The following is one of those stories that is so unbelievable, it has to be true!

As most of you already know, one of my favorite places to go for breakfast, brunch or lunch is Homebaked, a place near St. Peter’s Square that Jesse, an American from Buffalo and his Roman wife, Carolina opened two and a half years ago. They’ve had a similar but much smaller place for 8 years on Monteverde and opened the one on Via di Porta Cavalleggeri in April 2019.

Homebaked offers amazing breakfasts, terrific and abundant sandwiches, wraps, salads, nachos and so many other things.  I go every Saturday for lunch and every Sunday after Mass for brunch when I delight in their French toast, their wonderful bacon, coffee and a mimosa.

Carolina is there 3 days a week (they close Tuesdays) and Jesse on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I always go on weekends and sometimes during the week. Occasionally, as I did yesterday, I go on Mondays so that I can see Carolina.

That is all by way of background and now here is the amazing part:

I was sitting at one of the outside tables eating lunch, close to an open window with display cases featuring Jesse’s homebaked sweets (you’ll never eat a better blueberry muffin!). Carolina and I were chatting when a mailman came up to her, held out a letter and asked: Is this for you?  She started to say ‘no’ but then saw my name on the envelope and handed it to me!

It was a letter from a close friend of mine in the States who, by one digit, had written the wrong address of my apartment building on Via di Porta Cavalleggeri.   So the mailman went to the address that seemed likely to correspond to the number on the envelope and it was Homebaked!

Caroline and I were speechless, to say the least!!

It gave a whole new meaning to the expression “What a small world!”

Truly, the absolute most astonishing part is this story is that I, the recipient of the letter, was actually sitting there as the postman came!

Another amazing moment yesterday:

Last evening I was at La Vittoria for dinner (and most of you know this is my other favorite eatery) where I often go on Monday evenings. The place was packed – all outside tables and tables in both inside rooms. Claudio found a table for me and all was well.

At a certain point, having ordered dinner, I was checking email on my phone and, sensing a presence, looked to my right and saw the smiling face of a darling little girl with beautiful eyes and lovely long hair! I spoke to her in both Italian and English and she continued to smile and then turned around as she heard her parents call her. I turned and smiled back at them.

Minutes later, Claudio came to tell me the parents and little girl recognized me from a meeting at La Vittoria two years ago!

As they were leaving, the family came to my table, Lisa remaining by my side the whole time (it was very noisy and I hope I heard her name correctly). I so wanted to put her on my lap! Her father reminded me that two years earlier, when she was just over two years old, they were in Rome for a number of days as she had a health issue and was to be checked out at Bambin Gesu pediatric hospital, located on Janiculum Hill above the area where La Vittoria is. They were staying in a hotel near the restaurant at the time and had most of their meals at LV.

Over the years, I’ve met many such families at La Vittoria whose children were being treated at Bambin Gesu and who stayed in nearby hotels or convents and ate at LV because the prices are right and the staff ever so friendly.

Last night, Lisa’s father – I forgot to ask his name as I was so astonished at the encounter! – reminded me that two years ago our tables were next to each other and I had started a conversation, drawn by their darling child. I had also answered questions they had about the neighborhood, the Vatican, etc., as LV is literally in the shadows of Vatican City. He said: “you really made our evening. You had such concern for our Lisa and told us so many stories that it was a happy evening. It is wonderful to meet again!” I so wish I had taken a photo or two!.

Lisa is back in town for more checkups at Bambin Gesu. She was admitted to the hospital today and my first thought this morning was a prayer for this beautiful young lady. I’ll try to see her parents again and get a health update.

You never know when you start a conversation where it will eventually go! I’ve had many unforgettable and serendipitous encounters over the years – meetings and friendships that started in a restaurant with a few words, perhaps even “Could you pass the olive oil?”