Americans on a bus – Rome Day 5

Our last day in Rome and I’m sure it will be awesome (or not…)  We are all ready for a change of scenery.

The day started out well enough.  The plan was to visit St. John Lateran, one of the 4 major basicallas of Rome (the others being St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major (see Day 2) and St. Paul Outside the Walls (more on that later).  It was mentioned by our priest that there was a Capuchin museum near the Metro stop we were headed to and it might be worth a stop.  Who doesn’t like a side trip??  If you are not familiar the Capuchins are an order of monks.  I’m not sure how exactly to describe the museum.  The first part is regular, run of the mill museum stuff – history of the order, famous monks, etc.  And then you get to the main attraction.  Back in the day it seems that these monks were not receiving proper burials due to the land constraints in Rome so one of the monks went and collected all of the bones of the buried friars and made artwork with them.  No pictures allowed but it was unlike anything I had ever seen.  Check out the webiste www.cappucciniviavento.it

We then headed to St. John Lateran.  The popes lived at this basicalla until the 1700’s and it was quite beautiful.  They claimed to be offering tours of the papal apartments on the hour.  I decided to check it out but could never quite find the right door to enter and none of the security guards spoke English (yeah, right…)  At this point the group was splitting off into different activities for the afternoon.

One group was going to check out the catacombs and one group was going to see more churches.  I had enough underground ruins during the Scavi tour and, truth be told had seen enough churches (there are still more to come in Assisi and Lourdes).  I was tempted by the church group because they were headed to St. Paul Outside the Walls, the 4th and final major basicalla.  They were also going to a church which has Oscar Romero’s bible but decided to my own thing.

I went in search of the yarn/underwear store I had found online.  I took a bus back to our hotel area and the following transpired.  Family of Americans gets on bus, mom & dad & 2 kids who are about 12 and 14.  Dad is Joe Tourist with his bus map and explanation of the plan.  They will get off the bus two stops after the Colosseum and head to the Pantheon where Boy wants to go.  Mom pipes up that Girl wants to eat at, wait for it, McDonald’s before the Pantheon.  At this point they are sidetracked because we are driving right next to the Colosseum and Dad is desparately searching for stops on the other side of the road so they can take this bus back there later (you know, because buses only run one way in Rome and who wants to see the Colosseum?).  I am now pretending I don’t understand a lick of English because these people are right out of European Vacation!  However it did make for an entertaining bus ride!!

Back to the yarn store search.  I got off the bus and was tired, hungry, and thirsty and there in front of me was the Roman version of a mall!  Number 1 travel rule: malls are always a savior, they have whatever you are looking for – climate control, food, drink, bathrooms, somewhere to sit.  So I sat, had some lunch and studied my map.  If you can track down a Rome bus map they actually have a very reliable bus system but it is tricky getting that elusive map…

I took a bus and found the street but never found the store.  It was kind of sad but was okay because I found an amazing market that had everything you could want (I figured out later it was the Campo D’Fiore market which was on Amanda’s list).  I near Piazza Navonna and had missed it one night so I headed that way.  Also, a woman I knit with had highly recommended the gelato bomb at a cafe in this piazza and it was definitely time for a gelato break!  The piazza was beautiful and the gelato bomb delicious! (Unfortunately the picture is on my camera so I can’t post 😦 )  With all that done it was time for a siesta!

We headed out for our last dinner in Rome and it was very nice, and close to the hotel!  After dinner the “kids” wanted a last night at the Trevi Fountain and we adults wanted gelato and bed because the train is leaving at 7:58 in the morning for Assisi.

Rome was great but I am ready to move on.  It is very busy and very crowded and very exhausting.  I feel that I saw everything I came to see and do not feel any great need to go back.  I am happy I came and am happy to be going!

When Modern Times Meet Ancient Times – Rome Day 3

It’s 4th of July back home which is a non-event here.  I did see a few restraunts in the tourist areas offering “4th of July” specials but no fireworks here.  I start with a short ode to America: America oh I miss your smooth paved sidewalks, your overly air conditioned buildings and the clear separation of sidewalk and street.

Now, about our day.  We started wtih 8am mass in the Irish Chapel in the Vatican Grotto.  The Grotto is just one floor beneath the floor of St. Peter’s.  Our pastor was able to reserve a chapel and as luck would have it we got the Irish one.  When you arrive at St. Peter’s at 7:30 in the morning you see a lot of things the average tourist who wanders in at 10am will miss.  First, there are many side altars throughout the first floor and there was a mass, in some language, going on in almost every one of them.  A few of them the only person attending was the priest saying the mass.  There are also religious of all sorts – nuns, priests, monks, you name it scurrying everywhere.  I saw habits and religious garb I have not seen anywhere else.  I was told we did not request a side altar because those require the priest to keep his back to the people attending.  We had to wait on the main level until our priest, escorted by a Vatican altar boy, came to get us and lead us to the chapel.  In the Grotto there are a large number of these small chapels and again masses of all languages were taking place.

We found ours and prepared for mass.  I generally do readings at our church at home and offered to do the reading.  Here’s where things get a little weird.  Our priest hands me his iPad with the day’s reading on it.  So I’m reading in a church that is hundreds and hundreds of years old but I’m reading from an iPad.  I’m pretty sure the early church never saw that coming!  It was a beautiful mass and we were so lucky that we were able to celebrate it.  And, while it was way early in the morning it was a great time to see St. Peter’s alive with the work of the church and not with the work of tourists.

The day before I had a few minutes to spend in the church but by the time I got in I was exhausted and the Vatican does not provide seating so I checked it out but knew we would be back the next day.  When we finished mass a number of the group headed to climb the cupola which was something I was going to pass on given that even with an elevator it still required you to climb 350 stairs.  So I spent my time exploring St. Peter’s in the relative calm of the early morning.  By the time I left it was becoming quite crowded and by the time we left Vatican City it was a zoo!  TIP – always go early, it’s a much more enjoyable experience.  There are really no words to describe the awe and wonder one feels while standing in St. Peter’s.

After the cupola climbers finished we met up for our 12:45 reservation at the Vatican Museum which is the only way to the see the Sistene Chapel.  Being both a conclave fan and a Dan Brown fan I was quite excited to see it.  I had heard it gets crowded in the summer but nothing could ever prepare me for the crowds we faced.  It was a nightmare!  Even the people on the trip who had been there before said they had never seen crowds like the one we were in.  It was wall to wall people from the entrance all the way to the Chapel, and that’s a long way (especially considering we passed at least 3 souvenier stands on the way to the chapel and there was no A/C)!  I can understand the pickpocket issue as there is no way the guards can track what’s going on in there.  And, while I thought it was very cool to be in the place where the conclaves take place and, don’t get me wrong, the artwork is amazing I think all of the artwork I’ve seen the last few days has been amazing.  We stayed for a few minutes and then fought our way back out and headed straight for the cafeteria where I would have paid an obscene amount of money for a cold water but luckily only had to pay $1.50.

We left and headed for a couple of churches on our list.  These included the Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Gesu and St. Ignatius, a little Jesuit heavy there at the end.  Three things stand out from these visits.  One – at Santa Maria Minerva there were two little girls signing Ave Maria while we were there and it was adorable.  Two (this is a big one) – we heard there was a “show” at Gesu at 5:30  and it was getting close to 5:00 as we headed there so we decided to stay.  Best decision so far!!  St. Ignatius of Loyola is buried at this church in this awful, huge, gawdy tomb and above the tomb is a painting.  At 5:30 they begin to play music and then a story is told (don’t ask me what, I know no Italian) and as it goes on the colors in the painting start to change and eventually the painting is slowly lowered down into the wall revealing a giant golden statute of St. Ignatius himself.  Words cannot describe the tackiness of this show and if anyone ever questions where the Jesuits get their egos from you can just look to the start.  I’m hoping to find a clip of it on YouTube and link it up, it’s that good.  I think it lasted about 20 minutes.  I knew it was getting especially awful when I looked over and saw our pastor videoing it with his iPad…  Three – I did not actually see the inside of St. Ignatius because I had to find a bathroom which are hard to find and honestly, I had seen enough at Gesu to last me a awhile!

After all that we grabbed some dinner and headed back to the hotel since we had an early start everyone was ready for an early night in bed!

P.s. I promised a picture of the St. Ignatius extravaganza when I had working wifi so here it is!

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7 Minutes

I have 7 minutes to kill before my last work appointment before vacation so I figured I would do a quick post.  I agreed to this meeting on the Saturday before my 3 week journey a couple of weeks ago and now I’m wondering why I did that???  I’ve got all kinds of things to pack, organize, wash and prepare but here I sit in a Panera.  That’s okay, I know when this is done I will not have to bother with that pesky day job for 3 weeks and that will be awesome!!

Plans are in high gear at this point.  The floods in Lourdes have subsided but have left behind much destruction so we are unsure what we will find when we arrive.  At this point it does not appear we will get to see Pope Francis which is a huge disappointment but we are saying novenas around the clock that he will hold an audience on Wednesday (and if you have a moment join in!!)

Plane leaves Monday afternoon and by Tuesday lunchtime I should be enjoying the beautiful eternal city of Rome!!

Countdown!

I just finished my last project before vacation!  It’s the Glacerie shawl by Hilary Smith Callis.  I used the Elesbeth Lavold Silky Wool which was just delightful to work with.  I discovered the pattern browsing the popular patterns on Ravelry and am now in love with many of Hilary’s patterns.

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Now the countdown on is until I leave for Italy and France on July 1st.  I hate to start a new project before leaving and I already have my travel project ready to go.  There is much work to do for the trip.  If anyone has favorite yarn stores in Paris and/or Rome leave me a comment.  I’ve learned from other trips over the pond that I mostly find the same yarns I can find here in the States but you never know what you may find and I’m willing to go searching!