My roommates went off to Barcelona for the weekend and I was left with the apartment all to myself! It was nice on Thursday, but the whole building was very lonely on Friday because it seemed like everyone had travel plans for the weekend. I stayed in on Friday because it rained for most of the day and Italians don’t leave their houses when it rains. I decided to FaceTime my friend Gabby who is currently studying abroad in London and we talked for about 3 hours! It’s so weird that we are both in Europe, but not in the same place like we always are. We planned out two trips; one to Paris and one to Brussels for Thanksgiving and I couldn’t be more excited. How many people get to travel with their best friend?!
On Saturday I decided to go to mass at the Pantheon, because once again how many people get the chance to do that!? I walked over there around 4:00 and it was packed with tourists so I sat down on one of the benches and waited for the mass to begin. Probably 10 minutes before it started two men from China sat down next to me and one asked to take a selfie with me, so I cautiously said yes and now there is a picture of me and some random guy on his phone and probably some social media outlet. The Pantheon closes to visitors for an hour while mass is being said. You can stay of course if you want to participate in the mass, but to cut down on noise and foot traffic they usher everyone else out. The mass was said in both Italian and English which was really nice.
After mass I decided to wander around a bit. I wouldn’t say I got lost, but on my way back I stumbled upon Piazza Navona, which I had been to before, but never in the daylight. There were a bunch of street performers there and as always people trying to sell you selfie sticks. After taking a few pictures of the beautiful fountains I decided it was time to find something to eat and then head back to the apartment. All I needed to do was find the river and I could figure out my way from there. Well I found the river but I was a little further down than I thought and ended up crossing the one that leads to the Vatican. Seeing as I had no plans for the evening I decided to walk over there and see if I could get some more shots of St. Peter’s at night. I think that might be my favorite place in Rome. As I was walking down Via della Conciliazione I saw a crowd in the distance in the square and could hear singing. I figured the Pope wasn’t there because it was a Saturday and he makes his appearances on Wednesdays and Sundays, but I was wrong. I walked up to the barricade and on the screen was the Pope! At first I thought it was a vigil mass, but as it turns out it was a prayer service for the synod of bishops that was to meet the next day. There were Vatican Police standing at one of the entrances and I wasn’t sure if I needed a ticket to walk onto the square, but I didn’t and found a good spot and just watched. It was an amazing experience and if I didn’t end up further down the river, I wouldn’t have walked over to the Vatican. As I always say, everything happens for a reason…
Next stop: FIRENZE!