Angela's – Week 4: La Settimana Quatro Category
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
On Sunday we headed to the Vatican to meet up with our Swiss Guards and gather around with hundreds of other people from all over the world in St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s Blessing. I can finally say that I’ve seen the Pope now. It was such a wonderful experience. He spoke in so many different languages and I could understand most of his Italian and all of his Englih, haha. It was really neat when he would greet people from different countries in their native languages and then little groups of people would start to cheer and you would know where they were from. Such a wonderful man, the Pope is. I truely felt blessed to be in his presence.
After our lovely afternoon with the Pope, we went to lunch with our Swiss Guards at a little restaurant near the Vatican. They wined and dined us with a million course meal. I finally ate a meal true Italian style. There was so much to choose from and everything was sooo delicious. After lunch, we all walked around for a little bit together and ended up at the Spanish Steps. It was a great day!
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Saturday!! The Olympics!!
I had my first experience on a night train. (Hopefully, those kind of experiences are limited.) We arrived in Torino bright and early in the morning. We had our first encounter with a super-fan as we got off the train. We decided to head towards the main square in Torino to see what action was going on there. I think we saw Ricky Martin practicing for the concert later that night…at least that’s what I’m standing by. We ran into some more die-hard fans and got our picture taken with them.
Then we made our way to the Olympic Super Store, as girls would, and found a million and one Olympic souveniers.
We headed down to the Po River. It is a pretty big river, optimal for kodak moments.
We found some gigantic Olympic mascots and got our picture taken with them as well.
The Olympic Torch!! The Eternal Flame!! Wow!! I was pretty amazed by the torch. It really felt like we were at the Olympics!! We saw a ticket booth and checked into getting tickets to an event. We were really close to going to a hockey game, but they couldn’t garauntee that we would get to sit together, so we opted to continue walking around instead.
At this point in time, it had been rainy for a while and we were all getting pretty hungry, so we went to the center of Torino and began our search for food. This was no easy task. The native of Torino strictly observe the afternoon siesta tradition. Being that it was a little after 3:00 in the afternoon, we couldn’t find anywhere to eat!! It is not a good situation when you have a group of tired and hungry girls. Fortunately McDonalds came to the rescue. Never in my live have I been happier to find a McDonalds. There always there for you when you need them. Our experience would be a great advertisement for them. Anyway, we wasted away the afternoon there, rested a little bit, and then our way back out into Torino.
As the sun went down, the people of Torino came out and the place was packed!! Earlier it was a ghost town and later it turned into a circus. It was lots of fun walking around. The streets were all decorated with lights. The concert was going on and we could hear it and see a little bit of it as we walked around. We found the spot were the Today Show is filmed. We danced a litte and made merry.
It was tons of fun! Our great Olympic adventure finally culminated and we headed back to the train station for our trip back to Rome.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Friday!! Friday the 17th! According to local Romans, Friday the 17th to Italians is like Friday the 13th to Americans. Unfortunately, I feel like we learned that the hard way. Giuliangela, Alexandra, Christine, and I got up early and headed off towards the Vatican in hopes of going to the Vatican Museum and seeing the Sistine Chapel. Apparently, God had other plans in mind for us. First of all, I need to explain something about the public transportation in Rome, specifically the bus system. Everybody buys one or two tickets for the bus at the beginning of the semester with no intention of validating their ticket (making your ticket good for an hour and a half) with the knowledge that no one on our program has been asked to show their validated ticket to anyone. Unfortunately, it is not always best to be first. I’ve learned that it is just our luck to be the ones who are caught on the way to the Vatican without validated tickets and forced to pay a fifty euro fine! And then to top things off, the Sistine Chapel will of course be closed already when we finally arrive at the Vatican. Oh Mio Dio! As Aldous Huxley said, “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” So, what do girls do when they are tired, hungry, lacking fifty euro, and without the Sistine Chapel? They go to Paschucci’s to grab a bite to eat, throw salt over their shoulders, and hope that everything happens for a reason.
Since we were up and ready to do some serious site-seeing, Giuliangela took us to St. John Lateran Basilica. It is the Mother Church and the Cathedral of the Pope. On the front there is an inscription that reads, “Sacrosancta Lateranenis ecclesia omnuium Urbis et Orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.” Obviously, this reminds all of us that the Lateran is the foremost of all churches in Rome and on Earth. Personally, I think that it is sooo BEAUTIFUL and sooo AMAZING!! It might be the most spectacular Basilica. There is definetely a plethora of history from artwork to tombs to tradition. There is no doubt that the presence of God is alive in spirit there.
As if we didn’t already feel spiritually satisfied after spending time in the amazing Basilica of St. John Lateran, we decided to visit the Holy Staircase. Wow!! I understand why pilgrims from all over the world come here. Apparently, the Holy Staircase is the marble steps that Jesus climbed on his way to trial on the day of his Passion. The Scala Pilati are said to be stained with the blood of Christ and brought from Jerusalem to Rome by Constantine’s mother. There are 28 stairs to climb. You are supposed to kneel down and say a pray, give a confession, and ask for blessings for the Pope and the Church at every step and only climbing on your knees to the top. At the top of the Holy Staircase is the old papal Chapel which contains several relics. There is an inscription that reads, “Non est in toto sanctior Orbe locus, ” which means no place in the world is holier than this. It was a really amazing experience to climb to the top of the stairs while praying and confessing the whole way up. At the top, Giuliangela, Christine, Alexandra, and I said prayers together. I have had some really spiritual moments since I’ve been in Rome, but I really think that this was the most spiritual experience of my life.
After a truely dramatic and emotional day, we went out to dinner with our new Swiss Guard friends/boyfriends before getting on the night train to Torino!! What a day!
Thursday, February 16th, 2006
Due to the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, friendships/love with Swiss guards have commenced. On our way to the opera last night (wednesday) we stopped by the Vatican to visit our new friends. Giuliangela, Alexandra, Christine, and I were able to visit Phillip while he stood guard at the Bronze Doors. Giuliangela e innamorto cotto!! She’s madly in love! I would be too if I were her.
As Giuliangela and I headed off to the opera, Alexandra and Christine went to visit their respective guards. I think we’ll be making more visits to the Vatican in the future, yeah!! We’re actually planning on going to the Vatican museum this Friday (even before we met some Swiss guards) and hopefully we’ll be able to have someone as our personal tourguide.
Speaking of love, we went to another amazing opera! I’m developing a liking for operas now. I actually knew one of the songs from this opera, Rigoletto, so I was really excited to hear it. I had another wonderful evening at the opera house. All in all, I’m having a wonderful time in Roma!
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope everyone has a wonderful day. It’s nice being in Rome for Valentine’s Day, but I really miss my valentine Bryan. Giuliangela said she would be my valentine tonight, but it’s just not the same. What can you do? Go to class all day, eat dinner at the hotel with a bunch of girls, go to a lecture at 8:30 (who’s bright idea was that?), then go out with the girls…and smell the beautiful sweet roses Bryan sent to me all day and all night. Grazie molto!!
Lots of love to everyone, Angela
Although I missed my true valentine all day, I ended up having a wonderful evening with the girls. We went out for a night in Rome with love looming in the air. I had a lot of fun while my friends were being swept off their feet by Swiss guards, how romantic!!