I'm staying at Hotel Max, not far from Termini, and it's been a perfect place to relax as I get over jetlag- a calm, welcoming place to return to after each little foray outside,
When I woke this morning, I guess you could say I had no idea how wet I was about to get! But as soon as I emerged from the metro stop for the Vatican (Ottoviani) it was raining hard enough to put my raincoat on, and from there on in, it just got worse! And actually, my trousers may well have kept drier if I had bought one of the umbrellas that had been foisted at me by salesmen disbelieving I didn't want their wares, but my shoes would still have been sodden.
First indication of the umbrella hordes came as we waited in the security queue.This surprised me but I guess it shouldn't have. I had been to the Easter Mass once before, and it didn't seem so very long ago, but I realised it was 2006. That year, I'd walked across town - that took me an hour- and just walked into a nearly deserted square at 8am or so. But I guess it is a different world now.
Here is a photo I took just after security check, before I left the shelter of the columns. My camera then remained buried in two layers of waterproof bag until the prayers of the faithful in the Mass, perhaps three hours later, when it eased off, and then actually stopped. If I had known what a drenched rat I was about to become, I would have arrived later! But as if prayers were answered, the rain did actually completely stop for a while...
I kept trying to be in a gap so I could see the big screen, but tall men with huge umbrellas kept getting in my gap. I realised I would probably have had a better view in my hotel on a local TV channel, but where would the fun been in that?
Occasionally I got to see the altar, as the umbrella bearers worked out the rain had stopped...By this stage I was feeling quite cold because of my drenched trousers, so I didn't exactly pray for anyone. And if you caught any of the coverage and thought you saw some devout expressions, I reckon it was just people struggling with cold, wet conditions. Everyone got their reward though for enduring the wet, when Pope Francis whizzed by in his open cart. Second time around, I am certain he smiled at me!
I didn't stick around for the Urbis et Orbi blessing, though I did see the Pope appear at the window and start to speak. The carabinieri had to help us back through the crowds still arriving: I think they were quite sympathetic to the wetness we had endured!
Back at the hotel I showered, and felt that delicious dry feeling. Then about 3pm I ventured out to find some lunch, surprised to find I was by no means too late. Yesterday evening I'd chosen my eating place badly- basically, don't trust a place that claims to do Italian and Chinese food. The service was incredibly bad, in a weird way, as was the food. But today I struck the jackpot in a place near my hotel that was genuinely Italian. Italian families ate here, and all were spoken to by the patron during the meal, and farewelled warmly. He shook my hand as I left too. And importantly, the food was yummo as well! My vegetable soup was obviously made on the premises and was delicious. I would love that grandmother's recipe!
And the vinegar I was given so I could make my own dressing seemed like a portent for my journey to Assisi tomorrow.
I know where I will be returning to for a meal when I return to Rome for the last night of this journey! I came back to the hotel for a wee siesta to try and make up for several nights with too little sleep. And tomorrow, I get up earlyish for my 7.58 train journey to Assisi. My adventure continues!