Margi’s Second Letter from Rome (part one)
There is so much in Rome – I don’t know where to begin! We went to bed early Friday night to get a good start on Saturday. The director, M Beaucoussin, is such a dear thoughtful man. He rented a wheelchair in Tours, brought it all the way here and wheeled me down to the Vatican in it – because the only way to see Rome is on foot. It was another bright beautiful day and our route took us right along the Tiber. We crossed St. Peter’s square and entered one of the other buildings where the Pope was holding his audience. The doors are all guarded by the Swiss Guards and other ones in what seem to be medieval costumes. The inside is extremely ornate and rich. The room where he had his audience looked just like what you would expect one of the kings courts would look like with all the rich marbles, tapestries, and paintings and brilliant colour of the cardinals, bishops, guards, etc. We stood where we could see all the people entering into the room. With every important person the Swiss Guards snapped to attention and looked very smart. Between times they seemed very relaxed and I saw one got the giggles. The pope came last, surrounded by all sorts of attendants and in robes that just sparkled in the light. It really was an impressive sight but for me it was overshadowed by the magnificence and splendour of St. Peter’s which we entered afterwards. I really can’t describe it. I hope you can get a book and read up on it. We spent almost three hours there and there is just tons we haven’t seen yet. They have works of Michael Angelo and several other important artists. Each has contributed a masterpiece which, when they are all combined, just overwhelm one. Dr. Knolls, our history professor who is just like a father to the whole group, filled us in about much of the church’s past, making it even more interesting. We took an elevator up to the top where we got a wonderful view of St. Peter’s square. Ray and Gail went right up to the top of the dome while I wandered around the roof. We also visited the treasure. This is just a fantastic collection of all the gifts and offerings which have been made to the Church by various countries and monarchs etc. It was difficult to believe that there could be such enormous emeralds, amethysts, diamonds, all together in one place. It was a scene straight out of Arabian Knights. We spent so long at St. Peter’s we barely had time to rush back to one of the enormous Italian lunches they serve us here. I have never had so much pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, etc. It all tastes twice as good too – probably because we are eating it in Rome. All the Italians have a siesta in the afternoon and the town starts to come alive again between four and five. This is a delightful custom we have picked up too, so that’s how we spent Saturday afternoon until four. Gail, Pat, and I decided it was time we did some Christmas shopping so we wandered forth into the streets again. Shopping is a real art here because in Italy any tourist is fair game and each shop has a different price. In many places only by bargaining furiously with the shopkeeper one can get even a reasonable price. Pat was looking for some silk so we bartered in various textile shops along the way. It was nearing the hour with all Italians come out to walk or go home from work and the streets were thronged with all sorts of fascinating people. Rome, like Paris, is an international city and all types of people are found there. We spent about one hour in one little store where I spent $20.00 getting gifts – needless to say I walked out feeling rather ill. If anyone has some special thing they want me to get while I’m in Europe, I’ll be glad to so so if they’ll send me the money. They’ll me what they want, otherwise this souvenir buying can really rack up, especially when we have living expenses too.