In late April 2016, I returned to Rome for an IBM customer and partner event. Before the event began on Sunday and on the last day, I was fortunate to see some of the sights in the historic city.
Our event was south of the city, closer to the airport than downtown but was in a scenic countryside. This is the panoramic view from my room.
On Sunday, we ventured into the city to catch some of Rome’s historic sights. The bus dropped us off near the Castel Sant’Angelo, on the Tiber river just a block or two away from St. Peters Square. The Castle gets its name from the Archangel Michael, who is believed to end the plague of 590. You can see a statue of Michael on the top of the castle today.
We walked due north to Via della Conciliazione, the street the leads to St. Peters Square.Immediately, we noticed what appeared to be more than the average number of police. Something had to be happening at St. Peters.
The street leading up to the square was packed with people, more than the last time I was here. As we neared the square we could hear something on a PA system. John noticed there were big video screens. “Is it the Pope?” I asked. Sure enough, the Pope was conducting a public mass. What a treat!
After about 45 minutes, we decided to take advantage of the fact that so many visitors were in St. Peters with the Pope. We ventured around to the rear entrance of Vatican City to see if we could get in without too much of a wait. Luckily, John was right. The line to the rear entrance was only 30 minutes and when we made it to the front of the line, the fees were waived as tradition on the last Sunday of the month. Bonus!
So, we not only “dumbed” our way into a public mass with the Pope but we also got into Vatican City free without a long line.
Compared to the last time I was in Vatican city, the crowds were quite small. We were able to quickly make our way around the museum and sites inside with relative freedom. Our only disappointment of the morning was that St. Peters Basilica was closed for the day.
After our tour of the city, we grabbed a cab near the Colosseum. I tried to convince John to go up to the top of the Altar of the Fatherland where Deb and I enjoyed the panoramic view of Rome but it was a no go. Instead, we walked up to Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven, the church next door. The view from the steps leading to the church was almost as good but the scene inside the church was a new experience. From there, we walked over to the Roman ruins and finally the Colosseum.
One Tuesday, John and I decided to have an authentic Italian dinner. We didn’t want to have dinner at a tourist place. We asked the concierge to find a place locals go to. He booked reservations at La Locanda Ristorante, a 15 minute cab ride from our hotel. I captured the video below as we departed the restaurant.
On our last day of the customer/partner event, Jim, John and I were tasked with some last minute work that forced us to miss the planned offsite event. It was almost 7:45 before we were done with our work. John and I decided to grab a cab into the city for dinner. We “dumbed” our way into a place 400 feet from the Pantheon called “Fortunato Al Pantheon”.
After dinner, we caught some night pics of Pantheon then walked over to the Piazza Navona where we had dessert and finally called it a night and an end to our trip.