If I were more patient, I would have started this blog with some epic music (frankly, I just couldn’t decide which song to use) because that’s about what the last 72 hours have felt like…epic. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised because Rome is already an epic place with a storied past and evidence of that history at almost every corner.
Let me preface this post by saying that outside of getting to the Casa Santa Maria (where I now reside) and perhaps the ordinary things of prayer, eating, and sleeping, I didn’t have much planned for the first week at least. That’s where the fun begins. After arriving in Rome with about 2-1/2 hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours, I was surprisingly awake, which was good because I ended up needing to have a nice long Italian conversation with the taxi driver. In the course of the 30-minute drive from the airport, we casually drove by the Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls, the Circus Maximus, the Coliseum, and probably several other things which I could not remember due to a lack of sleep…no big deal! After a few hours of unpacking the essentials, and finding my bearings at the Casa, I decided that an appointment with the bed was the only logical choice.
After all the basic, yet essential introductions the first morning, it became necessary to venture out into the wide world! My first intention was to go to the post office to begin my permisso di soggiorno (Italian document that allows foreigners to remain in the country). At lunch, however, I was informed that the head of St. John the Baptist was located in a church just blocks from our residence, and since it was the feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, it was only fitting to venerate the relics of such a rockstar!
Then, I was to meet up with a former parishioner who happened to be traveling through Rome, so we met amidst the chaos of the Trevi fountain which, by the way, is under major repair, so if you’re hoping to see it anytime in the next 10 months, stop hoping! Thus began the dime tour…the Pantheon (St. Mary of the Martyrs), Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (with the relics of St. Catherine of Siena…minus her head, of course), Piazza Navona with all 3 fountains, and then a little jaunt over to St. Peter’s for a 20-minute walk-through (don’t worry, I’ll be going back at least another 50 times so I can try to take it all in). At that point, we’d had enough, so we decided to get some dinner at a little ristorante practically in the shade of St. Peter’s. After parting ways at the end of the night, I took a beautiful stroll home past St. Peter’s square, and thought about all that happened that day and found it very good. Evening came and morning followed…the first day!
I’ve been told repeatedly that one should only try to accomplish one thing per day in Rome because anything more will only leave you frustrated because of the vast chasm between the American and Roman work ethics. That being said, Day 2 was devoted to getting my cell phone up and running in Italy…so back to St. Peter’s to meet up with a priest-friend living in Rome. After quickly driving through the Vatican gardens and a stop at the Vatican store, we found it necessary to go elsewhere. All total, 1-1/2 hours later, I was back on the grid though I’m not sure if that is good or not! In the process, this priest-friend invited me on a trip with some American students studying in Rome. Since my schedule had exactly ZERO appointments, why not tag along? What I failed to realize was that we were headed out of Rome to Castel Gandolfo, which is where the Popes have historically spent their summers to avoid the oppressive heat and humidity of Rome; mind you, air conditioning is a rarity in Rome! So after checking out Castel Gandolfo and a couple other little villages nearby, we went back to the campus for a VERY nice dinner and wine tasting. WONDERFUL! If only I had known what I was in store for when I woke up yesterday morning! So, now I’ve got 2 days in Rome, and I’m thinking that if I keep this up, I’ll have Rome checked off the list in about 3 weeks, and I can start visiting the rest of Europe by October!
Since I woke up this morning inexplicably exhausted, I decided to go easy today, so I took a nap – because that’s what Sunday afternoons are good for – and decided to literally walk around the corner to explore our humble little local parish Church…the Church of the 12 Apostles, Roman office of the Conventual Franciscans.
While it has admittedly been like living a dream, I don’t want you to get your hopes up about expecting crazy stories coming through this little blog. I’m not sure they’re always going to happen. Remember, I actually have to study at some point …but then again, I’ve been surprised before!