Since Mary and I have been to the audience before and have had front row seats; we elected to get some extra sleep this morning and go just before it starts. Wrong move; the place was packed solid and we had to worm our way in just to get a decent place to stand and watch a monitor. Photos were taken with my camera held as high over my head as my arms would reach. Out of about fifty photos
The system has changed in that where they used to have several different colored tickets indicating the section that you were allowed to find seats; there are only two colors: Red allows you to be up on the stage (there are very few of these) and brown which allows you into the seating area period. So there are about six thousand of the brown tickets! Much more democratic than before or shall we say equal opportunity!
After Pope Francis gave his speech Mary was ready to go; it was extremely warm in the bright sunshine and the crowds were somewhat oppressive. I arranged with the girls where I would meet up with them and then headed out towards the bus with Mary. We walked to the bus #40 stop and she got on board with a seat and I waved goodbye to her about 11:15 am. She was on the express bus with only a few stops that would take her back to Termini and then only a short walk to our Hostel.
I caught the # 64 bus which took me back to the edge of St. Peter’s and walked to the designated meeting area. The Audience was still going on and I sent a text to Jane that I was back and would wait for them just outside of the Piazza. It took us forty-five minutes to reconnect. Thank goodness for cell phones, five phone calls and we finally met at the center of the colonnades directly in front of St. Peter’s. There were thousands of people and they inched out of the Piazza and spilled out into the Piazza Pio XII; all heading for lunch.
It was after one o’clock when we arrive; spent some time in the Piazza enjoying the three famous fountains and the ambience of the very old area that has maintained the oval shape from the Roman times when they raced chariots around a track in this same space. The most famous of the three fountains is the Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini. This is the first time that I have not seen some portion of either the buildings or fountains covered in netting for cleaning and/or repairs over the past fifteen years. Nice to see it as it was intended. The girls picked up some artwork and then we went off to a restaurant that we’d seen on the way in, Ponte e Parione, on a street that circles the Piazza. Coffee and a delicious Greek Salad and some free Wi-Fi where I finally reached Mary. Her phone wasn’t working (discovered later I didn’t put the 00 in front of the French numbers in my Italian phone) so we’d called the Hostel and they’d let her know that we were all together again. I found an email from her so knew that she was back in the Hostel resting for tomorrow’s adventure.
The Church Saint Louis des Frances (of the French). A beautiful baroque church that has a very special chapel where the three paintings were done by a very young twenty-nine year old Caravaggio. The paintings are called “The Calling of St. Matthew”. Took many photos for Jim as Caravaggio is one of his favorite painters and he’s specifically asked us to visit this church for him as it was closed the last time we were in Rome.
From there to the Pantheon to see the hole in the ceiling of the oldest building that has been used continuously as a church in Rome. The construction of the dome has inspired the many domes over Europe since it was built over two thousand years ago. There is still a church inside of the building; the Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyrs. Just around the corner we found the “best coffee shop” per Rick Steves in Rome; the Tazza D’Oro. Enjoyed my second cappuccino of the day and then it was off to find the Rick Steves’ recommended best gelato shop in Rome: Giolitti.
Some type of protest that was drawing the media. There were two newsmen doing reports in front of the building. Many policemen and politicians in black suits milled about the Piazza. We circled around and continued a block to the famous Giolitti for a gelato. The shops was packed solid with nuns, young people, business suits and many tourists. The kids were getting the biggest cones I’ve ever seen. They were teaming up and four of them would get one cone with four or five scoops of gelato with a spoon for each of them! Lots of fun to watch them decide which flavors to put into their cone. I enjoyed a double scoop of Lemoncilo; delicious!
Back past the Parliament building and through the Piazza Colonna with the tall spire that tells a story of mankind if you know how to read the sculptures that spiral up towards the top. We were headed for Trevi Fountain as we enjoyed our gelato cones…well I did…the girls had their gelato in cups. Along the way we stopped to buys some postcards. Love the one with Pope Francis and a white dove. Then we stopped again to watch one of the street artists as he entertained as he painted with a flair of whipping cans of aerosol paint to add color to his canvas that was taped to the street. He has to be on a continual high as the odor was pervasive in the air around him!
Packed solid with people the girls had to give their coins a big toss to make sure they hit the water as they made a pledge to return to Rome again. Bonnie said she first tossed a coin here when she was twenty-one years old; I won’t tell you how many years ago but it’s definitely been a few.
Down the few blocks to Spanish Steps and then over to the nearby Metro for a rush-hour ride home; the Metro is always packed but this was “really packed”. Home to Mary at the Hostel about 7 pm. We enjoyed a veggie dinner downstairs; they offer dinner in the Hostel three nights a week. Very tasty.
And another day comes to a close. Hope you enjoy the slideshow: