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Patsy Shelhamer and son Cory take a seven day 'Trip of the Month' to Rome, Italy


October 9, 2019

There are plenty of worthy charitable organizations in North Central Montana that raise funds for their individual causes in a variety of ways. One popular way is a 'Trip of the Month'. In this particular way an organization sells a limited number of tickets for a set price. Tickets are sold in advance of the upcoming new year with a winner being drawn each month. Trips range from professional sporting events, NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball for example. Others may include remarkable getaways within the state of Montana or even beach getaways to tropical locations like Cancun, Mexico or Hawaii. Some even include historical locations overseas in Europe and the Mediterranean.

One local charitable organization, The Northern Montana Hospital Health Care Foundation offers a 'Trip of the Month' to help raise money for their individual causes. Patsy Shelhamer of Harlem was the winner of one of those trips, and with her son Cory, who resides in Malta, traveled to Rome, Italy for a week long excursion. The following is a recount written by Patsy about her trip with Cory.

My son Cory and I experienced an incredible journey to the "Eternal City" of Rome, Italy. I lost my Husband shortly before I learned that I had won the trip to Italy, so I felt truly blessed for the opportunity to travel to Europe with my son.

As we entered the city we were immediately amazed by the architecture of the massive buildings which house apartments on the top floors and eateries, shops, businesses, and family run deli's below. Roman Italians are known for their sense of style in Italy's glamorous capital city. It was impressive to see the well-tailored and fashionable dressed people.

Italians are not heavy breakfast eaters. They will have espresso with pastries. It baffles them to think of eggs, sausages, and toast for breakfast. It is common to have a mid-morning snack. Most shops will close for lunch break between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.. Because of this lunch break during the day, it is not uncommon to close their shops around 7:00 p.m. and eat their supper meal around 8/9:00 p.m.

Eating in Rome at a restaurant was an interesting experience. You won't see a water glass, coffee cup, or salt and pepper on the table. You order water, which comes in a bottle. It is then opened and poured for you. They do not serve tap water and coffee is served at the end of the meal.

The typical way of serving a meal is in courses. You are not obligated to order each course, but order to your liking. A typical starter consists of olives, cheeses, and salamis. First course would be pasta, second course is meat or a seafood option. A vegetable side dish will come served on a separate plate. By eating this way, it allows for the flavors of each course to be appreciated individually. Impressive desserts are also offered. You pay for each course you order so a meal can be quit pricey.

Cory and I enjoyed three group guided tours while in Rome. We began with the Vatican. Here we began our walk through the Vatican Museums. The museums houses more than twenty centuries of history, art, sculptures, and private collections of Popes.

The walk continued through enormous halls where we viewed ancient collections of the Valley of Maps, painted between 1580-1585, representing the Italian regions. The next hall houses the Gallery of Tapestries. Tapestry was a skillful textile tradition dating 1400-1600. They provided a form of insulation and decoration and could be easily transported.

We then passed through the Raphael Rooms. Here there are four interconnected rooms that the public is allowed to view. These are the original apartments of Pope Julius II (1503-1513). Raphael's themes were religion and politics.

Saint Peters Basilica is the symbolic heart of the Catholic Church. It is believed to be built over the burial place of the Apostle Peter. It is adorned with the greatest architecture of the Renaissance and Baroque time period.

Last on this tour was the Sistine Chapel. It is considered the crown jewel, famous for Michaelangelo's phenomenal ceiling of last judgment. Many of his paintings were done in Fresco, which is a method of mural painting. This process uses earth pigments mixed with water and applied to plaster. Appropriate dress is required when visiting and no pictures are allowed. Visitors are to remain silent when observing these paintings.

A culinary food tour was enjoyed while learning the history of Roman food and sampling traditional Italian favorites. The tour started with an outside market where locals sell their fresh produce and wares. Romans typically buy their produce, bread, and other food daily for their meals.

Walking on cobbled streets of the Trastevere neighborhood, we enjoyed salamis, buffalo mozzarella cheese, and crispy thin crust rectangular pizza, which is cut in quadrilateral squares and sold by weight.

These are small family-run shops supported by the locals. Walking through the Jewish Ghetto community, we tried artichokes, fried risotto balls, and traditional pasta dishes. We ended this tour with a taste of Italy's Ice Cream, "Gelato".

On a third fantastic tour, was a trip to the Colosseum. Built between 72 and 80 AD, it is a massive structure made of stone, concrete, marble, and sand. The Colosseum has 80 entrances and could house 50,000 spectators who were seated by according to rank.

The public would come to watch various forms of entertainment whenever they visited the Colosseum. This venue was in active service for nearly 400 years. Christianity and the gradual change in public taste put an end to these large, gruesome, public entertainments.

Cory and I walked in the actual arena where these spectacles took place. We also toured underground through the numerous rooms and passages where the hundreds of animals and Gladiators were kept.

Included in this tour was the Roman Forum, at the center of the city of ancient Rome. It was home to the Aristocrats and Emperors.

We did a bit of exploring on our own and together we covered approximately 50 miles in our seven day stay. We crossed the Tibris River, visited the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon (The best preserved building, nearly 2,000 years old) and many other historical sites.

Cory and I also climbed the Spanish steps, 138 steps connecting the upper and lower Piazzas, public squares with no traffic. At the bottom Piazza are streets filled with high-end shopping. We browsed through the multitude of stores that featured brands such as Gucci, Armani, Prada, and Cartier to name a few.

One Block away from our hotel was the United States Embassy, which was at one time the Palace of Queen Margherita. The Margherita Pizza is named after her.

In the end it was a fabulous trip for a mother to enjoy with her son!.

Supporting the many worth charitable organizations locally, at the state level or nationally is a great way to help out those in need. Sometimes it's with medical needs, a search for a cure or to help an individual of family overcome sudden tragedy. Sometimes that gesture can be returned with an opportunity like the one Patsy and her son Cory got to enjoy together. Either way it does the heart good to have a charitable mindset.


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