We arrived in Rome on the 26th of June, stayed for just two nights, before renting the car for our little road trip.

Our hotel, Panama Gardens, reminded me of the Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. A bit retro and very charming, it had a picture of Brigitte Bardot sauntering through the lobby when she stayed there in the 1960’s. When I first walked in the lady asked me if I was looking for Ginger. Ginger had just left to a restaurant down the street, Mangiafuoco, and I found her there. We played catch-up on our lives, while eating pizza and fried olives. The next night we went to the same place for dinner and I had arguably the best pasta of my life. Thick noodles in a minty tomato sauce with pork. The mint sounded odd, but it was so good.

We wandered around the Roman Forum and went to the Bocca Della Verita, where you wait in line to stick your hand inside the ‘mouth of truth’. If you tell a lie with your hand inside, it will be bit off. The church there, Basilica of Santa Maria, also boasts the relics of the patron saint of love, St. Valentine. A skull sits in a glass case, adorned by flowers.

It may or may not be the skull of Saint Valentine. Also, there is more than one person named Saint Valentine and it’s hard to say which is the one celebrated on the 14th of February, since the Pope declared that day a holiday in 496. There are many other places that lay claim to having his relics. Relics were an important part of Christian pilgrimage in the middle ages and provided economic boosts to the places that held them.

It was a short and sweet visit, before a long drive to Naples.


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