It’s very strange to hang out with people out of context. So spontaneously spending the day with one of my best friends in a city halfway around the world was crazy but extremely refreshing. Bryn trained down from Florence to Rome, and we explored the Spanish steps, Piazza del Popolo, St. Peter’s Basilica (and Cupola!), the Piazza Navona, and the church of St. Ignatius together. Highlights and reflections of the day…
1) A man tried to sell us roses at the foot of the Spanish steps. We kept telling him we didn’t want them, but he insisted saying we were so beautiful we just had to have flowers! When he finally realized we weren’t going to give him anything, he snatched the roses from our hands and stalked off without another word. Bryn and I instantly burst into laughter. This man thought he was telling us what we wanted to hear…Sir, if you want to get my attention, put gelato in my hand, not roses!
2) St. Peter’s Basilica was more stunning than I remembered. The gold engraved roof is beautiful. The first thought that popped into my head as we walked inside? “If this is so incredible, and it’s man-made, I cannot wait to see heaven.” Wow. Talk about breath-taking.
3) We climbed to the top of St. Peter’s! About 550 steps in the sweltering heat through a slanted dome part of the way but totally worth it: the view from the top was incredible. We got a 360 degree panorama of the entire city – I could even see my neighborhood from up there! If you ever get the chance to climb the Cupola, please do it. It’s an unimaginably beautiful view worth every slippery step and bead of sweat.
4) I took Bryn to St. Ignatius’ Church. I’m obsessed with this place and its wild perspective. There is no way that some of the paintings on the roof are not 3D statues or carvings or something. It’s outrageous. We spent nigh on five minutes just standing with dropped jaws, gazing at the masterful artistry on the ceiling.
5) We saw three street performers in Piazza Navona. They were incredible! They were bouncing around on their hands while in handstands, one guy spun around on his head, gah! It was wild. Can you imagine the life of a street performer? I want to know how much money they make every day. It would be so difficult to rely on others’ generosity in order to make a living. Which brings me to my last thought from this day: there are so many beggars on the streets of Rome. It breaks my heart, but I can’t give money to all of them. I lived such a sheltered existence in Los Alamos, and I don’t trust some of the homeless people in Albuquerque. But these people are crippled or mothers with children, begging while it’s ridiculously hot, and they’re legitimately helpless. I feel so bad! Bryn told me she prays for each of them as she walks by, and I like this idea. I may not be able to take care of them, but I need to trust that God will.
View from the top of St. Peter's!
In front of Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona
I am so thankful Bryn came to Rome for a quick day trip. Friends have an amazing capacity to produce an entirely new mindset. I no longer feel too homesick or panicky about living overseas, and I’m ready to continue this incredible adventure!