We arrived at our hotel in Rome — after our bus was in a standoff with a municipal bus coming down the hill — in the afternoon, around 4:30. After an all-too-quick rest, where I didn’t get much rest because the Wi-Fi here is terrible and it took forever to upload photos and my Christmas post, we headed out for a walking tour of the city.
Our hotel is close to St. Peter’s so we walked to the piazza in front of St. Peter’s and Nancy did a short explanation of the facade and the obelisk in the main square. She also pointed out the Sistine Chapel and the location of the Francis and Clare statues, part of many statues on top of the massive colonnade designed by Bernini. (I remember an Ursuline Sister telling me that the colonnade represented the “long arms of the Church.”)
We walked to the subway and exited at Piazza Spagna, the stop near the Spanish Steps. It was here that one of our group had a taste of the seedier sides to Rome. Steve and Nancy had warned us prior to our arrival in Rome about the omnipresence of pickpockets, and both of them urged us to keep our valuables in inside pockets or securely around our neck. Steve strongly reiterated this as we headed to the subway platform. As we were leaving the train station for the Spanish Steps, one of our group noticed two girls hanging out and sensed trouble. Sure enough, one of them had her hand in one of our party’s pockets and was preparing to relieve him of his wallet when the other guy in our group smacked her arm (his wife scolded her to which she replied in some choice Italian phrases, phrases that you don’t find the Berlitz pocket Italian books.
Despite the attempted theft and the persistent, driving rain that we encountered by the Trevi fountain, we made our way to one of Steve’s favorite haunts when he was a student in Rome. As we turned the corner, we ran into our Minister General, Fr. Marco Tasca, who was just returning home.
After supper, the rain had ceased, so we were able to enjoy our walk through the various piazzas (Rotundo, near the Pantheon; Piazza Navona, site of another magnificent Bernini fountain, and the small piazza in front of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.) Steve pointed out the various Egyptian obelisks that are part of these sites. The obelisk on top of the elephant carved by Bernini which is outside of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, is one of Steve’s favorites.
We caught the notorious 64 bus (notorious because it is the office for many a pickpocket in Rome) back to the area of our hotel and crashed for the night.
I didn’t take my camera with me last night, so sorry, no photos.