We had been forewarned about the heavy rains that would transpire during our last days here in Rome. I was woken by a loud clap of thunder. It was a bit early in the morning, but I was fully awake. I got our of bed in the dark, and slowly walked to the kitchen. I poured myself a bowl of cereal, startled by a loud clap of thunder halfway through. I could hear the rain pounding onto the concrete outside, and I began to think what the day might hold. We couldn’t miss today. We had a tour planned for the Colosseum, and would also see St. Peter’s Basilica, for we had not yesterday. Yesterday we saw pretty much every part of the Vatican but the basilica.
After everyone else had woken up, Alex went out to get some much needed raingear. Jasper, Kieran, and Janet all had waterproof jackets, while Alex and I only had sweaters. We were in need of Ponchos! Alex came home from his shopping, and we donned our Ponchos. I now had #Ponchopower.
We walked out the door. Luckily, the rain had stopped (for then). We walked down the road, and out into the main street. The Colosseum was an hour walk away, so we took the bus. After searching for the bus stop for longer than we should have, Alex pointed to a lady running down the sidewalk and told us that she was going to our stop, so we raced after her. We caught up with her at the bus stop just as the bus drove by. It didn’t even look at us. As it passed with its doors closed, the lady raised her hand in disbelief. The most frustrated look was on her face as she cried, in English, pretty much talking to us: “Horrible city! Stupid People! Inefficient administration!” And she stormed off. She was furious. Like a raging fire, she stomped off, in absolute fury. She was dressed up, maybe meaning that she was then late for a job interview or some business meeting. This shows that a lot of Italians in Rome are bit fed up, and that lady felt like the bus should have stopped for her, but it didn’t.
We caught a different bus to a stop near the Colosseum. We passed a statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Sardinia from 1849-1861, and after that, he became the one king of all of Italy. A long time ago, Italy was united under Roman rule for a while, then the Romans collapsed, and the Ostrogoths held it for a very short period of time. After that, Italy split into many smaller kingdoms, and didn’t come together again until the time of Victor Emmanuel II. Italy was very late to come together, after France and Spain, and they had to protect themselves by coming together, or else they might have been swallowed by the French, the Spanish, or even the Russians, who were also uniting at that time. We also saw the Eternal flame, a flame that, theoretically, will always burn for as long as Italy remains a country.
We soon arrived at the foot of the Colosseum. The building is almost 2000 years old, and some of it has fallen apart, but what was left was firm and strong. All of what I am telling you happened in some form of rain. Sometimes it was pouring, sometimes it was dumping buckets of water on us, and sometimes it was only mildly drizzling. Apparently our tour had been cancelled due to the rain, so we had to go to the other side of the Colosseum to get a refund. After endless check-in and security, we finally went up, into the spaces from which the audience would have watched the shows in the Roman times. This was The Colosseum, where the best gladiators got to fight. Great shows would take place there. I used to think that the Colosseum and the gladiatorial sport were just people running around in the arena killing each other for entertainment. But no, these were Roman movies and stage plays. They were nothing like the Greek Olympics. You might have heard about a colosseum, but there is no such thing. All the Roman arenas you see throughout Europe, those are amphitheaters. All those “colosseums,” are actually amphitheaters. There is only one Colosseum. The Colosseum of Rome. “All roads lead to Rome.” Rome was the center, the heart, the breathing spirit of the whole Roman empire. The Romans valued their land very highly. Their land of Rome. It was always Rome. No wonder it is the capital of modern Italy!
After the Colosseum, we walked out into the pouring rain. My poncho was serving me well. We walked to the bus stop, and drove to our neighborhood. We had missed St. Peter’s Basilica the other day, when we went to the Vatican, but now we had a chance. In the pouring rain, and the cover of dark, we got in line in the big courtyard in front of the Basilica. Entering was free. All we had to do was wait in line for half an hour in the dark, soggy, rain.
Finally we walked through the doors into the Basilica, into a beautiful, glimmering gold-white chamber. Off to the right was La Pieta, one of Michelangelo’s greatest works. There were statues of angels, and many elaborate paintings and art. If you look up, you get sucked into a maze of woven patterns, and in the back of the Basilica, supposedly lies St. Peter. There is a saying that goes “there may have been Christianity without Jesus, but there couldn’t have been Christianity without Peter.” There were plenty other people like Jesus in Palestine at the time claiming to know the word of God, but it was Peter who spread the word throughout Europe. St. Peter’s Basilica is the Heart of the Vatican, the heart of Christianity. That was the place. And it was truly spectacular.
By the time we had walked back to our Airbnb, we found, to our disappointment, that all the heavy rain had created a huge puddle right in the middle of the only street leading to our Airbnb. There was no way around. We had to find another way. We ultimately had to climb over the fence behind an apartment building, then go through the gate in the front, to get out onto the little road that went to our Airbnb. It may have been a tiny bit intrusive, but at least we got back in one piece!
Below: Me huddled up in my poncho just before the downpour
Below: Statue of Victor Emmanuel II and surrounding monument
Below: Sky while we were waiting in line for the Basilica (looks like it’s from an Italian Rennaissance painting)
Below: Left to Right: Inside the Bascilica; Supposedly the grave of St. Peter; La Pieta
Below: Puddle that blocked our way