What was special about this day besides – inevitable – feeling that “vacations are over and it is time to go home?” I would say, first of all, the contrast between relaxed and “take it easy” small-town Italy (previous seven days) and overwhelming with sounds,people, cars, and motorbikes Rome. It felt almost like “jumping” from one world into another. This is what I saw in the morning from the balcony of our B&B in Montelibretti
And this was only couple of hours later
Luckily, even in Rome, one can find quiet – and very pleasant – areas to enjoy, explore and relax. One of possibilities is to take a leisurely stroll along the Tiber river: not on the upper (street) level, but right next to the water. There is a very comfortable pedestrian path there, with the good views of Rome’s many ancient bridges and surprisingly few people walking and enjoying the scenery
And even in Rome, with its many “tourist traps,” there are still enough places to have a good and honest meal
This last day was also the day of reflection on entire trip. I never walked before along Europe’s many pilgrim’s trails. The experience of being seven days on St. Francis trail was amazing: it was an excellent combination of plentiful time for unhurried thinking about many things, powerful spiritual experiences when being at the sites associated with St. Francis, immersion (very pleasant) into the life of real rural and provincial Italy, and having many interesting conversations and discussions with the good friend, Fr. Christopher Savage. Needless to say that I am very grateful to Chris for being able to join him on the last “leg” of his nearly month-long hike from Florence, to Assisi and to Rome. Big THANK YOU, Chris!
What else? Rome is full of amazing (and imposing) churches and other religious and cultural sites. Unsurprisingly, on each trip there I “discover” something new and special. This time, these were Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere and the Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church. Both are among the oldest churches of Rome being built on foundations of pre-Christian temples. Santa Maria in Trastevere has stunning XII th century mosaics
Santa Maria in Cosmedin (which is Catholic Church of Byzantine rite) is much more ascetic. But it has a particular feel of many “layers of history” being present in the same place. Under the main church, there is the so-called Adrian’s crypt. It was carved in 8 th century by Pope Adrian in the space previously occupied by a temple – allegedly – devoted to Hercules. The crypt is shaped like a small basilica. The side walls have several niches, each with shelves made of marble, where the different relics are displayed. Myself and Chris spent a few minutes there praying at a small altar: very special feeling
Ok. This journey is over. Or, at least, I thought so until this very moment. I arrived perfectly on time to Fiumicino airport to take a plane to Milano and change there for San Francisco. But the sign on the fuselage of my plane says: Air Bulgaria. Really? We will see where I land. Good bye for now.