Wednesday, March 31:  Our Papa, the Pope

Today I got up as usual and had breakfast. Nothing exciting here. First, we headed to a Tabacchi (tobacco) shop to get some stamps to America, and we found them. The shop looked exactly the same as our other stop for stamps, but was on a different street. At first I thought I was lost! Our second stop was to see the Pope, but it was at the west side of Rome, and we live on the East side. So, we took the subway. My dad bought tickets at a stand on the side of the road, and we headed down to the station. There was a neat mosaic of a different colored candy being mixed and boxed at a factory, which was a bit different. We took a very steep escalator down to the subways, and waited for about a minute, and a huge train full of graffiti and packed with people. We squished in, and just barely fit.

We got out a few blocks away from the Vatican, where the Pope was. I was amazed to hear that the Vatican was it’s own country, in the middle of Rome! Also, it was only 100 acres. We passed through the X-rays, and they checked our bags. Mom got in trouble because she left her pocket knife in her purse, and the guards threw it into a big bin full of other Swiss Knifes just like hers! I wondered if we’d ever find the right one. We walked into Saint Peter’s Basilica and got some seats. There was about 30 statues around the top of some huge pillars in a circle around the plaza, and I think they were all of the Popes. Shortly, the Pope rode in on his Popemobile, and nearly passed our aisle. He was escorted to the stage, and greeted everyone in Italian. Then an Italian speaker said all of the groups who were here, and they cheered when they were called. Some even sang in Polish for the Pope, for he was from Poland! He then said some words of peace in Italian, and stopped. This took about 10 minutes, and he did it in about 7 languages. After that he blessed our things, including my rosary. We left and Mom found her pocket knife, because everyone grabbed their ones before us.

We decided to head for lunch, and we walked to a little chain restaurant called Pizza Rustica, which was very good! I had a canneloni, which was like an enchilada with ravioli filling. We departed to head for the Vatican Museum, but it had a line that stretched around the block, so we are going to try to get up early tomorrow to get tickets. We headed back into the Vatican to go to St. Peter’s Basilica Church, which was huge! I headed over to the Pieta, a sculpture by Michaelangalo, which was Mary holding Jesus. It had bulletproof glass, because a madman with a hammer started to hack away at it on Christmas a long time ago. The damage was fixed. Mom, Robert, and I went underground to see tombs, but they wouldn’t let us back up! So we had to go outside and get through the front door again, and it was raining. Luckily Dad stayed exactly where he was because he read in his book to not go down there until you were finished, and read some more. We met up with him and toured the church, including a huge mosaic called “The Transfiguration” which looked just like a painting because of the small rocks.

After that we payed to take an elevator to the railing up high on the inside of a dome in the church. Everybody looked like ants! I went through a doorway to walk up stairs that took us even higher, only on the outside of the dome. There were 320 steps, and we got tired. Sometimes there were spiral staircases, slanted walkways, zig-zag flights, and at the top, the whole hallway was curved, because we were on the arch of the dome. It looked like we were in some kind of bazaar fun house. We finally reached the top, with an amazing view! We could see everything in western Rome, even though it was raining. Mom didn’t go near the rail, because she was afraid. I headed down the steps again, but I fell down the spiral staircase for a bit, but didn’t get hurt. Then, we walked out of the church to go to the Vatican post office to send a postcard to my house and my class. Lastly, we walked to the metro, took the subway, walked home, and did my homework. For a while we waited and headed to a restaurant down the street. I ordered lasagna, and loved it. Robert got the same thing, but was a little grossed out by the sauce. Filled and happy we went home. I wonder if we’ll get tickets to the Vatican Museum tomorrow?