A Mother’s Day Affair in Rome!

Before May ends, let me do another Mother’s Day post about a trip that is very meaningful to me. It’s always been my mom’s dream to see the Vatican. My mom is a very traditional devout Catholic. And she’s always been that one person who taught me to pray and have faith especially at the most trying times. Two years ago, when the newly elected Pope was announced and I learned more about Pope Francis, I decided why not bring Mama to the Vatican for Mother’s Day. We both admired the new Pope and it would be the perfect time to fulfill her lifelong dream. I also wanted to travel with her again after a year of being married and wanted to do this for her before I have kids and we get too busy.

It was all very impulsive and spontaneous. I called my friend Cams and asked if she wants to have Mother’s Day Sunday mass with us at the Vatican along with her mom. She was surprised as it was so random but she and her mom were instantly game! So within a month, we fixed everything — tickets, visas, travel accommodations and our itinerary with a side trip to Florence and Pisa. My mom also didn’t have a clue at first, I just got her passport and booked everything for us and told her afterwards and was she ecstatic! After being in Rome a year ago with Ken for our honeymoon, this trip now is really for her.

And so off we went to see the Pope for Mother’s Day! 🙂

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We took Etihad and we had a stopover at Abu Dhabi.

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Mama’s first long haul flight for Europe! 🙂

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Our little friend in the airport who reminded me of my nephew Moky 🙂

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Our moms chatting away during the long wait.

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Stopover selfie with Cams! 🙂

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After a 7-hour layover, we are enroute to Rome

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Wheeee! ❤

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Good bye Abu Dhabi!

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Ciao Roma!

When we arrived in Rome, we had a horrifying welcome at the hotel we initially booked — The Opera Hotel. To those reading this post, thou shall NOT book that hotel! We flew 24 hours only to arrive there and find out that they bumped us off. Meaning we had no rooms! And they said they were calling and we weren’t answering because we were obviously in flight. And this was after I made long distance calls to them 4x prior to our arrival to confirm. They were very unhelpful and rude and it was such a bad experience. Imagine we were with our senior citizen moms who were so tired from the flight and it was their first time in Rome. Good thing, we were transferred to an even better hotel — UNA Hotel that was just a short walk across Termini station with a more accommodating service and a great buffet breakfast everyday. Our stay there cancelled out the bad experience with the first one. The bad thing though is that they can’t accommodate us in our whole stay so we had to move to another hotel beside it for a night and go back to them after Florence and Pisa for the rest of our stay in Rome.

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Mama in Roma in front of Una Hotel.

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Scrumptious Italian breakfast spread with varying choices! Yogurt, milk and cheeses.

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Breads and pastries!

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Toasts, jams and nutella spreads!

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Cheeses and cold cuts!

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We arrived on Saturday and for our first morning right after enjoying our breakfast, we headed straight to the Vatican for Mother’s Day Sunday Mass. It was then that we saw Pope Francis for the first time. We arrived a bit late and the mass was starting already but nonetheless it was a good first experience for the moms. Mama really enjoyed and it was quite emotional to get to attend Sunday Mother’s Day mass with our moms right at the Vatican with the new Pope. A year ago from this, back in 2012, when I first experienced the Vatican with Ken, it was Pope Benedict’s reign. A visit during Pope Francis’ reign is very different. The vibe is more energetic and his friendly and loving aura is just very infectious. Unlike Pope Benedict, he also goes around to all areas where there are people even at the back and outside St. Peter’s Square. He really is the People’s Pope.

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Mama’s first view of the Vatican during our Sunday Mass.

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Mama and Tita Baby with one of the Vatican Cardinals.

Afterwards we had yummy lunch of authentic Italian food. Too bad I was only able to take a photo of my lasagna lol. Then we went to see the Trevi Fountain and had some gelato while walking and discovering nice spots and Roman architecture. We also visited the Pantheon and spent the rest of the afternoon at Piazza Navona to enjoy the art and the scenery.

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Mama and I by the Trevi Fountain.

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Trevi Fountain

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We had a very good first whole day in Rome. For the next 2 days we went to Florence for an overnight stay with a side-trip to Pisa. I’ll share about this part of our trip in another post. When we went back to Rome, it was Wednesday and it was time for the Papal Audience. But first, the good stuff — we were upgraded to a suite with a huge bathroom and tub when we went back to UNA Hotel! 🙂

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We went out early Wednesday morning for the Vatican once more and this time it’s for the Papal Audience. We were very lucky to be able to get front row aisle seats! Pope Francis will be passing right in front of us! Oh Mama was so ecstatic! 🙂

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Early at the Vatican City!

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Me and Mama at our front row seats! The closest we can possibly get to seeing Pope Francis!

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Mama, Cams and Tita Baby

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These cute Italian twins playing with our phones as we wait.

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Selfie with this cute little doll! She will be the lucky kid kissed by the Pope later on 🙂

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Mama and her Italian seat mate from Florence. They chatted in 2 different languages and exchanged prayer booklets. :p

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The crowd behind us.

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Italian guards in front of us signaling the Pope’s entrance.

And there he is! 🙂 I’ll also attach my video of this amazing experience 🙂

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Mama waving at the Pope.

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Overjoyed is an understatement. This experience was a dream come true for her! 🙂

After a celebratory lunch across the Vatican, we shopped for souvenir items and rosaries and then went on to spend our afternoon in the Colosseum.

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The traveling mom and daughter tandems 🙂 Such a fun trip together! ❤

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The next morning we were again back in the Vatican this time to tour St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. It was closed the day before. We also had to space out the tiring touring and walking in different days to make the whole trip “senior citizen” friendly hehehe!

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Pope John Paul II’s tomb inside St. Peter’s Basilica

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Mama by Pope John Paul II’s tomb. In 1995, Mama brought all of us her 3 kids in Luneta to see him when he came to Manila.

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By the foot of St. Peter’s tomb.

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Mama by the list of all the Popes.

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Beautiful pillars of the Vatican City.

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Ang mga mudra. Bow.

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Inside the Vatican Museum. Mama with a shot of Pope Francis.

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The room of maps inside Vatican museum.

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I love these stairs of the Vatican museum.

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Excuse our homeless fashion in this shot. We were dressed for the summer heat then it suddenly rained when we were lining outside and we had to put on whatever cover up we had and buy umbrellas. A fun adventure nonetheless! 🙂

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After our museum tour we lined up here across the Vatican for one of the best gelato of Rome — Old Bridge Gelateria.

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Wasn’t able to take a shot of their gelato as the place was packed.

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And after exactly a week, it was our last morning and our last breakfast in UNA Hotel before we flew back home to Manila.

Looking back at this time 2 years ago, I’m very grateful to have made this trip happen. It was very eventful – from getting bumped off in our first hotel, having to find a hotel for the night that we couldn’t be accommodated, long lines while it’s raining hard, to seeing the Pope very close, praying in the various churches together, experiencing authentic Italian food together, visiting sights you only see in movies and read on books. It was really a trip one for the books! And I’m really glad I was able to have this experience with my mom and my good friend Cams and her mom too. The four of us together really made this trip very fun!

It was part of my personal bucket list to be able to do this for my mom and during this time I thought of having my own personal pilgrimage in Rome. I thought there’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than in Rome fulfilling my mom’s Vatican dreams while I also pray to be blessed with motherhood soon. This was what I prayed for during the time we were there. I was 10 months married at this time during our trip. And lo and behold, when we got back it was that time I got pregnant. But unfortunately it didn’t progress and we had to wait. And then, exactly 2 years later, after this very special trip, we were again blessed and Mother’s Day in this month of May had more meaning to me.

And so I look back and thank my Mom for all those times she constantly reminded me to pray and have faith. And I look back on this trip and remember what I prayed for the whole time and I realize that no matter the wait, no matter the hardships, no matter the ups and downs of the journey, it will all just happen in God’s perfect time. And that’s what moms do, they wait with you, they pray with you, they are with you in everything. And I’m forever grateful ❤

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Me and Mama at the Vatican, May 16, 2013.

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