Our new motto is...the best laid plans are no plans! With no set plans for today and no booked tours, we ventured out to stroll the streets of Rome after breakfast and see what we might stumble upon.
The first Sunday of each month it is free admission to most of the museums. This can usually mean long lines at many of them. We are staying in a pretty central location so it was still fairly early when we got to the Pantheon. We walked past it with our tour guide yesterday and the lines were real long. Today we walked right in. What an impressive preserved structure. We downloaded an audio guide to our phone so we sort of had our own tour once inside. These guided aps tell you so much of what you are looking at.
Leaving the Pantheon we headed over to the Trevi fountain to toss in a coin. It was pretty crowded so we tossed our coin, stayed a short while to admire the massive fountain and take a few pictures. Time to take a cappuccino break and look at our map and decide which direction next.
Tomorrow we have an early tour of the Vatican and Sistine chapel booked that starts with breakfast in the Vatican garden at 6:30AM. We decided to head over that way next and find where we are to meet the tour. We crossed the Tiber River and headed straight for St. Peter's Square. We knew about the Wednesday audiences with the Pope (that we won't be here for) and had also read about him greeting the crowds on Sundays at noon from a window. It was about 11:30 so we thought maybe we could catch a glimpse of him from afar. We passed though a few security check points and as we got closer to the square it seemed like an unusual amount of people. Come to find out, today there were 2 saints being canonized by Pope Francis, Elizabeth Hesselbad, a Lutheran convert who hid Jews during World War II and Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczynski, the founder of the first men's religious order dedicated to the immaculate conception.
Pope Francis was saying mass in St Peters Square when we arrived. It was in Latin so we weren't quite sure at what point in the mass we were arriving at. There were big screens around the square where you could watch the mass but we were pretty far back. We positioned ourselves along a barrier and when it came time for communion we were able to receive it from the priests that they send out into the masses of people. I told Carl we are staying put and maybe after mass the Pope will pass by. He had his doubts but agreeded to stay.
The mass ended and sure enough you could see the Pope getting into the Pope mobile on the screen. You could tell where he was based on the roar of people as they drove him around the square. Despite having a man next to me the size of Godzilla, we were able to get a great view and blessing from the Pope as he passed by our vantage point. How lucky are we?
With all of the excitement we almost forget why we came this way in the first place. We got out our map and found where we are to meet our tour tomorrow. It's was about 2:30 and we hadn't had lunch. Back across the river and we stop at a cafe named Opera for a great lunch. Time to head back and recharge our phones. Using them as a GPS and camera really run the battery. Plus stopping back allowed us time to rest our feet for awhile.
Around 6pm after recharging both our phones and bodies we were out and about again, this time across the river to the town of Traverstene. This is a very old erea. We stepped into an old church I wanted to visit but mass was being said so we didn't stay. Right outside the church in the piazza were loads of people milling around. In Rome you don't have to eat to sit at a table in a restaurant. They ask you drinks or food? We were just having drinks and wanted to watch the liveliness of the piazza. There were street performers, musicians, singers you name it. After drinks it was back over the bridge to try and get a good photo of the Colliseum at night. By now it was close to 10pm (here we go again) and we haven't eaten yet. Near where we are staying there are loads of restaurants. We sat at a table out on the street/sidewalk and enjoyed a late dinner.
It has been quite an exciting full day for not having any plans. Tomorrow is our last full day in Italy and we need to be up real early tomorrow. We better make the best of it! Somehow I think we will. Ciao!