I just made it out most of the woods called finals week. I had 3 papers due Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well as a stressful final exam Friday morning. Now all that stands in my way from enjoying my last few days in Rome is one last final. But more on that later. Now, I’ll continue as best I can where I left off with the last post.
On the Tuesday after Easter Sunday, April 2nd, I went back to St. Peter’s because I wanted to get some Easter Holy water. I also wanted to sit and pray at Blessed Pope John Paul II’s tomb since the 2nd of April is the 8th anniversary of his death. As I was waiting to get Holy Water, I saw a group of people greet a cardinal coming out of the Sacristy. I could tell he was a cardinal because of the red zucchetto he wore on his head. I went back to Blessed Pope John Paul II’s tomb and prayed the rosary and as I was doing so, the same cardinal I saw in front of the Sacristy came into the area where people can sit or kneel and pray and he sat down right in front of me! I also noticed that there were more people paying their respects on that day than any other I have seen. It was very moving to see. It was also a powerful and meaningful rosary for me because as I was praying I was remembering the very day Pope John Paul II died and how I felt then. I finished praying and left St. Peter’s just before 6:00, when they closed the Basilica to tourists. I later learned that an hour after I left, Papa Francesco went and prayed at Blessed Pope John Paul II’s tomb.
The rest of the week was pretty quiet, although the following week would be the busiest week of the semester. It seemed like all my professors knew when my best friend was coming, so presentations and papers were due and I had to take one or two tests that entire week. The only way I managed to get through that week was seeing my best friend after 3 months.
On Sunday April 7, which happened to be Divine Mercy Sunday, I went to Santo Spirito in Sassia right next to the Vatican, which has Divine Mercy Shrine. For some reason the two did not click because there was a big Mass being said by a cardinal there and the crowd was out the door into the street. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo of when Mass started so I joined the crowed of standing outside. After that, I went to St. Peter’s Square to pray the Regina Coeli (prayed at noon instead of the Angelus during the Easter season) and hear Papa Francesco speak. Once that finished, I managed to make my way through the crowd of people and started to look for the hostel where I was to meet my best friend. I had no way to contact her because I don’t have internet on my phone unless I have wifi and her phone didn’t work. We eventaully found each other and the two of us, along with her two friends, made our way to my apartment. We dropped off our stuff and I turned on my tour guide mode. I showed them a good meeting point in the middle of my apartment where my best friend was staying and the hostel where her two friend were staying. Then we went to see the Forum and the Colosseum. After that, Kaitlyn and I came back to my apartment because I needed to study for my exam that I had the next morning.
Monday after my classes, I met up with Kaitlyn and her friends and I brought them to Piazza Venizia, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navonna. I also brought them into my favorite gelato shop near the Pantheon. I wanted to show them a couple of churches, but some churches in Rome are closed on Mondays. A little disappointed, I tell Kaitlyn and her friends little bits of information about each place that I actually learned in two of my classes. Afterwards, Kaitlyn and I left the group and went to go get dinner at a good restaurant near my apartment.
Tuesday, which was Kaitlyn’s birthday, I took her to the Vatican. We quickly went through the museums in a half an hour (which is the fasted time I have ever been through them) because all we wanted to see was the Sistine Chapel. Satisfied, we left for St. Peter’s. I felt so happy to be showing someone St. Peter’s Square and Basilica because it’s my favorite place in Rome and it will someday be the place where I work. Going into the Basilica, I told Kaitlyn that I wanted to introduce her to someone special. I brought her around to the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II and it was in front of his tomb that I gave her her birthday present. I told Kaitlyn that I got it in the Vatican and that I got it blessed by Papa Francesco. I may have scored brownie points because I made her cry. :’) Anyway, we wonder around St. Peter’s for a bit and we eventually make our way to Santo Spirito in Sassia because I wanted to show her where I go to chruch sometimes. We got back to my apartment, met my roommate Emily, and the three of us went to go meet Kaitlyn’s friends. We all went to Dar Poeta, a really good pizza restaurant, for dinner and then we went to go and get some drinks. Emily, Kaitlyn, and I came back to the apartment and made birthday brownies and drank a bottle of wine. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. And I’m glad that I was able to celebrate Kaitlyn’s birthday with her.
The next day, I brought Kaitlyn to the train station where she caught a train with her friends to Florence. It was sad to see her go because it would be another month and a half before I would see her again. I managed to get myself through the rest of classes for the week because I had the Amalfi Coast to look foreward to.
I went to the Amalfi Coast with a group from AUR for the weekend and we left early Friday morning because we had a packed weekend ahead of us. Our first stop was Mt. Vesuvius. The bus brought us up most of the way, but we had to climb to the summit on foot. It was a difficult and steep climb up, but once we got to the top, there was a wonderful view of the valley below.
It was pretty windy at the top, but once there, we went on a guided tour around the summit where the tour guide was telling us about how Mt. Vesuvius is still active, but dormant and that the magma chamber is about 30 meters or so under the bottom of the creator. It was all really interesting and I managed to see some steam vents around the edge of the creator.
We spent the afternoon in Sorrento, which is amazingly beautiful. Apparently lemons and lemon flavored things is a specialty there, especially lemoncello. On Saturday, we took a ferry to the island of Capri where we spent the entire day. I went with a group of people and rented a boat that took us on a tour around the island. At one point, we were able to jump into the Mediterranean Sea from the boat if we wanted to. I can check it off my list that I went swimming in the Mediterranean at 10:30 in the morning in the middle of April. It was very chilly, but fun! We also went into the blue ghrotto, which only had a 3 ft. entrance from sea surface to the top of the entrance to the cave. So, we all had to get into row boats in order to enter it.
On Sunday, we got a tour of Pompeii. It was unbelievable how it was so well preserved. What blew me away was that on some of the walls of the buildings, there was still paint and designs from the ancient city. The forum looked a bit similar to Rome’s ancient forum, except that Mt. Vesuvius was in the background. We then went to Naples for about 3 hours where we were able to get lunch (pizza, basically) and look around the city a little bit. From what I saw of Naples, I much prefer Rome.
It was a busy weekend, but well deserved break from a busy week. Since it’s after spring break, classes are starting to have all of their final tests and papers due.