Friday, 11 December 2015

Ave Maria

The reason we chose to come to Rome at this time and to stay in this particular apartment was to witness the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, held on 8th December every year. This year is extra special as this date also marks the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee year declared by Pope Francis.
Today promises to be a special day and it starts very early with the firemen garlanding the statue of Mary with a wreath of white roses and other bouquets.


 Processions and flowers will continue to arrive at the statue throughout the day.


We decide to have a stroll through Villa Borghese before getting the metro to Cavour. The late autumn colours are beautiful on this misty morning.

Once we reach Cavour metro stop it is a short walk to Mercato Monti which is full of independent retailers selling unique hand crafted items. Two of the stalls stand out for us. First, Creative LizArt  where artworks have been created using the work of photographer Ivan Ingletto. As we chat to the stall holder we discover that Ivan studied at the university of Newcastle upon Tyne which is the nearest city to where we live - small world!
Of course our second favourite stall, as proud 'Nonni' was Tra Le Nuvole - we couldn't resist this kit for our little princess

We decided we couldn't leave Monti without visiting our favourite barista, Marco, at Er Baretto
This was timely as the Pope was opening the Holy door at St Peter's Basilica and we were able to see it all on TV


As we made our way back to the apartment we realised that it was going to take some considerable time as security was extremely tight. We eventually made it and took up our prime position to see the Pope arrive to venerate the statue of Mary in the piazza below.

After the short service Pope Francis immediately went to the crowds who were lining the streets and gave blessings. He really is a 'People's Pope'. It was a very moving and humbling experience.

Our evening passeggiata took us to the Colosseum.........
.........then on to Piazza Venezia
From here to Piazza Pietra where we had cocktails at the gorgeous Enoteca Spiriti

A little later we saw a Swedish choir from Stockholm celebrate Santa Lucia against the magnificent backdrop of Hadrian's Temple in Piazza Pietra. A wonderful end to our pre-Christmas Grand Tour.

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