Monday, October 19, 2009

65th Birthday Celebration - First Photos - Rome

Much to my relief, I did arrive at Rome's Hotel Napoleon in time for their Friday evening "wine appreciation hour."  I had been worried about that, since my flight didn't touch down at FCO until nearly 4:30PM and, with clearing customs, and evening rush hour, I was sure I wouldn't make it by 6PM.  When I stayed there in April 2008, a year and a half ago, it was such a fun event, attended by hotel management who treat you like family - and their Italian wine selections were superb!

Here I am with Roberto Cioce, Hotel Manager, a most delightful gentleman who has become a friend.  Now that I am retired, I am not sure I will ever get back to Rome but I have delighted in staying at the Hotel Napoleon during my two visits, in April 2008, and for my birthday, in October 2009.  I would recommend this warm and pleasant hotel ( which came highly recommended on TripAdvisor ) to anyone visiting the Eternal City!

With the ultimate concierge, Francisco Quirinis, who is the best I have ever met, anywhere in the world.  He is handsome, magical, charming and can accomplish anything.

I was so amazed that Pietro, the bartender, remembered me, as did other staff, a year and a half later.  It is such a family hotel and the employees stay for years.

My friends and me, enjoying the "wine appreciation hour" to the fullest!

The Coliseum, within walking distance of the Hotel Napoleon.

We headed out to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican on my birthday, October 3rd.  It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny.  This building was across the street from the ticket entrance to the Sistine Chapel.

We already had our tickets but there was a long line and, of course, this group of boys were being boys and had tried to make a pyramid up the wall.

Pretty apartment buildings across from the entrance to the Sistine Chapel.

Sturdy shrub growing through the bricks!

Vatican Statue

Beautiful stained glass 

Vatican Square and St. Peter's Basilica

Driving back to our hotel, we saw this bride and groom on a hillside!

My birthday lunch - yummy grilled vegetables and very good house pinot grigio!

Sign above the restaurant entrance to downstairs - I found it quite comical - I guess it referred to the low overhang but I wasn't totally sure!

My birthday dinner at Orso 80 in Rome.  I discovered this restaurant last year when I was in Rome for my 64th birthday.  It is a delightful family run restaurant, famous for its local dishes.  On TripAdvisor, it is rated #127 out of 1593 restaurants in Rome.  

We ordered the Roman Antipasto for the table, deciding to wait to order anything more and that was a wise decision.  We could not have eaten another dish.  Plate after plate of fabulous antipasti ( fifteen in all ) arrived - grilled eggplant, proscuitto, grilled zucchini, olives, meatballs, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, shrimp, salami, mushrooms - I can't remember everything!  Topped of by an excellent Italian red wine, recommended by our waiter, we were totally content.

My first plate - there was a second to match this.

This was an amazing surprise, out of the "small world" catergory.  We were sitting at our table, when this lady approached and asked if I was Carmen Henesy.  I thought she looked vaguely familiar.  She said she was dining with her companion Delta flight attendants when we passed their tables.  "I recognized your by your eye shadow." ( I always match my outfits...have done it for about 50 years! ).  Anyway, Jennifer and I attended a Spanish child forensic interviewing course in Huntsville, Alabama together two years ago!  We've corresponded since but haven't seen each other.  It was such a surprise to run into her in Rome at the very same restaurant!

The finale!

 We left the restaurant and decided to walk to the Piazza Navonna for a nightcap.  There were little vendors in the street and my friend, Phil, bought me this sweet bracelet for my birthday.  Since my friend, Brenda, was wearing a red dress, I let her wear it for the evening.  She modeled it for this picture, with our bottle of wine.

It was pretty crowded at the Piazza Navonna so we spent about an hour, sipping wine and listening to strolling musicians.  Lovely!

Someone must have hugged off part of my eye makeup!  After a little wine, who cares?
Our time in Rome flew by all too quickly.  Fortunately, I was there last year and had been several times before so sightseeing wasn't so much an issue.  I was able to relax and just take it easy. 
We left early on Sunday morning for Civitivecchia to board Royal Caribbean's huge Navigator of the Seas for our six day Mediterranean cruise.  More on that and pictures, of course, in another episode.


  1. Looks like a grand celebration! Happy belated birthday, and enjoy many more to come!

  2. you sure know how to have a good time !

  3. Oh my soul! What I would give to have been with you for your birthday and we have only just met. I would love to travel, but I'm afraid that even without being layed off, I am a pauper (eating "Meliepap"). My daughter visited the Sistine Chapel a couple of years ago and she smuggled a couple of photos - naughty her. It is so beauthiful. Where are you off to next?

  4. Carmen, Love the shots especially the coliseum and the Piazza. Your dinner looks scrumptious and the finale, WOW! What a great celebration for a great lady !

  5. What a wonderful way to spend a birthday! Fine food, fine friends and a fine location.

  6. Carmen, thanks for visiting me. You seem to know just how to celebrate!

  7. that was a wonderfully yummy roman tour!

  8. All this before the cruise? What a glorious way to spend your special day. I've just had fun identifying as much as I could on your plate - my style of eating. So happy you had a splendid time on just day 1!

  9. Thanks, all, for the kind birthday wishes. It was an exciting day - actually, I was also in Rome last year, with two friends for my 64th birthday,then we did a wonderful twelve day Mediterranean cruise. Discovered that Orso 80 restaurant then and also stayed at the Hotel Napoleon. I can remember doing my first 12 day Mediterranean cruise for my 55th birthday and celebrating with a Bellini cocktail at Harry's Bar in Venice. Can't believe that was ten years ago!!!

  10. What a wonderful birthday celebration!

    I'm writing down your recommendations as I hope to visit Rome again in about 3-4 years when my husband retires. We last visited in 2001.

    I also had a birthday in Italy at that time but it was celebrated in Florence of my most favorite cities after Venice.

    All of Italy is so beautiful!

  11. It sounds like a magical birthday.
    I am thinking I want to go away somewhere for my 40th. I am not sure if it will be as far across the sea's as Rome but just to travel again would be fun.

  12. Sure looks like you had a great celebration!

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