|We passed on hotels in Rome in favor of staying at one of
the religious houses, in our case with the Sisters of Charity at the
Institute of the Blessed Baby Mary. We'll never regret that
choice. The stay at that convent was the best part of the trip.
A number of religious institutions in Rome provide accommodations for travelers. The sisters at Maria Bambina provide living and meeting facilities for members of their world-wide order and for other religious orders and groups visiting Rome. When they have rooms excess to their booked needs, they will take in other individuals. This usually involves booking far in advance though.
For meals, we took half pension at the Institute, signing up for breakfasts and evening meals. We ate in a small dining room with other guests. We had our own reserved table and the choice of meals was to eat what they had for the day. It was always simple cooking and quite good. The table service was world class. We were allowed an unlimited quantity of most dishes. A very good quality of table wine was provided with the evening meal. Breakfasts included all the cappuccinos you wanted.
The only persons at the Institute that spoke English were two of the receptionists who were very helpful to us. Our contact with the sisters was limited to passing them in the hallways and elevators and hearing their choir singing angelically in the chapel at various times of the day. They were all cheerfully friendly to us.
Staying there involved following rules which we found to be no problem. At 11 p.m., anyone not inside is going to spend the rest of the night outside. Guests are expected to be intelligent enough to understand that they are staying at a religious order and not a hotel. The nicest part was the absence of TV. They generously provided me with wi-fi access to the main Vatican internet server.
Information about their order can be found at http://www.suoredimariabambina.org/default_en.htm
|Rome is so crowded that it's often impossible to back up far enough to take a picture of a building. This is the case with the Maria Bambina complex. The main building is 5 stories high (plus a penthouse and roof garden and is internally connected to other adjacent buildings. The convent is located across the street Via Paolo VI from St. Peter's Square. The picture above was taken near the obelisk in the middle of the square. The columns are, of course, the perimeter columns of the piazza with the statues of saints atop them. The building peeking up behind was where we stayed.|
|The main approach to St. Peter's Square is down Via della Conciliazione. That street branches to left and right around the piazza. The left branch is Via Paolo VI. The building above is another convent. A ramp can be seen at the rear of it. That ramp is the entry to our building.||This is the view from the gate to the Institute looking away from it at the dome of Basilica San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica).|
|Turning around from the last picture above, this is the gate to Maria SS Bambina (the left one).||After you push the button by the gate and identify yourself by name and room number (in Italian, please), the electric gate is opened remotely by the receptionist.|
|All that remains is to walk up this ramped drive which seemed to get a little longer every day we were there, particularly when the outside temperature was over 95 Fahrenheit. The door to the left of the tree is the main entrance.||The view from the main entrance through the columns into Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square).|
|Sign at the gate indicating that this is territory of the City State of the Vatican.||The Vatican flag flying over the Paul VI Audience Hall next door.|
|We had a comfortable room with a clean, modern bathroom. The condition and cleanliness of the room, furnishings, and linen were top notch.||My desk on the left held my computer and camera equipment and everything else got piled on Christa's desk on the right.|
|A view of the basilica from the rooftop. I spent a lot of time up here listening to the bells sounding.||A view of the main intersection in front of the piazza from the rooftop.|
|Another view from the rooftop including the campanile of the building next to us.||The same campanile seen through the window adjacent to the elevator on our floor.|
|Some of the other buildings of the Institute connected to ours.||A glimpse into the central open atrium of our building. Well-tended plants on every floor.|
|A view of the basilica and piazza after dark.||The courtyard at night was quiet and secure.|
|With the Institute as a refuge, we were ready to see Rome. Christa always carried a bag.....just in case we needed to buy something.|
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