Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trip day the 14th, in which religion happens, and Trip day the 15, in which little happens.

I've bundled them because, to be perfectly frank, the 15th was boring. I phoned people, and lazed around, and desperately tried to calm my mind enough to tan. It didn't work; I was so antsy! There was no shuttle into town, so I thought, "this is a good excuse to stay home."

The fourteenth was spent at San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica to the 'un-italian parloing') It is really spectacular. The pizza is huge, and the line to get in wraps around the piazza, and disappears in minutes. It took me approximately 20 minutes to get from one end, to inside. (security takes a while) I'd gone with some Romanians from the Villa, but as soon as we were inside, I bolted. They were nice, but well, I didn't really want to play tour guide. Michelangelo's La Pieta took my breath away, despite being behind Plexiglass (a hammer wielding maniac damaged it a few years back; they take precautions now)and the statues were magnificent. The first area I really saw however, was the tomb of the popes, including our beloved John Paul II. Even with the reverent quiet, people praying, asking guards in hushed tones if they would touch treasured objects to his grave, which they would, people were still somewhat disrespectful. I saw multiple pictures being taken. But, to me, the most poignant moment came when I found the sanctum of St. Peter himself, where a man was praying with such fervor that I felt I had stepped into another world, invading his planet. The area is perfectly preserved, and commands respect in every foot. (Re-checking my handy book, it seems that some bones were found, confirmed to be St. Peter's and interred in this space) This is holy ground, I can feel it.
However, this holiness doesn't stop me from being a moron. Upon seeing some people exit a stairway, I ask "Questo Via San Pietro?" (Is this the way to St. Peter's?) They offered it was, and I excitedly made my way up the steps, expecting to see the great hall itself (which I had yet to). I found myself behind an alter. Oh crud. Which was all fenced off. Oh crud. Opting not to sully myself and the space by hopping the fence, I hurriedly made my way back down the stairs, and tried to look innocent. Good grief, my luck.

Once I find the hall, it is incredibly breathtaking: The statues, the sarcophagi, the alters, masses being held everywhere, confessionals in every language under the sun. I say a quick prayer in the chapel off to the side, and, after taking some discreet photos in the main hall (which were allowed, I just felt invasive) I returned outside to the beauty of the piazza. Apparently, the cross on the top of the tower in the middle contains a piece of the holy cross which Christ was crucified on. I feel really blessed to be here, and alive, today. I hope you guys feel it too, reading this.

I felt less blessed when I realized I had no Euros on me, and I required 2 to get home. Even less so when the only place in the city that I knew took my Visa, wasn't working because their system was down. Really REALLY less blessed when no shop anywhere would give me even one Euro back off my Visa. I tried for 6 hours.
So was I.

Then a teen came up to me and said, "Are you alright?"

After I stopped bawling I explained that I couldn't get home cause I couldn't buy a bus ticket. He asked how much and I replied, "One Euro and twenty". He said, "A hundred and twenty Euros?" (I could see he was a little nervous because he wanted to help, but good grief, a hundred and twenty Euros!) I replied, "No; One Euro and twenty centissimi." He laughed, and bought me a ticket. We bussed home together (his stop was later then mine) and I gave thanks again for the hand of God in my life.

I also told him that I'd learned my lesson,and would start planning further ahead in the future...

Anyway, I was hoping to get 'day the 16th' up because it has been really exciting, but it looks like it will have to wait. If you would like a sample though, three scenes ought to do it: I'm standing in the Sistine Chapel, I'm eating some strange sort of fish on a pizza (not anchovies...more eel-ish...) and I'm in some random town that isn't Rome, where no-one speaks English.
Not to worry, I am safe at the Villa once more,awaiting my flight tomorrow evening, but it was interesting!
Love everybody!


Anonymous said...

It sounds really beautiful and peaceful. Unfortunately I guess some people would treat it more as just a tourist site than a church. Can't wait to see your pictures and hear all your impressions.
LOL mapa

Kib said...

yay for almost being home!! Can't wait to actually talk to you about your trip, it sounded amazing. Take care, love you!