Monday morning I woke up and was dismayed to realize that I was still nauseated from this stomach flu. This was particularly concerning because that evening was our very special grand dinner.
This evening was very exclusive, reserved for the top performing employees in their field, which totaled three field employees and their spouses. Honoring the top performers were each division Vice President and the Senior VP of the company. There were a total of 18 guests, and three times as many staff serving us.
This was a very formal Black Tie event, which meant that I needed to look splendid; fit for a dinner in a Roman Prince’s palace. I decided that it would not be wise to leave hair styling up to me, so I booked an appointment for an udpo at Salon Sistine. I had pinned about 20 updos to Pinterest, but I did not have a Wi-Fi signal at the salon so my hair was left to the mercy of a nice Italian man who did not speak any English. What I wanted for my hair that evening was lost in translation. What he told me he was giving me was something “very very special; a surprise for you” from what I could make out. Uh oh. I was nervous. He flat ironed, ratted, twisted and turned my locks. At one point I had only a low ponytail made with a small portion of my hair in the back. He reassured me in Italian that my hair would improve from there. He pinned and pinned and in the end my hair was very unique. I think it looked pretty but it was very different than what I had in mind. I haven’t been so dolled up in my entire life.
Miraculously, perhaps from divine intervention from Vatican City, my nausea cleared up just before we left for dinner.
We headed out to the car that would drive us to the palace. This is the point that I was the closest I will ever be to feeling like a movie star. As we were headed to the car, some of our company friends came storming out of the doors of the hotel with their cameras, screaming “wait!!” snapping pictures furiously. It was the Italian paparazzi. My wonderful fellow company wives had descended upon us in all of their supportive glory.
We showed up at Palazzo Colonna and I was speechless. Tears sprang to my eyes inspired by gratitude and appreciation for the awe-inspiring art and lavishness before us. Chris’ company had rented out the Palazzo, still lived in by the Prince and his family, who are descendants from one of the oldest families in Roman aristocracy. Palazzo Colonna is the largest, most lavish and royal of all the Roman palaces. The collection of art in this palace is one of the most comprehensive and valuable art collections in Rome.
We were fortunate enough to be able to dine in the dining room that is never granted access to the general public. When I entered this room I can unequivocally say that I have never in my life seen anything so beautiful. The opulence of this dining room was seen at every corner from its magnificent crystal chandeliers to the hundreds of years old hand-painted fresco walls that have never been re-touched. The table was set beautifully decorated with candles and flowers. Again a few tears sprang in to my eyes as I looked around at the room. Dinner came out in a perfectly timed procession of courses. If you have ever seen the movie Babette’s Feast, this evening reminded us of that special night they had in the movie, focused around food, beauty, appreciation and friends. There were many different glasses of wine and champagne at my setting that it was hard to keep track of which one to sip. Our menu consisted of a zucchini and cheese tart starter, a black and white risotto first course, a sea bass and filet with a blueberry sauce for secondi and we finished off with a strawberry sorbet covered in dark chocolate and surrounded by baby strawberries for dessert.
At the end of dinner we headed out through the house to a very large room with chairs and a grand piano. This is where we were given a short presentation on the history of the palace. Then as a surprise, three tenors came out and sang OPERA for us, accompanied by a pianist. Listening to these Italian singers belt out opera sends shivers through my spine right now as I am remembering it. Their voices resonated so loudly and perfectly down the entire hall. I couldn’t help but think of my Gramps, who died when I was 11, and how much he loved opera and what a special treat this would’ve been for him as well.
It was an evening we will not ever forget. I am so proud of my husband for making this possible for us.
Until next time, the Mothership is signing off.