I think also in Paris, begins with one man playing an improvisation. Eventually he is joined by a second man, for two players on one piano, and things get interesting:


  10. jaykay says:

    SG: oh no, not being sceptical really – to Tracer, many (if not all, that being proper to the Deity) things are possible! I just wondered whether one could in fact fly Rome-London back then? London-Paris was common, even Dublin-London, but Rome? So I Googled it (what else?) and – found that yes, one could indeed do so, via Imperial Airways


    “sometimes one can find in train stations and airports across Europe and elsewhere a piano set out for anyone to play”.

    Indeed. Our own venerable (1834) Pearse (former Westland Row) Station in Dublin installed one last year. It’s very popular, and I’ve heard some really talented people play it. The proximity of the Royal Irish Academy of Music helps, no doubt!


  11. Hans says:


    You can get ice in Rome?!?

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    jaykay: Thanks for the article on musical happenings in Dublin. Got to get back there sometime. We took the ferry from Holyhead across to Dublin, and an hour or so after docking were at Trinity College and the Book of Kells. The old monastery at Glendalough was impressive.

    This reminds me of several lines from Ronald Reagan’s 1984 speech to the Irish Parliament:

    “Now, I know some of us Irish Americans tend to get carried away with our ancestral past and want very much to impress our relatives here with how well we’ve done in the New World…One Irishman told me he thought I would fit in. ‘Mr. President,’ he said, ‘you love a good story, you love horses, you love politics — the accent we can work on.'”

    Since our excellent host is in Italy, here’s a 90-second video (Italian w/English subtitles) from Milan with the story of how St. Ambrose delivered some sweet chin music to the Devil. The “Devil’s Pillar” (a pillar with two holes said to be made by the devil’s horns when St. Ambrose slammed him into a pillar) is just outside the St. Ambrose Church in Milan.


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