The day started out with showers. Our drive to the dialysis clinic was through glistening streets – light scattered showers with more to come.
David dropped me off then headed back to the Minerva. I am becoming a bit more conversant with my dialysis team and fellow patients. They try to speak a few works they know in English, and I respond with the few Italian words I have learned. David returned at 10 am, with one of the drivers we have had before. Turns out he used to be with the Carabinieri, both a police unit and part of the military, unlike the Polizia who function just as local police. Our driver said he had been shot twice in his duties, and after the second time decided to retire from the Carabinieri. He has a 17-year old daughter, who he said gives him all the stress he can take. “Last year I was a hero,” he said, “now I know nothing.” I guess it is the same with children everywhere as they grow up. He gave us a nice explanation of many of the things we pass each day on our way to/from dialysis, including the imposing Basilica San Giovanni, a place where may Popes were crowned. We had decided to visit it earlier, but his description closed the deal. They are building a big stage for a May 1st concert there, which (thankfully) we will miss – May Day in most European countries is a mess. Tom and Katherine will be in London for it, which is one of the worst places to be in our past experience.
We headed off to San Giovanni with Katherine and Tom – Darren and Misha were at their painting class. The taxi dropped us off at the main entrance, which was closed, so we headed around to the piazza and found that entrance open. The Basilica is enormous, and furnished with impressive statuary and gilt. The massive altar may only be used by the Pope, and the Basilica is the burial place of many of them. We spent over an hour taking it all in, and could easily have spent more time. The artwork is endless, and statuary is extensive.
Leaving the Basilica, priority #1 for David was to find a BancoMat to replenish his supply of Euro. We found one down the street, and David filled up, then headed to a small restaurant, Locondo Rigatoni, for lunch. They were out of Vermentino, our first choice in wine, so David reached into his basket of wine expertise to get us a bottle of nice substitute, a blend of pinot blanco and chardonnay. The menu looked good. Tom ordered Veal Saltimbocca, Katherine a green salad, I had a rigatoni carbonara, and David rigatoni Amatriciana.
After our repast, we headed back on to the street and found a cab back to hotel for a short snooze, then met Darren and Misha in the lobby to hear about their art class and see what they had done. Darren is pretty talented and his sketches and paintings were excellent. Misha’s were good as well, and she is always anxious to learn.
Katherine and Tom arrived and shared a glass of wine before we all headed out to the restaurant that Tom had researched before our arrival Osteria del Sostegno. It was only about five minutes from the hotel, a plus given the occasional heavy showers. The welcome was warm, and the food was pretty good. Every seat was filled, a sign that a good meal was to come. We started with appetizers for the table – chick peas, cannellini, burrata, bresaola, eggplant, and more. We cleaned most of the plates and then moved on to the main course. I had saltimbocca, while three others went for veal involtini, thin veal cutlets wrapped around roman artichokes (now in season). Tom had a beef and artichoke plate that didn’t look great but tasted wonderful, while Misha went with lamb. All were excellent. A few people had desserts, but Darren, Misha, and David opted to hold off and go to Darren and Misha’s favorite Gelato spot a block from the restaurant. While Tom, Katherine and I headed back, the three of them strolled up the street. David said it was wonderful. He had a “medium (three scoop) cup” made up with Irish coffee, pistachio, and chocolate.
Then they headed back to the hotel, dodging showers.