Day 16: Pizza and the Pope

I just spent about 20 minutes trying to take a picture of the city lights from my balcony.

I'm not sure it really went as expected. But I'll still post it for posterity sake tomorrow maybe.

Today I did everything that I had "planned" to do. It was a really great day of moving at my own speed, not rushing to anything, and seeing a bit of living history. I've been in Rome for three days now and I feel as though every day I've seen it a little bit differently.
Day 1 = hectic and very touristy. crowds galore. gave up on hotel maps, caved to google.
Day 2 = more relaxed. tried a new neighborhood. learned how challenging cabs are.
Day 3 = balanced between crowds and quiet.

There were some really great moments today, which in turn make it a great last full day in Italy. I'm not sure that I've been "accepted" here after only a few weeks but I will say I make a far more polite and acceptable tourist than some that I've seen. Highlights of today? An older Italian man squeezed my hand and I informed another tourist about an upcoming train strike. I'm like a pro at that now.

Back to the Vatican
My original schedule didn't have me in Rome during either of the "Pope viewing occasions", so I was a bit ill-prepared for the hullabaloo that surrounds this stuff. I wasn't able to get a ticket for mass so that meant I was just supposed to show up by noon in St Peter's Square.

But, I obviously didn't believe anyone that told me an hour was enough time in advance. So I was there  two and a half hours in advance ... and while it was a tad bit excessive, I'm glad I was there.

The sky was so blue at points while I was there that it was perfect for some pictures that I didn't get yesterday. Win and win. Plus, I met this couple Roberto and Luisa who spoke like no English. We traded picture taking sessions and then they offered me some gum. They didn't know what I meant when I said "Boston" so I had to show them on Google Maps.
So in the 2 hours that I spent standing in pretty much one spot, I observed the significantly growing crowd and was thankful I was there early. Some woman in a Canadian tuxedo definitely didn't understand the meaning of "excuse me" and personal space or the concept of not bumping into people.

But, during that time Luisa and Roberto practiced their English on me... and I met this adorbs old man next to me. I love old Italian men. I think he wanted me to take a picture for him with his phone (which was a Razor by the way) but I couldn't figure it out. So then we just smiled at each other. When it approached noon, he pointed at his watch showing me that it was getting close and I said "si, mezzogioro!" and he LOVED IT. 

This is me creepily taking a picture with him and him not knowing it.

But, then the Pope appeared and people went nuts. Lots of chanting and flag waving and celebration. It was really quite neat to be there. A completely different experience from going to mass in the States. I'd love to try and find a transcript of what he was actually saying because I have very little idea - but people seemed to be really engaged and responding when he asked the crowd things.

 Lunch in Piazza Varona
When I first ended up in Piazza Verona the other day, I really liked it. It was a big open space and seemed to offer some good people watching and eating options - albiet touristy for sure. I'm no dummy.  But, the walk over from the Vatican was largely in the sun and I barely needed a map. VICTORY.
 As you can see I'm still in love with doors and looking up at the sky. No news there.

I picked the place for lunch largely because they had Free Wifi and I had some videos I wanted to send. I was actually really hoping to FaceTime but then I remembered it was about 8 am and nobody was really awake. So, then I sat there for almost two hours (?), ate my pizza, and drank my wine.

Not complaining. It was perfect.

Best moment
After lunch I figured, I would just slowly wander my way up to Piazza Barberini for the hotel shuttle. I knew that there were some cute, quiet streets on the way up/across/down/whatever. Yesterday I had asked Alex how many churches were there in Rome. Answer = 700 (or 900 if you believe Wikipedia). So, when I happened to stumble upon one with its doors open it wasn't shocking.

But something compelled me to walk inside. Like I've said a million times, every church here is different. This one was obviously smaller, but also lighter in architecture and beautiful light colors as well.
As I walked in and stood there, a priest popped out quietly doing whatever it is that he does in between masses. We exchanged a quiet bonjourno and I walked up to light a candle. As I was standing there contemplating how many candles I had lit in Italy, the priest came over to me and reached his hand through the bars with his palm facing down. Being as I speak zero Italian, I just extended my hand right back and he dropped a warm beautiful red rosary in my hand and walked away as I said Gratzi.
I can't even describe the moment well enough. It was so amazing and the rosary smells like rosewood or something else phenomenal.

The rest of the day?
I didn't get back to the hotel until about 5, so there wasn't much time left unused for outdoor swimming. I figured I got my fill of that the other day. So I just split the time between sitting on my balcony and reading and out by the pool drinking prosecco. Terrible right?

If you've ever been to my apartment you know how not amazing my bathroom is. So, I was not missing the last opportunity to take a luxurious deep bath. While the hotel doesn't give you bubble bath, the Salvatore Ferragamo shampoo makes an excellent substitute. I'll have to send them a note on that.

Tomorrow? I'm leaving Italy. I'm not sure what I learned about cooking or wine while I was here but I did learn other things that I'll be taking back with me. In addition, I'm trying to figure out how many empty glass bottles I can reasonably take with me. If the TSA is letting people bring small knives now, I should be cool to bring a few empty glass bottles.

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