Let’s take a day off today from the the fighting about local clergy and allow me to regail you about the night a senior Roman cleric entertained myself and my priest friend to a mean in one of Rome’s finest hosteleries.

I had never met the cleric in question. He was a friend of the priest I was travelling with.

My friend had said: “We must look up my friend Xxxxxx in Rome. He might meet us for a coffee”.

The day we got to Rome my friend rang him and told him we were in town and suggested a meet for a coffee. But the Roman would have none of it. He insisted he would take us to dinner – as his treat.

We were staying in a humble Airbnb in a Roman back street. The Roman said he would call for us – and he did in a BMW limo

Here is a picture of the chauffeur. Sorry for the angle. I had to remove my priest friend and the Roman from the pic.

He announced to us that he had a little surprise for us  I thought we might be getting a couple of minutes with Francis.

But no, we entered a delightful small square in Rome and pulled up outside a restaurant called Pierluigi.

I was about 9 pm and was packed. Our friend has no reservation but said he was friends with the owners. When the manager saw our Roman host he was effusive and brought us to what turned out to be the Roman’s favourite table.

Without any request the Sommelier arrived with the Roman’s favourite Prosecco- which was beautiful.

The menu came. It was as big as a book. The Roman told us to have exactly what we wanted.

As we entered in I noticed a massive fish counter. Everything was on it including four kinds of lobster – including Maine lobster flown in fresh from the USA.

The Roman and my priest friend had several starters of exotic seafood from the fish counter.

I had

Salmon Tartar at euro 23

Fillet steak in a lovely sauce at euro 32

Tiramisu Pierluigi at euro 23.

The other two gentlemen went to town on two types of lobster, clams, oysters etc – a feast befitting Poseidon.

I had red wine. They had white. I did not count the bottles.

There was a desert wine.

Then there were the coffees and the liquers.

The liquer recommended by the Roman was BERTA CASALOTTO ACQUAVITE DI VINO.

Apparently it is a highly regarded grappa with alpine herbs?

I priced it at £ 100 a bottle when I got home.

The bill came. It was horrific !  It looked like euro 600 +

I wanted to contribute the euro 70 my food had cost and a bit more towards a tip.

The Roman would not hear tell of any such contribution.

He smiled and said something in Italian to my friend which I didnt hear. Afterwards my friend told me he had said “i penny di Peter” – Peter’s Pence.

The owner arrived and sat with us for a while and insisted on another BERTA

We were dropped off at our Airbnb in the limo.

So that’s how some Roman’s live, at least some of the time.

To hell with the auld Sherbourne and its pretentious Saddle Room – where some senior Dublin clerics hang out with fawning seminarians.