ROME PILGRIMAGE-TH 9/24-TH 10/01/15 


It’s been an all day journey so far.  It’s just the price you pay for adventure.  

Two days and it seems like a week.

15,000+ steps -FR & SA 9/25 & 26. I’m sitting here forcing myself to write and I’m worn out.  


FRIDAY 9/26 we got here after lunch and began touring with Carla at 3pm.

We walked 10 blocks to Manzoni Sta and caught the subway to Piazza del Popolo- the northern entrance to Rome. Beautiful walls 20+feet high made of Roman brick.

I’m going to give you a very edited version: visited churches at del Popolo and then up the street to Spanish Steps, across town to the Pantheon, the de’ Francesi Church with 3 Caravaggio’s and finished at Piazza Navona.

Coffee at Tazza d’ Oro, gelato, several other churches and then took a cab back to the Lancelot. Great dinner meal. Wonderful day. Jimmy began our Romans Bible study.


SATURDAY 9/26 breakfast, Bible Study in Romans continues. Carla took us to the Coliseum, then Palatine Hill, Forum, St Mary Major and finished at la Scala and St John Lateran. We walked from there back down to the Lancelot.

Jimmy continued our Bible Study in Romans, dinner and heading to bed.

We of course had coffee many times and profiteroles.

Excellent day. We have really done a great many things at a fast pace.


SUNDAY 9/27 in Rome.  Dr Dukes is leading our Bible Study in Romans.  We did our morning worship and Bible Study after breakfast and then went to Manzoni Station up the street from the Lancelot to catch the metro and go to meet Carla north of the city.  Our major purpose today is to visit several of the ministries of Sant Egidio in the city.  


Our first stop is where Carla has faithfully ministered over the last 4 plus years: Comunita’ Di S. Egidio, Cappella Di S. Francesco.  Carla teaches Italian as a Second Language to immigrants.  We met some of the folks she teaches.  Additionally, she helps register immigrants so that they can bring them into the community in Rome.  Precious folks from Africa, Middle East, and South America.  As a side note Carla lives in a rough neighborhood and ministers in a rougher neighborhood.  I’m used to working in rough neighborhoods, lots of homeless, etc. and I recognized this as a rough neighborhood.  


Our second stop was at Comunita’ Di S. Egidio, Borromeo ( may not be the exact correct name).  I don’t know how to fully describe this community.  It is made up of homeless, elderly, and handicapped.  It is overwhelming emotionally to come into a community like this and see and feel the love, acceptance and welcome spirit that all have.  There was one person that is an atheist, communist and unbeliever and yet there he was in the midst of what has become his family and he still a staunch unbeliever.  I must say that this was deeply touching to me.  After the mass everyone, all, hung around outside in the courtyard talking with one another, listening, sitting and just generally enjoying each other.  They hung out.  About noon they were going to have a lunch together. 


We caught the bus nearby and traveled downtown to Piazza Largo Argentina (about 40-minute ride) and transferred to the #8 Tram to go to Trastevere (across the Tiber).  In Paul’s day this would have been where the Jews and Christians lived.  One can see the lights on Palatine Hill from there at night.  Nero in charge of the world and Christians at his mercy?  I believe that Paul and others disagreed with this and many were martyred for their faith.  But, let me continue on what we are doing today.    We walked from the tramline across Trastevere to Santa Maria in Trastevere.  Along the way we passed the Baptist Church as they were finishing their worship.  Stirring singing.  We visited the Santa Maria church which dates back to 340AD and was originally a Titular Church, one of the oldest in Rome.  Pope Saint Callixtus founded the house church on this site in 220AD.  


We went to the Trattoria de Gli Amica, excellent food and service, which is a ministry of the Comunita’ Di S. Egidio.  We also saw their original church where they were formed in 1968 in a little church building on Piazza Sant Egidio.  Remarkable location.  The Comunita’ is a movement of 60,000+ laypeople in over 73 countries around the world.  They are committed to spreading the Gospel and helping the unfortunate.  A multitude of helping ministries and evangelism.  


We had an appointment at the Borghese Gallery at 3pm.  That is a museum one can absolutely love.  They have 5 Caravaggio’s which is reason enough for me to go but in addition almost every item in their collection is noteworthy especially the Bernini sculptures of which David is one of my favorites.  For the first time since I have been visiting the Borghese they permitted us to take pictures but I must confess they do little justice to the real thing.  Lovely.  


Generally, when we are in Rome we stay at the Hotel Lancelot.  I’ve been staying here for 12 years and find it to be a home away from home.  Our groups have always been very welcome and the staff and owners go out of their way to take care of us.  One of the owners is Faris who exercises his gifts in hotel as its chef.  He is outstanding.  The meals at night are definitely gourmet affairs and I’ve never had a bad one.  I became mostly a vegetarian about 2 years ago and Faris is also a vegetarian so the meals he prepares me and other vegetarians is outstanding.  This week we have been dining on the patio under the stars.  Oh wow it is elegant and delightful.  GREAT.  By the way J. Dukes is looking forward to dinner tonight because we are having Faris’ profiteroles which are excellent.  Sorry we get a little carried away with the food.  One of the great things about having wonderful meals at the hotel is that when we drag in from a 15,000+ step day one is not looking to go anywhere else except to eat and go to bed!


This day was the main reason for my trip this year, that and to set up our November 18-26, 2016 Rome Pilgrimage.  I completed my business this morning with Lubna for our journey and only have to finalize the air in late January to put the trip together.  


MONDAY 9/28     EARLY-  Stan led the group to the Vatican Museum this morning.  They were traveling from Manzoni to Ottaviano when the metro stuck.  Stan brought them up from the Metro and went to a hotel and called two cabs for them to travel to the Vatican Museum.  His quick thinking got them there only about 15 minutes late.  They are having a great day at the Vatican and I’m thinking about a nap.  Blessings to each of you.  Hope you can all come to Rome with us in 2016!


MONDAY 9/28/15

TODAY, Monday was a relaxing day.  My total step output was less than 8,000 steps and I finished the day tired but not worn out.  It was still a busy day finishing up things and getting stuff put together.  

In the afternoon I met the group for lunch after their tour of the Vatican.  Stan led the group and he and Mel had been before but the others had not.  It was an eye-opening experience for them and Carla does such a marvelous job of taking folks thru the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s.  I ate too much at lunch and purposed not to do that again.  The Pizza is soooo good and the Caprese is superb!  Oh well I’m planning on starving when I get back home.  How does that go?  “When in Rome!”


We visited St Peter in Chains where we viewed Michelangelo’s Moses after taking the long way around to St Peter in Chains, by my reckoning we went about 2,000 steps out of the way but just sayin it was definitely the long way and when we went back I went my way, sauntered back, took about 20 pictures and stopped to talk with someone on the way and then to my surprise as I neared Capo di Africa there was the group still on route to San Clemente where they would visit the ruins beneath the church. I think my feet just naturally find the shortcuts.  


Dr Dukes led in the Bible study as we continued in Romans and of course for dessert we had profiteroles.  Super good!  The folks went out after dinner to walk around.  Rick showed back up in a few minutes.  I said short walk.  He said his only commitment was to the gelato shop and back.   I think that was wise.  


TUESDAY 9/29/15

All but me and Jim Dukes went to Florence.  They left at 6:30am this morning and hopefully will return in time for dinner tonight at 7:30pm.  

I slept till 7:15am when I woke with a start.  I had planned to have breakfast at 7:15 with J Dukes but obviously it would be at 8am.  We had a leisurely breakfast discussing various world situations and coming to many good conclusions but mostly we just had an excellent breakfast.  The croissants which I don’t normally eat were fresh and warm and good.  Yum.  Oh well another meal where I didn’t observe appropriated restraint.  I did really good the first four days but gave in this morning.  Excellent.  

We met Carla at 9am and walked to terminal B and took the metro out to the next to last stop and got on a bus to Tivoli-about an hour ride up into the hills outside of Rome.  Tivoli us a beautiful little hilltown where the travertina used in building Rome came from.  We rode thru the valley and up the hill on crowded two lane roads.    The bus made lots of stops and took about an hour to get to Tivoli.  It’s only about 30 kms so it was a little slow but very scenic.  The bus was hot but the seat comfortable.  

Such a beautiful town.  We walked the town from front to back, up and down and across.  The people are friendly and outgoing.  Several greeted us.  It was a very nice and enjoyable walk.  Even though it was up and down two hills it wasn’t intense so it was fairly easy.  

  1.  THE REAL DEAL TODAY: Lunch at Ristorante Sibilla in Tivoli established in 1720.  WOW.  They have a wisteria covered dining area outside, the day was stunning, the overlook of the valley was beautiful and the food was the very best.  We started with a Caprese salad which was the best I’ve had.  I had vegetable soup (turnip green based) and Jim and I had risotto with seafood and cantaloupe (amazing.)  Carla had sardines and pasta (looked good?)

This was a relaxing and enjoyable meal.  Lots of conversation and some planning for tomorrow and next year when we return.  Carla knew some of the folks here and enjoyed meeting them.  We walked the entire town again and caught the express bus back to metro B.  It only took about 30 minutes to get back to the metro line and another 25 minutes to get back to the hotel.  What a sight filled day.  So much green and beauty.  Such a wonderful little town.  Tivoli is definitely worth a visit when you visit Rome.  It is easy to get to also so add it to your trip plans.  


ROME -TU (9/29), WE (9/30) & TH (10/01)

Every trip and pilgrimage I’ve taken (the number is more than 100 and I hope to take 100 more) has its own character. Some are super intense, some mountain top experiences and others are just special. This trip falls into the just special classification.

I’ve been so blessed to travel with some of the greatest people who travel easily and love the adventure of traveling.

  1. J Dukes and I (9am)went with Carla to the Manzoni entrance of the metro and traveled to the next to last exit on line A and then caught a bus to Tivoli. Really good day of exploring in a picturesque hill town in Lazio just outside of Rome.

This is the city of Villa D’Est which we had visited several years ago. We didn’t include it in our walk today instead walking up and over the hill and all around the town.

We had lunch at Sibilla, a restaurant begun in 1720. We ate outside under their wisteria covered canopy. The food was superb. We had vegetable soup, caprese salad and a seafood risotto with cantaloupe. Amazing. The restaurant was next to Roman ruins overlooking a very deep gorge with a beautiful waterfall.

We also discovered some very nice apartments that rented for $500/mo. Nice. We got back to the Lancelot about 4:30pm. Wonderful day of adventure.

Another great evening meal at the Lancelot. Faris does a consistently outstanding job preparing excellent evening meals at the Lancelot. We always take our evening meals at the Lancelot. The food really is very good and by 7pm each night I’m at the end of my ability to walk any more that day.


  1. A special day. We all opted to take the morning off. Some walked over to San Clemente and some did other things. The time passes so fast.

We were going out to Carla’s for lunch and were to arrive about 1:30pm.  She lives at the very northern edge of Rome, a 15-20 min bus ride beyond the end of Metro B. Another adventure. Unfortunately Carla’s mom fell and banged up her shoulder. Carla had to take her to the emergency room and while nothing was broken Carla’s brother came and stayed with her mom and she met us at her apartment about 2:30pm.

She had made the preparations for lunch before she took h r mother to the emergency room.

Lunch was excellent. Caprese salad, meats, bread, Carla’s picnic salad, homemade bean & pasta soup (I love soup especially hearty soups), sausage, tomatoes and several other things. It was quite a spread even for the 7 of us. We loved her apartment. It is quite adequate, and a much nicer neighborhood than I had thought. We met Nello the cat. He actually obeys Carla very well.

I was honored that Carla thought enough of us to invite us into her home. She is our friend and the 7 of us and Carla had good fellowship.

Our whole trip has been special.


TH we got up, breakfast, airport compliments of Giovanni and son (even our transporter went out of his way to take care of us) and some 20 hours later here I sit at whatever altitude on a commuter jet about 2 hours from New Orleans.

Thank you for your prayers. We had such a good time and accomplished all of our reasons for going. I’m already looking forward to our Nov 18-26, 2016 Pilgrimage to Rome. Hope you can go with us.