Saturday, September 6, 2014

San Pietro - the basilica.

Saint Peter's is a place that's ideally visited by two types of people: the devout and the very patient. I'm really neither of the two, but I'm in a good mood here in Rome and I refuse to get stressed too much, which is why I was able to wait in that long, long line that crept along at the speed of a very tired and probably a little sick snail, of people who wanted to get inside the church. Usually, I'm also not one to go into churches, but this one is so much more, it almost doesn't count. In the end, I really enjoyed seeing all the opulence and the decor and the riches and and and...

...and I couldn't help but wonder how many people you could feed, clothe and give shelter if you liquidated all those assets frozen in gold and marble. But hey, who am I to point a finger, right?

I'll shut up and show you pictures.

I was disappointed by something other than the exaggerated and unnecessary luxury too, to be honest. I wanted to light a candle for my grandma. That's the kind of thing she would really have appreciated, that would have made her happy. So I searched and searched, up and down and back up, and finally I asked where the candles were. To no avail. I was told there were no candles in Saint Peter's. For security reasons, allegedly. "But you can buy a candle in the gift store." Yeah, no, sir, you didn't really get it...


While you're in the basilica - that visit is free of charge, by the way - you can also go down into the catacombs. There are no dark, spooky hallways full of human bones and skulls, but you can see a bunch of artfully decorated old tombs of popes long gone. Most of them have really funny names. The popes, that is, not their tombs.

Before you leave, make sure to visit the courtyard as well, there are two things there worth a minute of your time.

A) There is a bust of He Who Must Not Be Named. I'm not sure why. Maybe the Dark Lord put it there hoping that Dumbledore or Harry would at one point pass through and think it was a horcrux and be lured into a trap..? We'll never know.

2) Water. The closer you get to anything of historical and/or cultural interest, the more the vendors charge for cold drinks. And that's not just fancy stuff, but water too. And the number of public drinking fountains decreases as the number of dehydrated tourists and pilgrims increases. Something tells me that's on purpose. But there, in the courtyard beside the basilica, there's a fountain of fresh, cool water - and it's the only one I've seen there, so make sure you quench your thirst and also refill your bottle for later!

One more fun thing outside, on the square - and I don't mean the carnivalesque-looking soldiers of the Swiss Guard. If you're going to send postcards to anyone, make sure to use the Poste Vaticane. You're not getting a stamp in your passport from this new country you're visiting, but this way you can get a stamp of proof on your mail.

Now, back to Italy!

PS: A bunch of people told me to tell pope Francisco they said hi, but I didn't actually see him during my visit. I guess some secretary somewhere forgot to put me in his personal calendar and so he happened to be on his afternoon coffee break while I was there. But don't worry, I left him a post-it by the main altar. I'm sure he'll be in touch later, I told him to text me.

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