I was talking to Megan tonight and we began to talk about how much we missed Rome… so it inspired me to continue with the Rome trip reminiscing. I can’t believe it’s April and I haven’t finished talking about something that happened in October. I guess it’s like a fine wine — sip it slowly to enjoy it to its fullest.
On Monday it began sinking in that the trip was almost over. We had originally planned on going to the Gesú for Mass at 8, but before going to sleep I asked Meg if she cared if I snuck out early and went to the Vatican for early morning Mass. So we decided to meet at the Gesú at 9 instead.
It’s always a risk to split up and meet somewhere when you’re in Rome. With the exception of my 2008 semester, I’ve never had a cell phone in Rome, and you don’t realize how dependent you are on instant communication until you don’t have it.
But early the next morning I hopped on a bus around 6:40am and headed up the Tiber to Transpontina, the stop just down Via Conciliazione from the Vatican. I ended up walking down the Borgo Pio and going to Sant’Anna for Mass. One of the Sisters had requested prayers there, so I thought it was a good time to go visit. And I love early morning Mass there. Sant’Anna is a little church just inside one of the gates of the Vatican. They have Mass every morning at 7am (and at 8am and 9am and possibly 10am…) and it’s usually packed with Sisters from various congregations who work at the Vatican, along with some other lay Vatican employees. So it’s a fun Mass to go to. I love Sant’Anna — I love the picture of St. Anne and Mary over the high altar, I love the smallness, and I love the pews and kneelers. They’re hard to describe, but everyone has their own little personal kneeler that drops down and is only held down by your own weight. So when you stand up, it automatically swings back up.
This doesn’t do the painting justice.
After Mass I went over to St. Peter’s just to be and pray (there weren’t many days left to do that), but they were setting up for something and you couldn’t go anywhere on the entire right side of the basilica, nor could you go past the sacristy on the left side. So there wasn’t really a place to just be and pray. So I went back and knelt at St. Pius X’s altar, because there were kneelers there. There was Mass going on, and it ended up being Mass in English, so I stayed for that.
Then I headed out — taking my sweet time, just taking it all in. I stopped to take some pictures of the colonnade cleaning effort. It’s incredible to see the statues that they’ve cleaned.
For breakfast, I ended up going to the Gianicolo Terminal for cappuccino and a cornetto. The Gianicolo Terminal is a large underground parking garage that (I think) was built for the Jubilee Year. It doesn’t exactly sound like the place to get breakfast in Rome, does it? When you’re surrounded by incredible coffeeshops?
And if you’re only in Rome a week, normally I would say – no, don’t go to the Gianicolo Terminal. But I was introduced to the Terminal by my friend Trena and the Christendom Rome program when I was back over there in 2008. Christendom would have daily Mass in the middle of the day and then everyone would go to the Terminal for lunch. Besides being a parking garage, the top floor has a large cafeteria for tourists. (it’s packed on Wednesdays after the Papal Audiences) Since Christendom’s classroom building is right next to the Vatican, they have a meal plan with the Gianicolo to eat at the cafeteria. So when I would go to daily Mass with them, there was usually an extra meal ticket and they would treat me to lunch. The food wasn’t terrible- and it was free.
Besides the cafeteria, they also had two coffeeshops (what they would, ironically, call a caffeteria) where you could get cappuccino and a cornetto for a euro. A euro! For a pastry and decent coffee! (well, decent in Italy. Fantastic compared to American coffee) In the Vatican neighborhood, that price is pretty unheard of. So while I would suggest most people should treat themselves to a normal Italian street cafe for breakfast, I knew I could save a little money and get a good cappuccino in the Terminal. And besides, it was good for nostalgia.
They’ve raised their price to 1.20. But it’s still a good deal.
One of the exits of the Terminal drops you out up on top of the Janiculum Hill, where the North American College is, so I followed a couple American seminarians down the hill as they headed into town for class. I was hoping to run into an old Christendom classmate, but no such luck.
Megan accidentally overslept, but I waited in the Gesu and just prayed she hadn’t gotten lost or mugged or something. That’s all I really could do. Luckily, she was fine and we were on our way a little after nine.
Leaving the Gesú, we had a few things to cross off our list. Our list for the week hadn’t been very long, but there were still some things that needed crossing off. Like hot chocolate at Tazza d’Oro. The best hot chocolate in the world.
After Tazza d’Oro (which is right by the Pantheon), we walked across the street and I bought leather boots. Leather boots had been on my tentative to do list, but after seeing all the lovely Italian ladies in their boots, it had moved to the must do list. America doesn’t make boots for people without calves, so I haven’t been very successful in finding knee-high leather boots that don’t look like wellies on me. In Rome, I knew 1) they had nice leather 2) they like their boots 3) their women don’t have calves either! Win-win-win. So I bought black leather boots. And they actually fit me!
Then we walked over to San Luigi dei Francesi, the national church of France in Rome. It’s perhaps most famous for being home to Caravaggio’s Calling of St. Matthew, which is one of my top five favorite paintings of all time. Sr. Matthew Marie had specifically asked for prayers in front of the painting, so I gladly complied. Then it was off to Sant’Agostino, another beautiful basilica – just around the corner- that is full of hidden treasures: the body of Augustine’s Mom, St. Monica; another Caravaggio; a Raphael; and a statue where Roman women pray for pregnancies.
You’ll find statues and altars throughout Rome that have silver “ex-voto” plaques around them, left as a sign of answered prayers. The ex-votos left at this statue are a little different — blue and pink ribbons, baby bottles, pillows, and various other pink and blue signs of answered prayers and babies born. I believe the Italian women go to pray both to get pregnant and for safe and healthy pregnancies.
I went there to pray for my dear friend Liza. … and I’m happy to report that she and her husband are expecting. : )
The morning was mostly spent wandering — it’s just good to walk around Rome like a local. My morning walk from St. Peter’s to the Gesu, and now the walk around the Piazza Navona/Pantheon neighborhood — it was so relaxing. We went to the paper store near the Pantheon that my sister likes, then over to the silver store near Santa Maria sopra Minerva– it was still closed, as it had been every time I walked over there– so I think it must be closed for good. How very sad.
Everything seems to be getting a cleaning– even Elefante!
After a stop at McDonalds near the Trevi for the restroom (the McDonalds by the Pantheon is gone! YIPPEEE!!!!! That discovery was one of the greatest joys of the day. Even though McDonalds is a great option for public restrooms in Rome, it’s good to see at least a small bit of Americanata disappearing from the city), we then headed down the Corso, which is always a frustrating experience. The sidewalk is too small, people walk too slow, and I always end up wanting to scream and push.
But the Corso was a must, because the next thing on my list was to buy a purse at Carpisa. Carpisa is afantastic purse store that Trena showed me in 2008. I love, love, love it. They have the greatest purses at very reasonable prices. I had wanted a black leather purse and knew Carpisa would have one for my Target-budget. Sure enough, they had the perfect one. Megan bought a wallet and I bought a wallet for Jill, because all their things are marked with their cute turtle logo, and I knew Jill liked it.
We continued down the Corso towards Piazza del Popolo, and ended up bopping in the church of Santi Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso — the church of St. Ambrose and Charles Borromeo, the two great saints of Milan. It was perfect timing because Mass was starting, so Meg was able to go to Mass. Then we ended up finding St. Charles Borromeo’s heart, which I had thought was in there somewhere but had never seen it. (There was a sign as we were leaving that said, “Have you seen St. Charles’ heart yet?” and said where it was. We saw it right after I said, “I thought St. Charles’ heart was here.”) So I was able to pray for my friend Sr Mary Charles! It’s good to have a lot of friend with holy names…
After attempting to see our third church with Caravaggios – Santa Maria del Popolo- and failing (it was already closed for riposo), we took one of the mini buses down the Corso to head home. The mini buses are hilarious — they’re so small and jammed with people and they always go down streets you’d never imagine a car going down, much less a bus.
My favorite adoration chapel was closed (in Piazza Venezia), so I’m wondering if it went the way of the silver store and is closed for good. I hope not. Then we walked over to the kitchen store right across from the Gesu (we made one large circle that morning!) where Megan bought espresso cups. Then it was over to Pizzeria Florida for lunch (mmm…) and back to the hotel for riposo.
Only a day and a half left of our trip… it was going way too fast. (It was going much faster than blogging about it. Whew! I don’t know what was more exhausting… all the walking we did, or you guys making it through that long post. Thanks for sticking with it!)