It is amazing to think that just a few months ago we were in Rome. I reminisced about earlier visits, including the time years ago when I passed up the opportunity to have an audience with the Pope.
Now that Pope Benedict has left his role of head of the Catholic Church and retired to the quiet life of contemplation at Castel Gandolpho I remembered that we stayed in an area of Rome that has shops catering to the clergy.
This is the area of The Pantheon. Here are found not only the magnificent and ancient Pantheon but the hotel where I first stayed in Rome decades ago. Albergo del Senato is now a much more upscale hotel than it was when I stayed there in the early Eighties.
I had always admired another hotel just a short walk away from the Senato, Hotel Santa Chiara. Scott very generously accomodated my long-standing wish to stay there. It is centrally-located in the very heart of historic old Rome, just a short walk from my earlier hotel, and near to all the sites of the Centro Historico including the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.
And very near, steps away, are the shops catering to the clergy that I mentioned.
This is a family business that will have the clothing prepared for the next Pope. When he steps onto the balcony to greet his new flock he will be dressed head-t0-foot in garments, including appropriately-colored socks and shoes from Gammarelli.
The New York Times, among most large news sources, printed a wonderful article on the historic shop that has been providing clerical garments since the 18th Century.
Other shops are clustered in this area as well. The New York Times article pointed out the the cardinals assembled for the conclave to elect the new Pope will no doubt visit these shops to stock up on essentials for their wardrobes.
How amazing to think that there is a living Pope who will be able to follow the electoral process of his succesor!