To read this week’s L’Osservatore Roman in English:


For your special enjoyment this weekend, we will visit the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo where Popes John Paul and Benedict vacationed for years but which now is fairly deserted as Pope Francis prefers staying at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Much of the apostolic palace is now (sadly, as far as I am concerned!) a museum!   Castelgandolfo is a lovely town in a beautiful part of Italy, and I have had the incredible good fortune to have visited the papal palace on quite a number of occasions.

The first extended visit was a number of years ago when I was welcomed by the then director of papal villas, Saverio Petrillo, whose book on the papal palace I used to write this story, along with much information he gave me as we spent an afternoon strolling the grounds, the gardens and the pontifical farm!

On several other occasions I spent an entire day in the palace when it hosted the offices, library and classrooms of the papal observatory and offered summer courses in astronomy. Those offices have been transferred to a new location on the papal property but the telescopes are still in the palace.


Given the difficulty (impossibility, to be honest!) for Americans to travel to Italy this summer, I was not even sure I should post this column! And then I thought: We can dream, can’t we! We can all plan future trips to Bell’Italia and enjoy its beauty, people and cuisine. So I decided to give you something to look forward to!

A few days ago I posted some photos of one of my favorite restaurants in Italy, “L’Antica Trattoria” in Sorrento, where I had my arrival dinner on July 27. I returned on August 1 for my farewell dinner. I would easily nominate Aldo and his restaurant for a Michelin star!

Two other incredible restaurants in Sorrento are “O’Parrucchiano” and Circolo dei Forestieri (Foreigners Club) with its large and heavenly terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Both have wonderful menus!

O’Parrucchiano is on Corso d’Italia near Sorrento’s cathedral. It is build on several levels with dining rooms on each level, the top level being the largest and most beautiful by far! The huge, main room can accommodate several hundred people and is completely surrounded by what seems to be a tropical garden – plants, flowers. shrubs and trees of all kinds and sizes, including, of course, Sorrento’s celebrated lemon trees!

I discovered two Americans of Italian descent who have been working here for years! Maria – originally from Boston – will welcome you to O’Parrucchiano and if you are lucky one of your waiters will be Raffaele who hails from Brooklyn. Also ask for Rocco: it was he who introduced me to Maria and Raffaele!

Here are some photos I took on the two evenings I had dinner here –

And more on the website:

Terrazza delle Sirene is the name of the restaurant on the magnificent terrace of the Foreigner’s Club.   You want to sit as close to the railing as possible to get the most out of the stunning views of the Mediterranean, Vesuvius and much more!

I went last Friday for lunch and, given that there were not the usual large late July crowds of tourists, but mainly locals, I had a chance to chat with my young waiter Ciro and met some staff members through him.

The Foreigner’s Club has not only the terrace, which you will now see in my photos, but also a large, very lovely internal dining room. Both terrace and dining room are terrific venues for events like weddings, etc. Hopefully soon large gatherings, happy gatherings like weddings, can once again take place everywhere in the world, not just here!

I have never ever stayed in Sorrento without having a meal on the Terrazza delle Sirene, at Antica Trattoria or O’Parrucchiano!

PS. Any empty tables you see in the photos were filled not long after I arrived for dinner, usually after Mass, about 8pm. Because of the very hot weather, most people came much later for dinner, starting at 8:30, 9 or later.

Their website:



I leave for the US tomorrow to attend a family First Communion so these pages will be blank for a few days. However, I have a few interesting pieces of news today and later will post something that will keep you smiling for days!



I’ve prepared a special for you this weekend for what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider: We are going to visit the shrine so loved by Romans – and visited numerous times by Popes – the shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love.

Pope Francis went there on pilgrimage Tuesday to say the rosary for peace in the world, especially for peace in Syria. The story starts in the 13th century – miraculous events, wonderful stories, historical moments. So tune in this weekend to learn about Divine Love!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: For VI archives:


The Pope continued his weekly general audience catechesis today on the sacrament of Baptism, turning to the blessing of the water, the rejection of Satan and the profession of faith.

“In blessing the water of the baptismal font,” said Francis, “the Church prays that it may become the source of new life in Christ and the cleansing of sin through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After recalling the prophetic prefigurements of baptism in the Old Testament, Jesus’ own baptism in the Jordan, and the water that flowed from his side upon the cross, the prayer of blessing asks God to sanctify the water of the baptismal font, so that, through it, those who are to be baptized may enter into the saving mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection.

He added that, “as a sign of our decision to live this mystery of new and eternal life, we then reject Satan and all his works, and proclaim the Church’s faith in the Triune God. Whenever we bless ourselves with holy water, may we recall with gratitude the gift that we received on the day of our Baptism, and ask for the grace to persevere in our efforts to be conformed more closely to Christ our Savior.”

In greetings to the English-speaking visitors, the Pope mentioned pilgrims from the United Kingdom, India, Thailand, Canada and the United States of America. “In a special way, I greet the members of the Catholic Extension Society of the United States, with gratitude for their contribution to the work of rebuilding in Puerto Rico.”

The Holy Father also blessed a minivan that will be used by Caritas Poland.


As a special treat today, I want to introduce you to a new restaurant I have discovered, an exceptional treat in a city known for exceptional food that I shared with two friends Monday, including Teresa Tomeo.

TERRAZZA BORROMINI, Via Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30. You are actually entering the Hotel Eitch Borromini which, along with the restaurant, is part of the Pamphili Palace on Pza. Navona. As you enter the building, walk to the end of the long corridor and take the elevator to the 4th floor and the Terrazza Borromini restaurant.

The website says it all: The restaurant is in small to medium-sized rooms overlooking Piazza Navona, embellished by Bernini frescoes and framing one of the most precious views of the famous fountains in the square. The outside terrace transports you to another world and, as you dine al fresco, you are so close to the church of Sant’Agnese, you feel you can touch it! (the truly amazing photo of the church dome, the bell tower and the moon was taken by Teresa – she put some photos up as well –

A menu of both Italian classics and innovations, I found prices to be quite reasonable given the surroundings and the view of Pza. Navona. The chef is Francesco Grasso whom many of my readers met when he was at La Scaletta, on the same street.

After dinner. take an elevator to the 5th floor, then a small staircase to the terrace above the terrace restaurant and you will be left breathless by the views of the piazza and all of Rome, as far as the eye can see. A sensational spot for drinks and music and some down time with friends.