Rome Day 11 / Sunday blessings

Today we started out with breakfast at the B&B. It was actually more than we expected – a nice spread of cold continental with yogurt, cereals, croissants, melba toast, juice and coffee & tea. Terry liked mixing his cereal with milk and yogurt which he started doing in Switzerland. We talked to the other American couple staying at the B&B with us. Jim and Ruth from Rockford, Illinois – they were visiting their son and also a young lady who was their foreign exchange student a few years back.

After breakfast we walked to Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square) for our Pope blessing at noon. After witnessing a marathon through the streets of Rome, we still got there with a lot of time to kill so we decided to walk around the area a little. We went up to one of the peddlers selling souvenirs and I got two pretty sterling silver rosaries in little metal boxes. These guys on the street – selling trinkets, counterfeit designer handbags, sunglasses and all kinds of other stuff – are the people you can bargain with. I know someone who talked a guy down from €80 to €25 for a watch, but of course you have to know how to “play the game”.

When the Pope came out – at noon on the dot – the crowd of 80,000+ went nuts! We aren’t much for crowds so we hung out towards the back of the piazza. If you look in my photo of Terry with the Pope you can see where the Pope’s window is – top floor, 2nd window from the right. There’s a big red banner hanging out. It was great to say that we were officially blessed by the Pope but as it turns out, it really wansn’t a huge production. They do it every Sunday when he is not traveling so I guess it’s pretty common.

After our Papal blessing we walked to Castel San Angelo which is an ancient structure used for many things including housing (and refuge) for former Popes, a prison and a fortress. Its strategic location at the top of a small hill allowed the residents to see an approaching enemy. Of course, we had to climb a LOT of stairs to get up there, but it was really worth it. It was a beautiful day, so we could see for miles and miles.

Just outside Castel San Angelo were the typical peddlers but also some really creepy human statues including a gold-painted motion picture guy, some kind of ghostly warrior, and a silver painted guy in an old fashioned suit. They make their money by charging €5 or so to have your photo taken with them. Of course with these guys you have to be careful too, because sometimes they have a partner planted in the crowd who will pick your pocket while you gawk at them.

We walked back to the B&B and decided to have dinner near Termini so we could scope out the location for our tour bus tomorrow. It was easy – we just hopped on the subway’s A-line and walked two blocks. We have to be there at 7:15am so we felt it was better to find it tonight than look around for it tomorrow morning. We didn’t find any restaurants we really wanted to eat at in the area, so we hopped back on the subway and went to La Fornace (means “the furnace”) which is a wood fired pizza place. I had my usual, Caprese salad (buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomatoes) and Margherita Pizza – the Roman version has a thin crust and is absolutely delicious! With all the stairs we climbed we didn’t feel at all guilty about eating – what’s the point of being in Italy and dieting???

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