Roma, Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow.

As promised, here is my final post from the Eternal City. Today was, by all accounts, a fantastic day. This morning was a low key affair due to my alarm not going off, but the afternoon was wonderful. We spent our last meal with Dan at a restaurant right near our apartment. We sat outside to enjoy the fine weather and sunshine and enjoyed some excellent pasta. We were all in a very silly mood for whatever reason (no there wasn’t any wine involved) so there was much laughter, a fitting end to our time with Dan, I will really miss him. Holy Cross isn’t the same without him, so it was really great to get to spend time with him. We also got to spend our last bit of time with Caroline, who is here studying abroad.

I had been setting my hopes on getting out to Santa Trinita dei Pelligrini, the FSSP church here in Rome. The FSSP is a Roman Catholic priestly fraternity that exclusively celebrates the older form of Roman Catholic services. Unlike the SSPX, they are in full communion in Rome and thus enjoy greater liberties, including being given a very fine church by Pope Benedict last year to base their mission out of here in Rome. As you can imagine, being the organist and seminarian assigned to a Western Rite Orthodox parish leaves me with an affinity for them, since both of us celebrate the more ancient forms of one of the Western liturgies. St. Stephen’s is a “Gregorian Rite” parish, and that is precisely what Sancta Trinita is as well, only they’re in communion with Rome, while we are not.

Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini

Anyway, I thought that Vespers was at 5 p.m. so I left the restaurant a bit early to try and catch a bus. Unfortunately, because it is Sunday the buses have a less frequent schedule so I was stuck waiting for the bus for a half hour. I almost gave up hope around 4:45 to start walking back to the apartment, but it was then that the bus I needed turned around the corner and headed towards the stop. I figured I’d be about 10 minutes late, which is all right. When I got there, however, there was hardly anyone there and no service going on. I approached a priest who was folding Vespers handouts at the front and discovered that the service wasn’t till 5:30, so I was early! Father William (who was an Englishman) and I started talking, I explained I was visiting Rome for the last 10 days and I had been really looking forward to coming every since we started planning the trip back in January. He said he was glad I had decided to visit but that I probably wouldn’t have quite so amazing a musical experience as their organist wasn’t going to be there that day…

My view from the continuo organ

God is good. So, as you might imagine, I told him I was an organist by profession and familiar with Gregorian chant and he asked me to accompany the service. I acquiesced. So there I was, with about 15 minutes to prepare to accompany chants I’d never seen before, sitting on a stool in front of a continuo organ, together with Father William and off we went. It was, let me tell you, a truly wonderful experience. Vespers went smoothly, the organist actually showed up about 3/4 through the service and I gave him the stool and he finished out Vespers from the hymn onward. Then I joined Fr. William and one of the servers (another American whose name I didn’t catch unfortunately) in the schola cantorum for the responsory which included the Trisagion Hymn (in Latin, of course) and the Magnificat, closing hymn, and various prayers and responses.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Vespers

The acoustics in the church were spectacular, probably a 7 second reverberation time and is perfectly suited for Gregorian chant. Fr. William, the other server, and I meshed very well and resulted in nuanced and beautiful chant (for the most part unaccompanied).

After Vespers, Fr. William invited me back to the sacristy to meet the parish priest, Fr. Joseph who turned out to be Australian and was friendly with the Greek Orthodox back in Melbourne. When I first mentioned I was an Orthodox seminarian he asked if I was Melkite or “real Orthodox”, I told him I was “real Orthodox.” He was quite pleased. We chatted for a while about a number of things as Fr. William got ready to serve the evening Low Mass. Both of them said I was very welcome to come back whenever I wished, and that they were disappointed I wasn’t staying longer since they can always use good voices and a spare organist. I thanked them both for their kindness and hospitality, got a photo, and headed out into the church.

The “schola” from Vespers in the sacristy. Fr. William is vested for the daily evening Mass.

I stayed for a bit of Mass, sitting in the very back and enjoying the “noble simplicity” of the ancient Roman Rite. Before I left I stopped at one of the side altars with a myriad of candles burning in front of an icon of the Mother of God and prayed for unity between our two Churches, thinking of our Lord’s words, “That they might be one.” It was a very fitting end to my time in Rome.

I thank God for my trip, for the experiences I had, for the people I met and the people I traveled with. I thank Him for my parents, as well as my benefactors who made this trip possible. While I am looking forward to going home, I look forward to my return to this holy city. I made a conscious decision a few days ago not to go to certain places, hoping that God will bring me back to see them some day soon. That is why you will notice there are no pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. I didn’t go. Nor did I go to the Sancta Scala, or San Clemente, or Santa Sebina, nor the church of St. Cecilia (where she is buried), the patroness of organists and musicians. But, perhaps these will push me to come back.

It’s almost like I don’t want to ruin my time here by going everywhere I wanted to.   It is like I don’t want my visit to end, and it’s true, I don’t want it to end, or be over.  The city of Rome has stolen my heart.

Glory be to God for all things.  See you Stateside.

Omnes sancti, ora pro nobis!

All Roads Lead to Rome

I first must apologize for not blogging over the last few days. I find that by the end of the day I’m so worn out I can’t really dedicate that much time to writing, but no worries, here is another post at last.

The last few days have been more low key than previously, probably because everything is finally catching up to us. It also might be because we’re dreading our upcoming 18 hour travel time back to the U.S. on Monday morning. Our flight from Rome to Zurich leaves around 6 a.m., then a 9 hour layover in Zurich before our 8 hour flight back to Boston. The other thing was that originally we had to check out of the apartment at 10 a.m. on Sunday but, thanks be to God, the guy we’re renting the apartment from is letting us stay till midnight on Sunday before heading to the airport via a car service. So that won’t be too bad.

I think I blogged about Thursday, so I’ll move on to Friday. Friday was a good day. It was the feast of the Annunciation, so it felt a bit more festive than usual, although that could have just been me). In the afternoon I went to do a little shopping with Mike and Vinny, since Andrew had gone to Assisi for the day. This wasn’t your normal shopping experience, either. We started at a smaller ecclesiastical shop that had gorgeous vestments in the windows (and antique chalices, monstrances, ciboria, etc.).

I’ve been meaning to buy a surplice, since I didn’t actually own one but only borrowed them from others. The one I picked was “economy line” which looked decent. Upon further inspection it wasn’t very high quality and looked like it would fall apart after a few uses, so I bit the bullet and upgraded slightly when I went back this morning. I also managed to get an absolute deal on another item I had been thinking about. A capello romano or “saturno” so named because it resembles the planet saturn with its rings. Yes, I got a hat. And it’s a nice hat, made of felt. I did not bite for the fiocchi (tassels), but I might get them at a later time.

Next stop was St. Peter’s Square to get our bearing, and then on the Euro Clero, an establishment recommended to me by a priest acquaintance from England. He said that they have some of the most reasonable prices on just about everything and they have some pretty cool stuff. I wasn’t disappointed. I stopped in and picked up something for a certain illustrious Vicar-General and a certain holy priest in Springfield. Once they’re given, I’ll be sure to let you know what the items were.

I really wanted to go to Gamarelli’s and get some of their famous socks but, alas, that was apparently not to be. I meant to go this morning but it never ended up happening and I’m pretty sure they closed in the early afternoon. So I’ll just have to wait until my next visit to Rome to go and visit them. Who knows, perhaps I’ll be in the market for an expensive and posh cassock together with a watered silk fascia with pom-poms…

Saturday was another pretty laid back day. I went back to the store I bought my surplice from to exchange it for a better one, they were very accommodating and gave me a significant discount because, let’s be honest, the first one probably shouldn’t have been on the shelves. I only wish I had a few thousand euro to blow in that store. They had cases upon cases of antique ecclesiastical goods, and anyone who knows a seminarian knows how magpie-like we are when it comes to shiny church goods. The vestments in their cases were also really stunning and it was good to see a strong revival, in most of the shops I went to, of the traditional Roman form of chasuble (complete with maniple). Anyway, enough about vestments.

A Roman style chasuble from the Vatican Museums

I got back and we spent the early afternoon lounging around. The front room of the apartment faces the street and gets a lot of sun so it’s a great place to relax. There’s also a very fine, large tapestry on one wall and a balcony (one of two on the entire building) that is great to stand on for the views. We were kicking around ideas on what to do when I figured I would go back to St. Paul outside the Walls for Vespers. This church is truly one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite. It’s a close contender with St. John Lateran, but I think St. Paul’s wins out. It’s quieter, further away from things, and in the middle of a big park. St. John Lateran took my breathe away, quite literally, I had to sit down in a side chapel for a bit. But St. Paul’s has a noble simplicity that leaves you quiet and calm, not to mention there are no chairs or pews in the nave so it feels even bigger a space than St. John’s with all its ugly modern chairs all the way down the church.

I got there a few minutes before the service started and walked up and down the church once. As I got back to the front a burly and ill-tempered guard of some type tried to shove me out of the church with the rest of the tourists who were gawking at the funny men in black robes processing into the church while snapping pictures. He eventually realized I was there for the service and let me by. Annoyingly enough this little detour meant I didn’t get the relevant service book, but I was able to use a weekday book for some of the non-variable parts of the service. I think my favorite part (beside chanting the antiphons in Latin with the Benedictine monks) was when everyone joined in singing the Our Father in Latin. The organist (a younger monk) accompanied the chant with the large freestanding organ, the only time he didn’t play along was for the Our Father. Everyone there sang it, and it seemed, knew it by heart. The huge space made the waves of sound echo on and on. So, as you can probably guess, that was my favorite part of that visit.

We went for dinner at our favorite restaurant, which is very conveniently found next to our favorite gelato place. We wined and dined for a while and made a grand end to our stay in Rome. While we’re hear for another day, tomorrow will be busy with packing and getting ready to head back to the States so tonight was a night to be together and enjoy each others company. I really can’t tell you how glad I am I came here with the people I did, it’s really made the trip worthwhile.

Who knows what the rest of the day will bring, but I’ll be sure to post before we start our epic journey back to Boston on Monday. Prayers are welcome, as always.

Rome is Where the Heart is

As promised earlier, I am back at our little cafe on the corner to check in and post about my last adventure.  It’s been an exciting two days, so exciting that I needed a day off today.  Well, part of the day off anyway.

Yesterday was by far one of the best days here (crazy how each day seems to be getting better and better).  In the morning we went and visited Uncle Ben at the papal audience, which was really quite impressive.  We got there about two hours early, and we definitely profited from doing so as there were tens of thousands of people there by the time the papal audience actually started around 10:30.  We were about 10-15 rows back from the front, and Pope Benedict was up on a stage-like thing they usually hold their outdoor masses on.  He entered from the side in the popemobile and drove through the aisles of the square while cheesy organ music played on an electronic “toaster”.  It sounded like 8-bit videogame music (although I don’t think any videogame ever had a fantasia and fugue), and with him driving around in aisles it felt a bit like Pac-man.

The audience was about an hour and a half long and by the end we were all a bit sunburned, especially one of our group.  It included the daily Gospel reading in about 7 languages, a homily (in Italian, unfortunately), and then acknowledging those groups of pilgrims there (including a Lutheran church from the US!) and the pope would read a greeting to those speakers in their language.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran

After the papal audience we took the metro across the city to the Basilica of St. John Lateran.  This, along with St. Paul outside the Walls, is my favorite church I’ve visited in Rome.  At one point I actually had to sit down in a side chapel because of how awestruck I felt.  This was truly a house of God.  The relics of Sts. Peter and Paul are housed in a huge marble ciborium magnum over the high altar, their huge gilt figures stare down at you, St. Peter with his keys and St. Paul with his sword.

I spent about an hour and a half here, I couldn’t get enough, and if I am ever so blessed to come back, I will spend even more time here in the holy space.  I would have lit some candles here, but they only had these very tacky electric candles, so I instead made my offering via the conveniently located “OFFERING” boxes.  Because words are failing me to describe the place, allow me to post a few of the best pictures from this church.

So there’s a small offering of the photos I took, there are more on Facebook for you to peruse.  Afterward I wanted to go to the Sancta Scala and the Sanctum Sanctorum as they are across the street but the church was closed.  The Sancta Scala are the steps from Pontius Pilate’s Praetorium that Christ walked up to be judged and condemned to death, brought to Rome by St. Helen the mother of St. Constantine the Great.  I will try and get there before I leave.

I took the metro to Santa Maria Maggiore and was once again blown away.  This visit brought me to the fourth patriarchal basilica of the Bishop of Rome, and the home of two very important Christian relics, that of the icon of the Mother of God “Salus Populi Romani” and a piece of the crib from Bethlehem that Our Lord was placed in.

The Icon of the Mother of God “Salus Populi Romani”, famously reputed to have been painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist using the very wooden table of the Holy Family in Nazareth.

The chapel containing a piece of the crib of our Lord from Bethlehem

I also arranged for a Requiem Mass be said here for someone I recently learned had passed away, it is always a sad thing to do, yet joyous knowing that pray is being offered up for someone.

Santa Maria Maggiore was an exceptional church, but I had to make my way to the Pontifical Gregorian University for a tour by a priest who we meet through a mutual friend.  The views from the roof are second only to those of the Presidential palace, which is right behind the university on the Quirinal Hill (one of the 7 hills of Rome).  It was dusk so I wasn’t able to get any good pictures of the view, though.

Afterward myself, Vinny, Mike, and Dan went out to dinner at an excellent restaurant right next to our favorite gelato place.  Truly delicious food at a delicious price.

The dome of the Gesù

Today, as I said, I slept in as I was exhausted after yesterday.  The rest of the group went off in the morning for a full day of sight-seeing, but I went and walked around a bit, hung out in St. Peter’s Square, and enjoyed watching traffic go by from our usual cafe.  Later on I went to the Gesu, the “mother ship” of the Jesuit Order and enjoyed the flamboyant baroque art of that church.

And that brings me to right now, sitting at the corner in our favorite cafe.  Tomorrow will bring liturgy for the feast of the Annunciation at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, and then an afternoon with a bit of shopping (Gamarelli here I come) and a visit to a few more churches, I think.  Prayers are welcome.  Salve!

Chapel of the Madonna della Strada, a much venerated 15th century image of the Mother of God.

Rome, Rome on the Range

just wanted to post a quick note to say I’ll be making the full post later today. Yesterday was busy so I didn’t have a chance to post. Suffice it to say that I hit up some major churches and finished the day with a fantastic meal with friends. More to come. Ciao!

Rome Again, Rome Again, Jiggity Jig.

Yesterday the internet connection at our usual cafe wasn’t working, hence the silence, but today it is back up so I’ll be able to post!  Huzzah.

Yesterday was a bit of a down day as we were pretty tired after the first 3 days, so we slept in and decided to split up and go do our own thing.  I needed to make a trip to the bank so Vinny and I walked down there and then split up.  I wet back to the basilica of St. Ambrose as it’s a nice place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I lit some candles, said my prayers, and explored a bit more.  There was a side altar I hadn’t noticed before, that of St. Olav, King of Norway!  So I went and spent a little time there as I have I fondness for St. Olav.

The chapel of St. Olav, King of Norway

After that I walked up to the park above the piazza del populo, the Villa Borghese, which had breathtaking views of the city.  I had my lunch (a panino named after “Angelina Jolie” and a fanta) and enjoyed the view.  They also had a cool water clock that was built and installed in 1840-something.  Later on I walked back to the apartment and sat around outside waiting for our fourth member to join us, Michael, who was flying out from Holy Cross yesterday.

In the evening we all went out to the basilica of St. Lawrence outside the Walls in which not only St. Lawrence is buried, but St. Stephen the First Martyr and St. Justin Martyr.  It was an obviously ancient church, and we were there about an hour before it closed so we were the only people there beside those in a small side chapel who were preparing to attend the daily evening Mass there.

Basilica of St. Lawrence

It was pretty dark so I wasn’t able to get too many really great photos, however once I fiddle with them in iPhoto and made them black & white they turned out great.  I know I’ve been saying it a lot, but it was an amazing experience to venerate the relics of St. Lawrence, St. Stephen the First Martyr, and St. Justin Martyr.  The crypt underneath the high altar is surrounded by an iron grill (reminiscent of the grate St. Lawrence was roasted on) and it was only after close inspection that I realized there was a small (just big enough to get your head through) iron window that opened up, so I opened it as it wasn’t locked and was able to venerate their relics.  It was also then that I was able to commemorate everyone at the parish of St. Stephen, for which I am their seminarian and organist.  It was a truly humbling and wonderful experience.

The tomb of St. Laurence, St. Stephen, and St. Justin Martyr

Also in this basilica is the tomb of Pope Pius IX, a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, and let me tell you, his tomb was exceedingly impressive.  It was a little disappointing, in that I was hoping St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, and St. Justin might get a little more impressive a tomb since they’re major saints of the Christian Church as a whole, but there you go.

We left just as the Kyrie was starting at the Mass in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of the basilica, I would have liked to have stayed but we were on a schedule.  We squeezed into the 3 bus (I have never been packed so closely with complete strangers) and went to Santa Croce, they were having Mass so we stuck in the back, I lit a few candles at one of the side altars, and then we headed to San Giovanni in Laterano but it closed before we got there.

Dinner was had at Rosso Pomodoro, a restaurant recommended by Dan and it was exceedingly good.  Best food I’ve had in Rome so far, and it’s been all really quite good.  After that we went to our favorite gelato place (I had Nutella, Mars Bar, and Frutti de Bosco on Sunday night, and then raspberry, strawberry, and tiramisu last night) and took a walk back to the apartment.

Today was insane!  We got up early and headed over to the Vatican Museum.  Let me tell you, it is an unbelievable feeling going and seeing pieces of art that I’ve only seen in books and heard about.  I watched that great movie The Agony and the Extasy with Rex Harrison (Pope Julius II) and Charlton Heston (Michaelangelo) about a month ago and it was so great seeing the actual chapel.

We walked through the entire collection three times, in a somewhat misguided attempt to enter St. Peter’s through the museum, which is apparently only allowed for groups.  So we ended up exiting and grabbing lunch after which we headed back to the apartment.

The Triumph of Christianity

The Baptism of St. Constantine

So there are many more photos I have posted to my Facebook account, so make sure to check them out!  As for the rest of the day we rested and went to a cafe for drinks and a spot of dinner.  Should be an exciting day tomorrow, we’re going to the weekly papal audience with Uncle Ben (Pope Benedict XVI) and we’re hoping for some good seats.  Afterward we’re going to be going to St. John Lateran Basilica, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Lucia in Trastavere, and a myriad of other churches.  As always, your prayers are very much appreciated.  God bless!  Salve!

O Lord and Master of my life!

Rome, Sweet Rome

Solemn Vespers at St. Paul fuori le Mura

So I’m sitting outside a little cafe near our apartment on Cola di Rienzo which, blessedly, has free wi-fi.  It’s crazy how much we’ve been able to pack into just 3 days being here in Rome, especially with 7 more days to go.  When we arrived we were a little worried as there were not any obvious public telephones, we didn’t now where to go to get international calling cards, and finding our way around was a daunting task.  Luckily, our good friend Dan is here in Rome studying at one of the Pontifical universities and came over to start taking us around.

On Friday night Dan took us for a moonlit walk around the Vatican and the outlying area.  We walked on past Castel San Angelo and on to St. Peter’s.  I can’t really relay how humbling an experience walking into the piazza is.  Everything is so magnificent, and awe-inspiring.  The huge statues of Sts. Peter & Paul, the obelisk, and St. Peter’s itself.  Simply stunning.

Yesterday the guys and I set out to find the grocery store, walked the wrong way on our street two blocks and found ourselves at the edge of the Tiber River.  I couldn’t help but make a crack about Pope Formosus and asked if we could hold a Cadaver Synod.  Nobody found it funny but me.  Oh well…

The Piazza del Populo near our apartment


We crossed the river, abandoning our search for the grocery store till later, and walked into the Piazza del Populo and were greeted by a Michael Jackson impersonator.  I should also mention that we cannot escape America, and by extension HC/HC (more on this later).  We walked from quite a while and went into the Basilica of St. Ambrose and St. Charles.

The dome of the Basilica of St. Ambrose

We continued walking toward the Pantheon as Dan lives near there and enjoyed some time at the church.  Just looking at it you know how ancient it really is, thousands of years old, yet still breathtaking.  I was amused to see that the old Latin Altar Cards were still on the altar, and the miracle-working icon of the Theotokos above the altar was radiant with light and silver and gold.

In the evening one of my friends and I went with Dan for gelato and to walk to the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, with the Arch of Constantine.  It’s funny how you’ll see pictures of something all your life and suddenly find yourself there.  It’s a very odd feeling one gets.  And to walk on the same road that St. Constantine himself once walked on leaves you feeling like this isn’t really happening, you’re not really in Rome.  But you are, and it is wonderful.

St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church on the Via Sardoni

This morning we went to liturgy at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church on the Via Sardoni.  Getting there was a bit of a trek because the buses weren’t running in much of the city due to the Rome Marathon, but we got there in time for the Orthros Gospel.  It was a really lovely parish, the chanter invited one of us to chant the Epistle.  It really felt like home when a monk came in and chanted in Arabic for a few things during the service.  Turns out he is Fr. Parthenios, an Antiochian, like myself.  The small church was full by the Our Father and the priest welcomed us warmly.  Afterward we went to lunch at a small restaurant near the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the Piazza di Trevi.

This afternoon was the highlight of the trip for me so far.  We went to St. Paul fuori le Mura.  Let me just say that I took about 100 pictures of the place, so that might give you an indication as to how I liked the church.  I’ve never been in a church like it before.  Sure, I’ve been in big (and ancient) cathedrals, but nothing like this.  The portraits of the popes lined the upper arches, and the tomb of St. Paul himself is the central focus of the church.  I was able to go and venerate the chains that St. Paul wore while in prison, and pray at his tomb.  I lit a candle for everyone back home and prayed there.

I realized that because it is Sunday they would be having Solemn Vespers at St. Paul’s so I elected to stay while the others went and got coffee.  There is nothing like hearing a choir of monks chanting Vespers in Latin (and Italian).  The organ was lovely, and the organist (a monk of the monastery there) provided a really fine accompaniment to the Gregorian chant.  I also managed to visit the chapel of St. Stephen there, and said a prayer for my little parish assignment back in Springfield MA.


St. Paul Outside the Walls

And now I’m sitting at a cafe with Vikentios enjoying the evening.  We’ll be heading back to the apartment in a minute and making ourselves dinner.  Tomorrow, our 4th member joins us, Michael, and we’ll be starting to plan the rest of our stay.  A few things are definitely planned already.  On Wednesday we’ll be going to the Papal Audience with “Uncle Ben” (Pope Benedict XVI) and on Friday we’ll be going to Divine Liturgy at St. Andrew’s again for the feast of the Annunciation.  Some of our little group might be going to Assisi on Friday, and the rest of us might take a day trip to Florence.  We shall see what we shall see.

As always, keep us in your prayers (as you are in ours) and I will update the blog tomorrow at some time (God-dilling).  For now, I’ll leave you with the last picture of the day.

St. Paul fuori le Mura

Off to Rome!

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things.  Of saints and popes, of lunatics, of pasta sauce and kings.”  Well, actually, it’s time to resurrect my blog to chronicle the adventures of myself and three friends as we travel to the Eternal City!  God-willing we will be there for 11 days over spring break, enjoying the sites and sounds of that great city and making pilgrimage to the tombs of the great saints buried there.  As a fan of history, especially that of the Roman Empire, this is an exciting opportunity.  And, of course, I cannot forget to mention the restaurants and various markets.  We have an apartment so there will probably be some cooking going on.

I credit my going on this trip to Divine Providence.  I would never have been able to go if it wasn’t for the goodness of an anonymous benefactor, so please keep them in your prayers.  And please keep us in your prayers as we travel!  Four seminarians going on a trip together, what could possibly go wrong?!  But, I think we will make out all right, through all your holy prayers.

There will be plenty of pictures and hopefully a post or two per day depending on how things go.  We’re planning on hitting up the Orthodox churches for Divine Liturgy on Sundays and on the Annunciation.  Spend a day at the Vatican Museum, another seeing the Colosseum and the area around there, the Papal Audience on Wednesday.  And we’re hoping to attend 1st Vespers for the Annunciation on Thursday night.  I will be hitting up Gamarelli’s as well as a few other shops in the “clergy district.”  I am in need of a few items and there is no better place to get them than Rome itself.