It rained briefly today; maybe three hours.

After seeing my mother off in her car to the airport and stopping at the supermarket down the street for supplies, I showered and, checking out of Armony Suites, said my goodbye and thank you to Luca. I meant it when I said I hoped I’d see him again. It’s a good place.

It was still raining a bit when I left on foot. I was able to travel here as light as I try to travel at home, so I had only my Samsonite shoulder bag to carry the mile or so walk to the Hotel della Conciliazione, where I’ll stay tonight before we leave tomorrow morning for San Giovanni Rotondo.

After checking in, I caught an Uber across town to the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major to meet with Domenico, a local friend. We first met at Napa Institute last year, and after reaching out on my arrival we decided to meet up here for a tour and to enjoy lunch together. He’s an acolyte of some sort at the basilica, and was able to give me a private tour of the place with a sense for its history and nuance that I felt really fortunate to receive. I’ll remember the tour of this holy place for the rest of my life, and was grateful to him for so vividly portraying the layered history of this remarkable extraterritorial Vatican basilica. Here is a procession that was happening just before I met up with Domenico:

Afterwards I took an Uber back to my hotel and freshened up before meeting up with Bobby Schindler and our pilgrimage group for a visit to EWTN’s Rome bureau on the Conciliazione. This was followed by a memorable hours-long dinnertime at I Quattro Mori. This restaurant is just a few blocks south of the Vatican, and a block or two west of the Bambino Gesu hospital that would have served as refuge for little Alfie Evans. After post-dinner limoncello I walked back to my hotel, admiring the splendor of Saint Peter’s Basilica near midnight.

Tomorrow morning we’ll celebrate an early mass at St. Peter’s and head by mini-bus to San Giovanni Rotondo.