Move over, honey-baked ham.

Jesus is Risen! He has risen indeed!

Living in Roma means I’m fortunate enough to stumble upon the Vatican pretty darn often. Tough life, right? 🙂

In the last couple of weeks, tourism has been picking up and hit its climax on Easter morning — welcome to Roma, tourist season. I can’t say I’ve missed you…. Jacked-up prices, even more unreliable & crowded buses, and throngs of people flooding around the city? No thank you!

However, I do love tourists for the mere fact that I am such a tourist myself, even though one would think that, after living here for nearly 4 months, I would start to fit in.

Case in point:

I do this because I love you. I really do.

Anyways, it was exciting watching the Vatican get all prepped up for Easter. This was one of the Pope’s big days, after all! (He had to have been in bed by 7 pm the night before. That, or up until 3 practicing his Easter Greeting in some-twenty different languages…)

Mid January, it looked like this:


Then progressed to look like this on Palm Sunday:


By Easter Sunday, the crowds had come out in droves!

Don’t let the first picture fool you — the threat of rain turned out to be nothing to worry about. Five minutes into the mass, the clouds parted and the sun came out.

Our tickets told us to arrive by 8:15 am, but since the mass didn’t start until 10:30, we sat patiently in our seats took pictures. And lots of ’em!

Waiting in line...which Italians actually don't believe in.

The Pope’s bedroom window is the 2nd from the right, top floor.

Penthouse sweet, natch 😉 

The 2 hours passed quickly, and before I knew it, the Pope-mobile was arriving:

Though our seats were fairly close and I could see the Pope if I craned my next just so and squinted my eyes, I took the liberty to look at the big jumbo-tron on numerous occasions.

Rumor had it the mass would be 4+ hours long, but it, too, flew by. Our worship book/order of service was over 60 pages long, but 2 1/2 hours later, we were leaving our seats and trying to make it out of St. Peter’s Square before all of the other tourists…

While there was only one reading in English (the rest of the mass was conducted in Latin and a mix of other languages), I tried to look at the Italian printed side-by-side and actually managed to interpret some of it. At the close of the service the the Pope wished the people of over 20 countries a Happy Easter in their native languages. We were so confused (and shocked!) at the end when we hadn’t heard “Happy Easter” to the Americans. We were going to stand up, yell, cheer, high-five, etc. We missed it! I guess he said it right at the beginning, and his English isn’t the greatest (but can you really blame the guy?).

He gave his Easter message from up here on the balcony.

Such a great experience (I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to do that again), but I definitely missed a service in English at my Grandparents’ church, where my family goes every year. Something about tradition…and being able to understand the message gets me I guess 🙂

Service concluded, we high-tailed it out of there to escape the endless crowds and grab some sandwiches before walking back to campus (roughly 2 miles).

I was craving a warm panini on square foccacia bread (don’t ask me why — it’s just the better bread, alright?!).

Craving satisfied.

A tasty panini with salty slices of thin prosciutto, mozzarella, and sprigs of arugula. And the most delicious, buttery square foccacia bread ever. It’s no warm vegetable medley, au gratin potatoes, or Grandma’s fresh-baked mini-rolls & pies, but it’ll have to do…

The rest of our Easter Sunday was, in my opinion, exactly the way it should be: laying out on blankets in the courtyard, talking, playing what would you bring to a desert island games, joking around…plain relaxation. After a very early morning, it was a perfect way to spend our afternoon.

Regardless of how happy we are to be studying together in Rome, nothing causes us to miss our families more than a Sunday holiday apart. For many of us, Sundays and holidays are both times we spend with our families, surrounded by the ones we love.

Well, this semester…my friends have become my family.

We all prettied ourselves up and put those homesick-blues aside. A Sunday night dinner with friends was what we all needed most. We chose to venture to Il Chiodo Fisso, a delicious restaurant a 10-15 minute walk from campus.

I’ve been twice before (once with my dad & Julie, the other with Julie & her family), but for some reason, it’s never shown up on ciaotochow before. I knew I had to order the carbonara again because, the first time I had it, I was in utter amazement at how unbelievably delicious it was: al dente spaghetti served as the basis for salty bits of pancetta and egg. A true Roman specialty!

The trick is to turn the heat on low as you add the egg and cheese into the mix, and stir it continually (this way, the egg will scramble as soon as it meets the hot spaghetti but will be incorporated throughout the pasta, not just on top!).

I adore twirling my spaghetti on a fork (but ssh! sometimes I cut my pasta, a definite “NO” in Italy…):

So good! Move over, honey-baked ham. There’s a new sheriff in town! It’s such a rich, heavy dish — comfort food at its finest, that’s for sure. That being said, I wasn’t too upset when they gave me a significantly smaller portion than last time (when I couldn’t even come close to finishing it)…

…more room for Easter candy when I got home 😉 (Thanks, Mom & Dad Easter Bunny!)


With 11 of us seated side-by-side at a long rectangular table in front of an open window, in a way, it felt like I was with family.

After all, there was lots of laughter, toasts that were both humorous and sentimental, and good food & wine.

I’ll cheers to that!

I hope your Easter — whether with family or friends who are like family — was just as special.

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About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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4 Responses to Move over, honey-baked ham.

  1. Julie says:

    This post summarized our Easter perfectly! I couldn’t have spent it with better people…thanks for capturing the memories with your beautiful words and pictures. 🙂

  2. Sounds like your Easter was FABULOUS! 😀

  3. Kenz says:

    vatican looked so beautiful! So does that pasta…end of the year dinner with your favorite Kenz??? 🙂 just suggesting:)

  4. MareMare says:

    I’m with Julie — you captured this extraordinary experience beautifully! It is hard to whine about ‘having to share you with the Pope’!!! We’ll see you soon! xxxooo

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