The extra long lie in was very much appreciated, and when Juliet's cousin Marlon arrived exactly on time - surely this was a good Omen for the day ahead.
We zoomed around to his appartment - which was ironically very close to out hotel, and his wife and daughter - Maria and Joyce also joined us.
The first port of call was Villa Borgese - where there is an art museum as well as a lovely park. Alas the art museum was fully booked, which meant instead a pleasant walk around the park.
Funnyy fountain face
Lovely fountain in the woods
With ever increasing drizzle - we headed off to someplace indoors - which in Rome I think nearly always means a church. Not just any church - the 4th largest in the world apprantly. Specifically the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
It hardly seems fair to compare any place with the Vatican in terms of grandeur or sheer 'wow', but this Basilica does compete. A first it seems a little strange as to why ... until then you realize (someone tells you) that this church is where the Pope also sometime attends - hence the somewhat lavish decorations.
The results are impressive.
After walking around here for a while we moved on... yes to another church.
Basilica Of St. John Lateran
From the outside this was even more impressive. A massive gothic building - build just inside the city walls. For those of you who have been to Manila/York - the city walls in parts of Rome just look the same.
Inside was a massive building - but unlike the previous Basilica it was relatively bare with pictures/gold/ornements.
What we did find was a lovely cloister area - the last one I had recently been in was in Cebu Catherderal - this was slightly larger, and with a fantasic collection of Ancient Roman and more modern (nothing after 1700 !!) pieces of stonework.
All of this walking around churches is hungry work - Marlon very kindly invited us to a Filipino community party. In the Philippines at this time of year it is Fiesta time - and the Filipinos in Rome have a great solution to missing the fun that is going on back at home - they hold their own fiesta.
Each week the community seems to organise a set of events - it really did feel like we were back in Manila or in this case Pampanga.
A quick look at the food selection - the ladies were not happy as I took this at the end of the meal - there had been much much more food !!!
As they say - "It's more fun in the Philippines"
A full list of the photo's used here and plenty of others can be found here