|Sunday 7th October 2007-10-07 Weather: - Overcast a little fresher, thank goodness
(H) Today we are off to see "Papa", he had forgotten to send us an invite so we thought we would just rock up. So did 5,000-6,000 other people. We got there rather late and only arrived at Piazza S.Pietro about 11.30am. The Sunday mass in the open for the masses was about 5 minutes from completion by the time we got there. As we walked thru the columns into the Piazza all the people were looking in our direction. The next minute an almighty roar went up followed by clapping and chants of bravo. We stood there dazed, thinking how come they all knew we were coming. But alas it was not for us. High above us and on the famous balcony out of our view, we heard "Papa" over the loud speaker system. This went on for quite a few minutes in all different languages. Onward we soldiered to the nearest half mile queue to visit the Basilica. One thing we have learned is how to stand in queues for anything up to two hours. Seems to me in Rome you can only do one or two things per day as the rest of the time is waiting in queues. The Basilica is absolutely beyond description. Not only in the size of the structure but the frescos, the paintings, the statues, altars, etc. are all so magnificent. Having spent some time wandering thru the Basilica it is now time to once again join another quarter mile queue, this time to pay money to torture ourselves, climbing 350 steps to the top of the Dome. However once this couple of geriatrics gained their breath, it was a beautiful view from up there. A little bit of gyrating around up there to take some photos, as well as to admire the view and we went down again. Incidentally for those of you who are inclined to do the same thing; the climb up the Duomo in Florence was harder and a lot more claustrophobic than the one in Rome. In an effort to get our legs back in normal order we decided to have a lunch stop after which we were to go down to the catacombs. When we went back to the Vatican the ¾ mile long line up put us off so we chickened out and went home instead.
(J) The rain (drizzle) started at about 3:30pm yesterday and it has a very refreshing effect. It is really the nicest weather that we have had while in Rome so we are hoping that it stays around until we leave. Most of the things that we still want to see are the inside of churches from now on in and the rain is not bad enough to stop you from doing anything.
Incidentally getting back to our Trevi fountain thief, Herman is just reading a story from our Lonely Planet, Rome book which tells us that it is not illegal to take money out of the fountain, as it is not illegal to throw it in. It is illegal to jump in to get the money. During October 2004, 54,000 Euro was thrown in, on an average day 1,500 Euros are thrown in, it is cleaned out once a week and the money is sent to charity.
Now back to today; on the agenda were two things the first being for us to work out for certain as to how and when we have to catch a train back to the airport on Tuesday morning, as we want to try to avoid Termini with all our baggage, so on to 'train information' at Termini station we go. On alighting at Termini we find the platform shoulder to shoulder thick with people, all off to the Vatican for the mass we suspect. After getting our tickets and information for Tuesday we decided it may be a good idea to have a coffee stop to let the pilgrims go before us, and it worked, we arrived a little later but we were not packed like sardines either.
There are not enough words in my vocabulary to do justice to the Basilica St Pietro, it is the most magnificent Church in the world as you all already know but how to describe it all in words leaves me speechless, now that is a nice change you may say so I will let Herman tell the story with his photos.