Although I am not the most religious, devoted Catholic out there (according to the social norms of going to church and stuff) the idea of meeting the pope (THE NEW Pope!) was such an excitement and luckily we got to spend Sunday in Rome without any previous planning!
Right from the metro station, it was already extremely crowded. We were literally squished; even worse than Admiralty station. Everyone was heading to one direction only – Vatican. We just had to follow the parade of people and every step I took was faster than the previous. It was like going to Disneyland, the security check, huge crowd etc, but on a more spiritual level kind of excitement.
As we got to the square, the mass has already started and we could only see from afar, the first Pope from Southern Hemisphere under the red shelter. The hymns sounded so serene and there must be over tens of thousands of people! Everything was kept in order though and I was not afraid of theft at all, because I didn’t think anyone would be desperate enough to steal in the Holy See.
The sun was striking hot but everyone just stood there patiently and intently. Well except the horny couple right in front of us…not very nice is it?
After 45 minutes of listening to the Italian mass and watching the Pope from afar under the searing sun, we gave up and went for lunch.
Strolling along the river under the sun and going through the flea market was just so relaxing. I can imagine myself doing this every day when I retire. (Ahem, seems like you haven’t even started a day of actual work and you’re already thinking of retirement…)
Then we went back to the famous Basilica just in time to catch the super long line. The wait actually was not too long because the group behind us was very entertaining. They were a group of mainland Chinese discussing what nationality my friend and I were.
They couldn’t understand Cantonese and came to the conclusion that we were Malaysians. HAHAHA Perhaps Hong Kong people tend to be whiter? Honestly though, nationality really doesn’t matter. It takes more than what race a person is to determine their morality and virtues.
The basilica is the largest in the world. You could tell by how tiny the people are compared to it. It obviously made all previous churches that I have seen extremely small.
At this point, I started reflecting on the whole idea of faith and religion. I used to have this theory that only kids and old people are most religious. As a kid, I knew nothing and tend to believe in everything nice and miraculous. As I grew older though, I started questioning how things were and there’s a part of me that seemed to believe more in fate in my own hands. I can imagine though that when we became old, religion is perhaps the only reassuring thing that calms our fear of the unknown.
After that the inevitable resting spot is GELATO! Then we went for a bit of shopping and early dinner before going back to watch Angels and Demons again.
With that context in mind we were excited to visit the last few attractions in Rome. We first arrived at the random pillars, then the Pantheon. It was magnificent. After 2000 years, it is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome!
There is a hole in the middle to allow sunshine into the temple (it was not particularly catholic, but rather a temple to all gods) First I did not understand why the central part is restricted, then I remember it rained earlier and thus right below the hole was wet and slippery 😉
The bodies of 2 Italian Kings were buried here too. After that it started raining rather heavily and we had to skip along souvenir shops and gelato shops (such a good excuse) before arriving Piazza Novena. The flea market there was not as fascinating as the dogs passing by. It seems like Italians like bigger, chubbier dogs compared to the petite and fragile dogs in Southern France.
That’s it for Rome and next stop? The fashion city, Milan!
And lastly, what made Vatican even more like Disneyland were these colorful Swiss guards 😀