End of the Southern Circuit

The Final Leg of the Clown Car

Here we are again.

The Clown car on its final circuit.

We checked out early and circled back to Pompeii to pick up the rest of the circus before heading back to Rome to return the rental car and spend one more night together. In the morning David and I will be catching the train to Parma.

One stop at Autogrill for bathroom breaks and breakfast, another stop at Sarni for a 4-minute-as-timed-by-Nicole’s-phone bathroom break for me (I DRINK A LOT OF COFFEE AND WATER, LEAVE ME ALONE!), a third stop because we forgot to fill the tank, and a final stop to dump my mom, aunt, and cousin at the taxi pickup at Termini Station….phew! Finally ready to return the car.

Turn left. No,here. No…now go straight and go around the block. Turn right! Turn right!

NOW we’re ready to return the car…

Our hotel room for the night was close to the train station, but not too close. We were located less than a 5minute walk from Santa Maria Maggiore, and I happened to spot that there would be a 6:00 mass. I freshened up and hustled over with the church bells ringing in the air overhead.

I kid you not, this papal basilica was built in the 4th century.

Ok,well,sure, then it burned down. But it was rebuilt in the 5th century. That’s the 400s, yo. And additions have been made in every century since. I watched evening light streaming through one of the large windows in the apse behind the altar, and it might sound corny but I honestly felt something profound imagining that same light from that same sun streaming through that same window, witnessed by countless other humans participating in the same sacraments over time.

The mass itself was more slow and…intentional? Than I’m used to. I love my parish (inclusive of ALL and live out Matthew 25:31-45 through real actions and service in the community) and of course it is very reverent, I only mean to describe that every step,every movement, seemed to be at half-speed and executed with immense focus. (I did appreciate the incense. I miss incense. I am partial to “smells and bells,” as we are sensate beings.) I recommend attending mass here if you have the opportunity.

Now here’s something that made the whole proceeding weird. All along the back and sides of the church were tourists filming and taking photos and sometimes talking. It’s an actual religious observance happening in a place of worship, and it felt like an audience watching a performance. But I tried to remember that they were interested, and imagine if it were me in a synagogue, mosque, gurdwara, or some other place of worship, and decided the curiosity came from a positive place.

After mass David and I jammed over to meet the rest of my family at a place that specializes in sandwiches for dinner, followed by gelato at the popular Venchia gelateria and chocolate shop…

Gelatoooooooo! PS, mine’s vegan!

…then to the Pantheon (along the way my aunt became enamored with the glowing boomerang wares of a street merchant and bought some for her grandsons – she was like a little kid so I made her buy one for herself, too)…

…and finally the Spanish Steps. David, Nicole, and I climbed the steps, enjoyed the vista, climbed back down, and all of us sat talking for awhile before it was time for goodbyes – after 10 days together, it was time for David and I to head north and Aunt Jeanne and Nicole would be headed back in two days to New York. My mom would spend the next week in Rome waiting for her partner to arrive.

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