The Pope Says Hi

by Berck

Well, not really. The pope addresses the population on Wednesdays every couple of weeks or so. This morning I woke up at the ridiculous hour of 6am (after not really sleeping at all because I’ve got an awful cough), got “breakfast” (a measly pastry and cold coffee.. Same, every morning…. Gotta love that it.), and climbed onto the bus Marcello was driving. UD has a deal with a travel company that provides typically the same 3 buses for all 112 of us every we go somewhere as a class. Marcello’s bus is my favorite because of, well, Marcello. Many people think that the biggest heroes of Rome are the bus drivers. Marcello speaks very little English, but usually Jon Bird rides Marcello’s bus as well. Bird’s a UD graduate working here as a “Rome Assistant” for the time being. The kind of thing one can do with an art degree from UD.

The bus trip was quite rough. We left at 7:30am, and the Rome rush hour traffic was awful. I tried to sleep, but Marcello would periodically wake me up by honking the horn at some obnoxious driver while screaming at them in Italian. At one point I woke up to see him throw something at a car that wouldn’t let him by. The Italians are great. Slept some more until about 9:15am when Marcello halted the bus quite rapidly, and stops within inches of hitting a car in front of us. The car behind us didn’t do so hot and hit the bus. Marcello stormed out of the bus in a fit of rage, spouting what must have peen profanity in the direction of whomever hit us. I couldn’t see much else from our vantage point. The Polizia stopped a few minutes later to yell at Marcello for blocking traffic, at least as far as I could gather from the wild gesturing. Marcello simply kept yelling at the Polizia who got back in their car. (They drive Alfa Romeo’s here, cool, eh?) We got to St. Peter’s square where we exited the bus illegally at an ATAC (public transportation) stop. Hundreds of romans and “Pilgrims” (erhm, tourists) were in St. Peter’s square to see him. He rode up in his little pope-mobile, waving and looking very old. They drove him up the steps of St. Peter’s where a chair awaited him. He spoke in Latin, French, German, English, and Italian, at least as far as I could tell, there might have been more. Overall, I would describe the event as an enormous Papal pep rally. The crowd had banners and yelled and screamed and waved and screamed… He thanked various groups for coming, among the group he mentioned was The University of Dallas Students, who were bound and determined to yell and scream the loudest and probably succeeded. Luckily, it was only an hour long, since I don’t think I could have sat there much longer listening to mostly foreign languages of which I could grasp very little. The best part was probably seeing the Swiss guard in person. They really are just goofy looking. I got this enormous urge to just point and laugh, but refrained. I find it difficult to take someone seriously who’s wearing something that resembles a Mardi Gras outfit and a big floppy beret. It doesn’t matter who designed the outfits– they still look silly.

So, that ended at 11:30, or so. I found a pizza place that actually warmed my piece of pizza in an oven. Most of them use microwaves now, so its better to get it cold. Only I don’t know how to say cold, so I say, “Non Calda”, which I eventually learned means ?Not Hot?. On many occaisions in the past they’d ask “Calda?”, to which I’d reply “Si”, and then they’d go and heat it anyway. ?Calda? sure sounds like ?cold? to me! The word froid remained something of a mystery for some time.

I’ve got until 2:30 to meet the UD’ers back at Piazza di Spagna for a walk to Villa Borghese which contains four of Bernini’s sculptures, which some argue are his best work. I’ll write about them after I see them. They gave us a 3 hour lecture on sculpture, the Baroque, and Bernini last night, so I’m all ready to go see it.

Oh, I saw this HUGE billboard of a guy with a mustache and DALI printed across him. Turns out there was a really big Dali exhibit that was here until 9 Jan. So, I just missed it. However, billboards have been popping up all over for the past week for a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit, which I’d really like to see. After seeing lots of his stuff in the contemporary art museum in Chicago, it’d be neat to see whatever’s here. I asked Jon Bird (UD Art graduate) if he knew anything about it. He said he didn’t, but loved Lichtenstein (no way I’m ever gonna spell that right) and would find out, and he and I could go together. So, that would be cool. It would have to be neat to see it with someone who knows something about art.

I’ve got a horrible cough, and I hope I don’t have to go see an Italian doctor. On top of that, we’re going to Monte Casino all day Saturday. Tomorrow I’ve got a theology exam. A philosophy paper is due Friday. And a Literature paper is due Monday. So, I’m busy. It’s quite tough to balance running around and seeing Rome while working on a tough semester, traveling all over the place, and coughing my head off. We leave for Florence, Venice and Assisi on Tuesday and return in a week, I believe.

I’m going to go grab some Gelati before I head over to Villa Borghese…

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