Some final thoughts on the “Ad limina” visit (in no particular order)
Nothing on the trip can beat the honor of meeting the Holy Father and talking with him. To think he takes time out of his busy schedule to meet with us when we come to Rome is amazing. Over the past few months there have been a lot of rumors about his failing health and possible retirement. I didn’t see any of that. What I encountered is a man who is in his mid 80s and carried himself as such. My Dad is 89 and his doctors tell us that he is in excellent health. But he is 89. You can’t ask him to look and act like he’s 75. So, I think it is for Pope Benedict.
I wasn’t able to stay for the consistory because I had the Rite of Election scheduled for this past Sunday in the cathedral. The Rite of Election is too important in the life of the Church for me to miss it. Perhaps there will be other opportunities for me to attend a consistory in the future but not this year.
The smog in Rome is much better but it still has a long way to go. It seemed like I had a chest cold the whole time I was there. But if you don’t mind the cold, February is a good month to visit Rome. Everything is still open and there are no crowds anywhere. The weather this year though after the snow days cleared and the air was as clean as it gets.
The “rigatoni alla carbonara” at the Abruzzi just off the Piazza Dodieci Apostoli is good but the the “spaghetti alla carbonara” at Mazzicone’s on the Borgo Pio has it beat. It’s a heart attack in a bow and delicious as such.
The plane flight from Rome to Atlanta is a long one. Almost 11 hours. You can go from Tokyo to Munich in that time. Never knew that until I was thumbing through the airline magazine while standing in the galley trying wake up my legs from sitting so long.
Speaking of traveling, I can’t say enough about how great the train system is in Italy and western Europe. It is amazing who quick the”rapido” or express train gets you between one city and another. It is now less than an hour and half from Rome to Naples and less than two hours between Rome and Florence. When I was a student in Italy in 90-94, it was pretty much double that time. And going first class is the way to go (it’s only about 30% more).