People Piling in to Rome

I was very glad to be able to do all of my pilgrimage stuff yesterday, when the weather was beautiful and the city still felt like it was “mine, all mine.” This morning I made my way to 9am mass as the little chapel of St. Philip Neri, which is becoming my morning habit while here, and afterwards I walked over to St. Andrea Apostole, which has been rather brilliantly freshened up in time for it’s feature as part of the vigil leading up to the beatification. Last September it was under scaffolding, today it is beautifully whitened, it’s statues at the entrance are sparkling, and the interior was being set up for the weekend.

As I awaited the opening of the Bulldog Inn, a little pub that is directly across from St. Andrea’s, I sat on the steps and did a little people watching, as bus after bus returned from Termini Station with pilgrims and tourists in tow. Tons of them — a remarkable amount of young people, young families, and as they walked past, I heard them speaking in English, German (a lot of German, which surprised me) and Spanish. French, not so much. And I noticed a few things:

1) Americans are no longer the only fatties. The world is becoming tubby, and I suspect the Internet has a lot to do with it. We spend so much time not moving, anymore, and I am the first to acknowledge it.

2) Teenage girls are the same no matter where they are from. They shriek and cling and galumph and roll their eyes and laugh at other people in a way that annoys everyone around them, except teenage boys, who still act like teenage boys in the face of all that.

3) it doesn’t matter if you went to Princeton, if you strut five paces ahead of your wife, who is pushing the kid in the stroller, if you are drinking a beer at 10am, and the kid is eating chips. Your Princeton cap doesn’t make that seem classier!

4) Italian taxi drivers are the greatest drivers in the world.

5) The number 46 bus is crowded but not bad. You could not pay me enough to get on the #64, though.

6) Poland has some the grooviest, most architect-designed, habited nun-headwear, ever, and I am too slow with the camera.

7) When the line to get into St. Peter’s Basilica is so long it encompasses both sides of the colonnades, that’s a lot of people. Can there possible be enough

8) arriving on Wednesday and not having gelato until Friday is stupid.

Today became cold and rainy, and my knees cried Uncle on me in the afternoon.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • jkm

    Serious Rome envy. I was there last summer for the pallium presentations on the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, and the line that day was around both sides of the colonnade and down the Via della Conciliazione. Even with tickets, we had no seats. I can’t imagine what it will be like this weekend. Should you find yourself in a similar pickle, I can speak for the comforts of the pews in the Chapel of the Presentation of Mary (one up from the baptismal font on the left); true, they face away from the nave and there’s no view of anything but Pope St Pius X in his little red slippers in a glass case, but it’s kinder to the knees than attempting to stand throughout or perch oneself on the base of a column. (You will, but I’m sure as a Rome vet you know this, have to wrestle the ninja nuns of the Vatican for pew space.) And I know you have taken prayer intention requests with you, but if you wouldn’t think it sacrilegious to accept gelato requests, too, I’ll have a scoop of spagnole (custard with cherries). Soak it all in for us.

  • Manny

    I was in Rome ten years ago. I can’t believe that much time has passed. Well, like jkm, serious Rome envy from me too. At least this post made it feel like I was there. More such posts would be welcomed. :)

  • Jason

    How exciting!

    I agree with Manny: more posts are always welcome, per piacere!

  • thereserita

    You may be correct re: the rest of the world getting ‘tubbier’ (sounds so much better than fat, doesn’t it?) but I was at a loss to find many tubby Italians when in Roma. I was only out in the rural areas once so I can only speak for the city dwellers but it was rare to see anyone overweight. I’m sure they must be more physically active than Americans but I wondered to if their propensity for tobacco had something to do with it…Tends to increase BMR & decrease caloric intake. Just wondering.

  • Hallie Lord

    These are exactly the kind of details I’d hoped you’d share–it’s the little things that delight me the most. Thanks, Elizabeth!

  • Stanley Ekwugha

    I was in Rome last November, just weeks before my priestly ordination. I love the city. I feel like dying in St. Peter’s Basilica. For the first time, I saw all the places I once found difficulty to remember in my Church History exam. Above all, I saw the tomb of John Paul II – a bossom friend I never met alive. Rome is our Sweet Home.

  • Bender

    Come on, No. 64 is spacious and palatial compared to the A (red) Line on the Metro!

  • Bender

    And be thankful they did not decide to have a nationwide transit strike this week!