The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Friday, August 12

Under the Tuscan sun!!

Ciao! We made it to Italia, mi dispache (I'm sorry) nothing was posted until now, between the crazy travel schedule and the lack of Internet points when I was able to use them (or even awake enough) the delay was unavoidable. Today, though, we are in Siena Italy, literally having spent the day "under the Tuscan sun" in Tuscany, and having sampled some fine Tuscan chianti and watched the view in the Il Campo piazza. So now you get a major recap!! Lucky you! No photos yet though, I have yet to fine a wireless access point with my laptop, so I am using the hotel's computer now. Not sure how much time I have, so I will just start at the beginning and pick up again next time if need be.

Monday, August 8th / Tuesday, August 9th -

I travelled to Italy on my own, going from Chicago to Newark, and then to Rome. The flight went pretty well, Providentially actually. My sister kindly drove me down to Chicago on Monday Aug 8th, and we got there incredibly fast - so fast that they were able to get me on an earlier flight to Newark. Thank heavens, since on our way to Newark, we got word that Newark was bogged down and our plane was being rerouted to Hampton CT for refueling before continuing to Newark - about an hour and a half wait! I barely made my connection to Rome, the only way I did was because I technically budded in line at the customs point and pleaded for mercy to the guard. Anyway, I made it to Rome early in the end, due to a fast flight, at around 7:30 am Rome time.

At the Rome airport there was a bit of confusion as to where I was supposed to meet my driver who was to take me to the Bernardi campus (the residence house for University of St. Thomas students in Rome), but finally, after wandering around for awhile with my life in four suitcases I found him. Nice fellow, very cheery in spite of my bedraggled appearance and not-so-plesant smell after a day of travel. We left the airport and wow, I was HOME!! The sights, the smells, the people, everything was just as I remember it. Sort of a combination of California looks, Houston climate, and spiced all through with all sorts of things uniquely Italian! The cars look like something out of a Matchbox factory, the road lanes and lights are mere suggestions, the drivers are the best damn crazy drivers in the world, and the pedestrians are even nuttier. Instant Italy, just add water. We drove off the highway and towards the Vatican (Bernardi residence is just northeast of the Vatican), and I suddenly looked ahead and realized that I was looking right at the papal apartments and Bernini's columnade! Then we drove a little further and up on the left I could make out St. Peter's dome and the statues of the saints on top of the columnade near it! I just shuddered and said to the driver, "I'm home!" He just grinned, and said he heard that one a lot.

We made it to Bernardi, I met with Thanos, the residence director, and was grateful to discover that I think I'm going to get along just fine with him. My extra luggage is now awaiting my return to Bernardi. Thanos gave me some tips in getting down to St. Mary Major, one of the four major basilicas in Rome, to meet up with the rest of the pilgrims, and I was off! I set out from Bernardi with a map and a prayer, and started walking in the general direction. What fun it was!! From the very beginning I was completely comfortable wandering around Rome, even by myself. The people are so friendly and the city is so condusive to walkers that it didn't matter to me in the least that I wasn't entirely sure of where I was going. :) So I first wandered across the Tiber, and headed for the Piazza del Popolo, checking out a few churches there. Then I went down the Via Corso, the major shopping street that goes to the Trevi Fountain. Before I got there though, I veered off and headed for the Spanish Steps. The same old Steps, nothing changes there, not even the rose boys (if you've been there you know what I mean!). I then headed south, zigzagging along the roads and checking out random churches and shops along the way... made it eventually to St. Mary Major and then finally thought to call one of the other pilgrim's cell phones to see where they were. They said they were a bit delayed, and actually were going to St. Paul's Outside the Walls first, and so I continued walking and went down to meet them at St. John Lateran - what a splendid reunion to meet up with a whole group of friends suddenly in the Pope's own church (see, San Giovanni is actually the Cathedral of Rome, so that church, not St. Peter's, is REALLY the Pope's home church!! Cool, huh?) After St. John Lateran, we went to Mass at St. Mary Major, and then went down to the Catacombs. Very cool. Later, just before dinner, Fr. Rutten and a few of us tried out the Metro (subway) to go to St. Peter's to "case the joint" before our scheduled journey there the next day to see the Pope at his Wednesday general audience.

I ended up having other adventures that night, in returning to Bernardi to retreive my short-term luggage (I hadn't wanted to lug it all over Rome on foot with me, so I figured it would be "easy" to go back and pick it up later...) Suffice it to say that, joined by three wonderful friends, I managed to use practically every form of Roman public transit that first day - private car service, subway, taxi, bus, and of course, walking! We didn't make it back home to the hotel and bed until around 12:30 am - after a long two days of traveling that was quite late enough, thank you very much.

End of day 1... more later when I find some more time! Pray that I find a way to get some photos up here soon, I want to put a ton of them up here!!

Bueno serra!


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