Siena, today! We took a day trip to Siena, the town affiliated with St. Catherine of Siena, a very special saint who dedicated her life to Christ and His Church as a nun and received the grace of the stigmata. As we mentioned in a previous post, her body is in Rome, but her head is kept in Siena.The Church where St. Catherine’s head is kept, Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico, is very old and beautiful.
Siena itself reminded us a little of Assisi; it’s a very cute town with lots of shops, coffee bars, and gelato. We went to get some gelato at La Costarella. It was really good, Kathleen’s favorite, although Ivana still left her heart at Old Bridge.
After our lovely snack, we went over to another cathedral, Duomo di Siena. We had to get a ticket to enter, although they were free, which was nice. The beauty of the cathedral did not disappoint! One might think that we would have become accustomed by now to so much beautiful architecture out here in Europe, but it never really gets old, and each church has it’s own individuality majesty of offer.
Because of the rain, our stay in Siena was rather short, but still memorable!
Our second day in Roma was quite eventful. We met up with Kathleen’s friend, Matthew, who is a seminarian at the North American College – one of the seminaries in Rome.
We met up at Piazza Navona, and from there we went to the Pantheon, a Roman Temple to all of the gods. It was raining and we were able to see the rain coming down through the hole in the roof. The Romans, even though there were master architects, were not able to figure out how to complete the dome without it caving in. It has since been converted into a Catholic Church and the tomb of the great painter Raphael lies there.
Tomb of painter Rafael
We then stopped into Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a basilica made to show that the Virgin Mary is much greater than the Roman goddess Minerva. This church is absolutely magnificent, a splendid example of gothic architecture. The body of St. Catherine of Siena is there, although her head is kept in Siena. We were able to pray in front of the main alter where her body is kept. It was amazing to be so close to such a great saint and pray for her to grace the rest of our journey as well as for our many intentions that we carry with us to every church.
Next, we went to lunch, a glorious Italian lunch. For our appetizer we had mozzarella de bufala with prosciutto. This is a small ball of fresh mozzarella with lovely, salty Italian smoked ham. For our main course we shared three different pasta dishes. The first, Macichano, Matthew’s favorite, is a meaty sauce over homemade spaghetti noodles. The second, Bolognaise, is another red sauce over thick linguini noodles. And lastly, (both Ivana and Kathleen’s favorite), the Carbonara, is a white sauce which is made by mixing egg and parmagian cheese and then pouring it over the pasta as it comes out of the boiling water. Bacon and fresh ground pepper are added to finish the dish.
The last thing we did was go to a Norman Rockwell exhibit at the museum. This was definitely a highlight of the trip. Being able to see the original work of such a prolific American artist, was amazing.
We then hopped on a bus to head back to our hostel. When we got back, we were hungry, so we went and got some gelato and ate some dinner from the grocery store.