I’m very late on this post due to a few factors (1. My host family’s internet has been out since last week due to a snowstorm 2. Been working on the bookkeeping for the Danny Parmertor Memorial Fund Raffle 3. It’s a lot to write!) but I went to Rome on March 11.
I went with one other teacher who is doing the same program that I am – she’s living and teaching in another town about an hour from where I am. I snagged a round trip flight from Turin to Rome for $143, leaving Friday night and returning Sunday night.
I left straight from school on Friday afternoon. Luckily, the airport is very close to where I am living. It was about a twenty-minute train ride from school, on the same line I take every day.
I was curious to see how different flying out of European airports are than flying out of American airports. I can now report to you that the process is identical, other than the fact that you don’t have to take off your shoes, and that you are ID’d at the gate when boarding the plane.
We rented an apartment on AirBnB, which for those of you that don’t know, is a website/app growing in popularity, which allows people to rent out their homes. It’s becoming popular in both the USA and worldwide. We got an apartment near the Coliseum and it was a much better deal than comparable hotels.
I landed in Rome and took the direct train (the “Leonardo Express”) from the airport to the city center. At the main train station, I transferred to the subway and got off at the “Colosseo” station.
I obviously knew I was near the Coliseum, but I still did not expect what I saw as I made my way up the stairs. I exited the station and there it was, right in front of me. My very first sight of Rome was the best sight, and I had to stop for a few minutes to admire.
Also of note was the moderate temperature. In Northern Italy where I am living, it was still quite cold, but in Rome, I got my first breaths of wonderful spring air. I also noticed many of the trees had leaves on them, which is still not the case up North. It was wonderful.
I walked a short distance up a hill to our apartment. It was a one bedroom with a pullout couch in the living room. Dani, my friend, and I went out for a quick pizza and also to the supermarket to buy some food – since we had a kitchen. We decided to go to bed early, because we wanted to make the most of our Saturday, the only full day we’d have in the City.
In the morning, we decided the first priority would be the Vatican. I wondered if the Pope was in town and so I went to their website. It turned out he was giving an “audience” that very morning in St. Peter’s Square! The website said that tickets were required to enter the square, so we didn’t know exactly what would happen. We decided to head over there and see.
The Vatican is about a ten-minute walk from the nearest subway station, and there were lots of people the whole way. We didn’t know what awaited us at the square. But as we got closer and closer, the crowd of people came into view. Luckily, there was an area outside the gated area where you could still gather and see the Pope. So, I saw the Pope. He was tiny, but I saw him.
In the next picture, Pope Francis is dead center. He’s harder to see because he’s wearing white, but he’s between the priests wearing black.
His audience was not a proper mass. He says a few words and they are translated into at least a dozen languages by a few priests who were sitting beside him. We were a bit too far to hear everything clearly, but he blessed the crowd and he said it extends to all friends and family. So congratulations, you’ve been blessed!
After the Pope went inside, we made our way over to the Vatican Museums, which house the Sistene Chapel. More on that later.