The Pope and the Piazza del Popolo (New Year’s Eve Memories- Rome 2008)- A Video Blog

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Remember the heady last days of 2008?  We had just elected Barack Obama president, which made America and Americans  suddenly much more popular in Europe and just about everywhere else.  This was especially true if you were Black…Anyway, we had quite an adventure in Rome which was the first and last stop on our week-long stay in Italy, which also included two nights in Venice (which I’ll post on another time):

1.  The Vatican is a very popular and very organized place, and you need tickets and lots of patience for waiting in line to see just about anything.  After spending New Year’s Eve Day at The Vatican Museum and Vatican City, we were disappointed that  (free) tickets to mass that night at St. Peter’s Basilica were all gone.  We left that afternoon to grab some dinner, and returned a little later just to hang out in the square and kill some time.  T., who was never one for rules, decided that we would sneak into the Basilica just before mass and at least get a look inside before the big service.  Slipping past  the Papal Swiss guards turned out to be surprisingly easy, and I spent 15-20 minutes or so inside Catholic girl heaven before we heard a loud thud locking everyone in.  Before we knew it, we were ushered into a row of folding chairs at the very back of the church– and in walked the procession with the Pope himself bringing up the rear!  T. had to be my eyes for most of the mass since I couldn’t see over the heads of all those people (and Pope Benedict is TINY!) but I knew it was going to be an interesting night when my non-Catholic husband started alluding to the guy who throws the cape over James Brown’s shoulders in his effort to give me a play-by-play of what I couldn’t see at the altar.  Here’s a glimpse:

Here I am after mass in full giddy mode:

2.  Later we headed out the The Spanish Steps for a little people-watching.  Of course, a certain geeky Brit-Lit major is also on the look-out Keats and Shelley.

3.  Our night ended with fireworks on the Piazza del Popolo.  Fireworks of all kinds appear to be legal in thickly settled Rome; likewise the ambulances were out in droves on New Year’s Eve in case of any mishaps with the pyrotechnics.


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