I can’t believe it’s Day 10 already! I’m feeling pretty much at home. Every morning on the way to school, I cross Via della Conciliazione and say, “Buongiorno, San Pietro!”
A couple times I’ve been running late to school and dashed across at the light, forgetting to look. Not that the sight of St. Peter’s ever gets old! You’ve just got to catch the light when you can.
Class this morning reminded me that some things never change. In my high school German class, I had a friend whose German name was Grizelda (and I really hope I’m spelling that the way she did because I think she may be reading my blog!). Anyway, she was always really good with the vocabulary, and I was always really good with the grammar. We used to joke that together we’d be the perfect German student. Well, nothing’s changed since then. Italian vocabulary still eludes me, but the grammar is relatively easy. Oh, Grizelda, where are you when I need you?!?
To give you an example of the kind of complex grammar we’re doing, today we did the Italian equivalent of the following sentences:
Present Passive Voice: The shop owner is sued by the two men.
Past Perfect Passive Voice: The shop owner has been sued by the two men.
Past Passive Voice: The shop owner was sued by the two men.
Future Passive Voice: The shop owner will be sued by the two men.
In the English classes I teach, this might be grammar I cover with seventh or eighth graders. In other words, in my Italian classes, I’m doing middle school level grammar, but when I talk, I sound like a three-year-old. Oh who am I kidding, I sound like a two-year-old when I speak Italian! Pizza? One for me? Ticket for the bus? One, please.
After class, I headed to Castel Sant’Angelo, which is on my way back to the apartment. I have to say that in talking with other students, I really lucked out with the location of my apartment. It’s nice that I can walk home after class and recharge (myself and my phone) for a bit before heading back out for the late afternoon/evening activities.
When I was on pilgrimage in Rome last April, my group was supposed to get into Castel Sant’Angelo. We arrived before the closing hours, but when we walked up, a guy at the entrance said, “No more. We’re closed. Too many people.” Apparently, they’d reached their max capacity, so this time I was determined to get in there.
Castel Sant’Angelo has quite a history. In short, it was built to be a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian (as in Hadrian’s wall, which I saw part of the remains of when I was in Scotland with a friend two years ago).
Starting in the fourteenth century, the building was used by popes as a fortress in times of invasion. In fact, there’s a corridor that connects Castel Sant’Angelo with the Vatican so that the pope could use it to flee attackers whenever Rome was invaded. In fact, this is what Pope Clement VII did when King Charles V invaded during the Sack of Rome in 1527.
According to legend, Pope Gregory I had a vision of the Archangel Michael with his sword atop the castle, signaling the end of a plague. Thus, the renaming of the structure and what became a series of St. Michael statues on top of the castle. Angelo (my grandfather’s name) means “angel” in Italian.
The view from the top terrace (which is where I took the above photo of the latest St. Michael statue) is absolutely amazing. You get a breathtaking view of Rome from above.
If you’re familiar with Puccini’s opera Tosca, this is where the title character throws herself over the parapet.
I took a ton of photos at Castel Sant’Angelo, but there isn’t time to post them all. However, I will share with you a souvenir I bought as it fits in with the them of my trip: an Italian cookbook!
What I really like about this book is that it shows you a lovely picture for each recipe and tells you what region of Italy it came from.
I had planned to return to school for a free extra lesson on pronouns (I know, sounds exciting, doesn’t it?), but I spent too long in Castel Sant’Angelo. In fact, I nearly got lost in it. I had decided to use the audio guide but couldn’t even find all the numbered spots to hit the play button. By the time I got out of there, it was too late to go to the special pronouns lessons. Oh well, I decided to go home and rest for a bit.
After a rest at home (during which I worked on my homework–yes, we get homework), I headed back out. My plan was to hit Giolitti’s for gelato, then Chiesa del Gesu for prayers, and then school for the Tuesday night group dinner.
On the way to Giolitti’s, I remembered that I hadn’t signed up for the dinner. It’s the only activity they ask us to sign up for ahead of time. So I had to take a detour to sign up in the school office.
I headed next to Giolitti’s, but I stumbled upon Sant’Agostino church along the way.
It was a church I wanted to see for its Caravaggio painting of Mary holding a rather large baby Jesus in front of two “scandalously scruffy pilgrims” (or at least, so says my guide book).
Finally, I was off to Giolitti’s. It was crazy busy at 5:00 in the afternoon.
I ordered apple and champagne this time. Rumor has it that the liquor flavors (like today’s champagne and last week’s limoncello) are actually made with liquor. I can neither confirm nor deny that; however, I can tell you that the apple flavor had pieces of real apple in it, and it was delicious!
Next it was off to Gesu. This is a Jesuit church and the place where St. Ignatius of Loyola is buried. Interestingly, he’s not buried in the church that bares his name.
The whole church, including the altar where he’s buried, is very ornate, something that would probably not please him too much.
However, I have to say that I find a lot of the artwork very moving. As I knelt in prayer before his tomb, my eyes drifted upward to this lovely mural on the ceiling above his tomb.
I assume that’s St. Ignatius riding on clouds that are carried by angels and being lifted up into heaven. His posture makes him seem so joyous, as if he’s stretching out his arms to greet Jesus. What a beautiful way to think about death! That when our life ends, the angels will carry us up on clouds so that we can greet Jesus with outstretched hands.
I stayed long enough in the church that 6:00 p.m. mass started while I was writing in my journal in the back. The organ started playing a tune I recognized but couldn’t name right away. Suddenly, I was moved to tears, but I couldn’t figure out why at first. I had just been writing in my journal about how well the trip was going. How many blessings I’d received. The familiarity of the organ music was starting to bug me. What song was that? Then a line finally came to me: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” No wonder I was crying! Isn’t that just what I had been doing when I’d been listing off all my blessings in my journal?
Finally, it was time to head to school for the Tuesday night dinner. However, when I arrived, there was no one there. I pulled out my list of activities. Oops! I was a half hour late. I thought the dinner had been at the same time as yesterday’s “tandem night.” Nope! Sono in ritardo! For the second time today, I was late for something at school and had to miss out.
As I wandered around the neighborhood looking for a place to eat, I first chastised myself for not double checking the time. I’ve double checked the time for every other activity over the last ten days. Why didn’t I double check this one?
But then as I sat eating my dinner (a simple panini and a limone Schweppes) in the park near Castel Sant’Angelo, I realized that I’ve been doing a lot of running around on this trip. I haven’t taken nearly the amount of quiet time I thought I would. So I ate my sandwich leisurely watching runners and dog walkers and kids playing in the park while classical music was piped through some speakers in the street fest behind me.
And then I strolled leisurely home, stopping briefly at St. Peter’s. Just because I could.