On to today then. Started off by making the hour long walk to St. Peter's square at Vatican City, as the pope was due to appear on his balcony at noon. So at just after 11 I arrived with the throngs of people all waiting to see the pope frmo his balcony. So I waited around until about a quater until noon when the window opened and a man clothed in black rolled out a big purple flag that hung from the window. It was exciting to hear the gasp from the huge crowd when that happened as I was sitting on the ground reading my book at the time. Funny how when I got there at quarter past 11 people were already staring up at the window cameras ready. Chill out I thought it's not even close to 12:00 yet. Then at 12, a podium was placed at the window and the curtains were drawn back. There was THE POPE!
! He stood there for a few moments waving his arms around I'm guessing blessing people or greeting them in that special pope way. I thought that would have been it, but then he spoke! I was so surprised. His voice was connected to a big loud speaker that echoed all over St. Peter's Square. WOW! I did't expect that. I think it took me a minute to realize that the voice coming from above and beyond was actually COMING from the pope. Duh, but how cool was that!! So he spoke for almost 20 minutes. Mostly in Italian, so I had no idea what he was talking about, then he spoke a little french and thanked a group of people who were there from france, and he then went on to thank groups from all these countries and speaking in their language. French, then English, German, Spanish, Italian, Slovenian?, Polish, Portugese, wow! I was surprised when he spoke english because he had such a thick german accent to his voice. I had trouble understanding what he said even. Then after each language, everyone cheered from those respective countries, and then he said goodbye in Italian and waved and then turned away from the window and was gone. It was pretty amazing. I can't believe the number of people that were there. I felt pretty lucky to be there and to see that. I mean it doesn't get any better than that in religious terms. WOW!
After that, I got the heck out of there. Way too many people all herding out of the sqaure at once. And so began the rest of my day lost in Rome
. Voluntarily lost though. I just stuck the map in my pocket and wandered around the Trastavere area of town on the same side as Vatican City. It had a really different feel than the rest of the city I've seen so far. Sure there were tons of taxis and scooters and people and noise, but it was slightly quieter and older. Piazza's, pizza places, gelateria's, old buildings covered in green green vines. It was great. So pretty just below this big hill. Got some pizza which I think was the best I've had yet, and then some gelati of course. Melting a bit, but cheapest I've found. I tried something that tasted a bit like rocky road ice cream. It was alright. One thing I've noticed about the pizza though is that they don't put tomato sauce on it. How wierd is that? It's on some kinds, but not on the ones I've been having. They just have meat and cheese. And this whole thick, thin, stuffed,etc. crust thing we do back home doesn't exist here. It's mostly thin thin crust and bottoms on the pizza I've had here. Terrible to say, but I think my favourite pizza is always going to be the Pizza Place back in Swan. Oops! It's the sauce!! So I wandered around some more in Trastavere and then didn't want to leave yet, so I walked the opposite direction to where I thought I would find a park. No park, but amazing, huge, gorgeous mansions or villas. WOW! I'll load some picks when I get a decent computer to do it on. Huge maple? trees lining the streets, leaves crunching under my feet, sun streaking through the canopy, and beautiful orangy-red villas
. It was perfect. And...unbeleivably...silent. The occasional screeching scooter and mad taxi driver, but almost silent. This can't still be Roma? Eventually found my way up these old stairs and came upon a monument and huge fountain overlooking the whole of Rome. Wow again. Took out my map, but had lost my way a while back. The monument turned out to be the Gianicolense, and the hill I was on was Villa Abamelek near the Piazza Guiseppe Garibaldi. Gorgeous city views. As I started to descend the hill and about 45 degrees to my right was another view. The city never ends! I think if I could have seen full circle, I still would have been surrounded by neverending city. Unreal! Still I think there are about a million too many people here. So crowded! Walked down the hill and ended up back where I started.
Then I wanted to find this thing called the Aventine Keyhole. Apparently you could look through and see St. Peter's Basilica. Long story short and about a half hour walk up another hill, seriously dead tired of walking now without stopping, but I found it. In a little car park at the end of a lane near a few old churches and a line full of people. Another funny thing is that no matter where you go, to whatever sight, there is a police car and two guards there. At EVERY sight! Never fails. So if you're lost, and you come upon a police car and two officers, you've found something worth seeing. The name for the police is Carabinieri. Love that word
. And they are dressed up totally. Fancy hats with ribbons and ropes and the works. Holding bug guns most of the time too. So cute! Anyways, waited in line for about 5 minutes, and then got to take a look. Just a circle keyhole, but sure enough the only thing you can see it like a vine lined path down a long walk and right in the middle is St. Peter's Basilica. Pretty as. I wish I could have taken a picture but I didn't want to look like a dork sticking my camera up to the little hole. I mean seriously, and no offense to the ones who did. If you're picture worked can you send it to me? Half hour to get there, five minutes in line, and 5 seconds to look. Where next?
Back down the hill, past Plazza Venezia, and towards Trevi fountain, where I am not telling you how many gelati's I had, but they were GREAT! Tiramisu is my favourite. I almost always get it and another flavour, because you get two at a time. I've found there are two different kinds. Apparently there is alcohol in tiramisu, as I overheard someone mention, but not until I tried it for a third time did I taste it. For the first two times I had a light coloured tiramisu which I am assuming had no alcohol in it. Then there is a dark one with alcohol in it. I like the light one not the dark. So now I know. Unreal number of flavours, so how can you blame me for eating so much of it. I wonder if I can make my own gelati? Hmmmm...
So left the trevi fast because it was a complete mob. I thought it was busy the other days, but this was insane. You couldn't get within 40m. of the fountain. Sunday crowds I'm assuming. Get me the heck out of there. By the time I was heading back to the hostel, it was almost all dark out, and only just after 5:30. I can remember when it stayed light so late at night in Portugal, but that was such a long time ago, even though it doesn't feel like it. Pizza for supper of course then the night is almost over. Last day tomorrow is St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, and the Sistine Chapel, as I have only been in the square so far. I'm really excited!
As for where I am off to on Nov. 1, day after tomorrow, it was supposed to be Florence, but it's not yet. Changed my mind two days ago and have got it all arranged. I'll be in Florence in a few days, but I have a detour to make. Not telling you where, but you'll see when I post an entry. Hehe!! Ya! So Ciao from Italy!
So tired from walking that at the moment I simply can't remember what I did yesterday, so I will just assume it included walking all over the place.