Sunday (Rome) –
What a highlight – we got blessed by the Pope this morning! We were joined by a few thousand other people, but it was no less thrilling.
A Papal Audience
We had heard that the Pope appeared each Sunday in his apartment window and offered a blessing. We live in the neighborhood so thought we’d check it out.
I thought this seemed a little too good to be true, but as we approached we saw crowds of people hurrying toward St. Peter’s Square with us. And when we turned the corner – thousands (maybe tens of thousands) – all lined up and waiting.
I had studied the map so knew where the apartment was to make sure we were facing the right direction. A few minutes later, a tiny figure in white appeared in the window above the flag and waved. The crowd went wild. They had Pope Francis broadcast on video screens, too, so everyone could clearly see. He prayed and blessed everyone (in Italian) and even called on what looked like several school groups who cheered as he said their names. Truly amazing. I thought how inspiring that so many thousands of people would line up to see a religious figure, just like he was a rock star. It was a wonderful start to our trip.
The Lay of the Land
We also had a tour of the city to get our bearings. We used a company (The Roman Guy) that specializes in small group tours – there were 6 of us. They drove us all over so that we could get a good overview and know where to go back. We got out in several places as well – like a private hop-on bus.
The tour was 3 hours, and we saw a LOT. Our favorites –
Covered in flowers – and people!
Undergoing restoration, but Frank and I still threw three coins over our shoulders. One coin means you’ll come back to Rome, two means you’ll find love, and three means you’ll have a happy marriage. (No one else in our group wanted to join in, but as newlyweds, we weren’t taking any chances!)
Former scene of chariot races, with the ancient imperial palace overlooking the tracks.
Incredibly preserved and supposedly “mathematically perfect” building that has stood since 120 AD, with only light coming from hole in the top. The floor is sloped because it rains in. Supposedly the inspiration for the Duomo in Florence – also the burial place of Raphael.
We went up to Capitoline Hill for spectacular views of the ancient temples and buildings uncovered. We will go back later this week for a real tour down in the Forum itself.
Early Morning Vatican Tour (before opens to public)