Easter in Rome.
There’s nothing better, and nothing worse.
The weather here is heating up, and so is the tourism. Living so close to the Vatican, my roommates and I have been forced to reroute our morning commute to school – or throw ourselves into the masses and hope to make headway amongst scantily clad Americans with gelato in one hand, and a map in the other.
But despite the shoebies, the weekend just isn’t one to be missed. The Spanish Steps don purple flower arrangements, the streets are cleaned. Most importantly, there is chocolate everywhere.
While I didn’t get to participate in every Easter event over the past few days, I had a great time experiencing such an important holiday in the Catholic Church.
On Friday night, a few friends and I hopped the metro down to the Colosseum, where Pope Francis was giving the Stations of the Cross. Arriving around nine, we kept our group together as we weaved through the crowd to find a good place to stand. The spectators all gathered in front of the Colosseum, looking towards a hill in the Roman Forum (read: ancient Rome). There, Pope Francis was seated in his plush red chair, looking cozy amidst the giant burning cross behind him.
The only real buzz kill were the temporary flood lights they put up for the TV crews to film the crowd. It was the best way to take the mood lighting the fire and Colosseum provided and turn the whole event into an aerial search for a criminal.
Ok, the other buzz kill was that everything was in Latin and Italian – but if that isn’t “diving in to the culture”, then I’m not sure what you guys are expecting out of me.
I actually surprised myself at how much I picked up (mixed with the scripture I already knew, granted), and by the end of it I was nearly able to say the Our Father in Italian.
All those times my parents poked me in church to pay attention – little did they know they should have just taken me to a service in a different language!
When all was said and done, we scurried out to beat the crowds and headed over for a drink in Campo di Fiori. Not sure how Holy that is, but it’s almost my birthday. As a side note, this year was the first in a few more years than I’d like to admit in which I successfully gave up something for Lent.
Ok, so I gave up cereal – but as someone who can and was eating a box per day, this was a necessary intervention.
Saturday was filled with rain and our first thunderstorm of Rome, but the weather cleared up beautifully for a sunny Sunday morning Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Ok, confession time: I didn’t go.
Everyone else in my apartment did, but unfortunately I caught the stomach flu that’s been going around in our apartment the day before.
Tempting as it was, I knew that getting to Mass at 7AM and standing in a crowd for 5+ hours with no access to a bathroom just was not going to pan out well.
That being said, after a long, peaceful sleep, I woke up in a quiet apartment around eleven, which is incredibly late for me. But with everyone gone, I made myself a cup of tea, sat out in the sunshine, and for the first time at 16 Via Fasana – it was quiet. The streets were empty: no honking horns, screeching brakes, or revving moped engines.
It was just so peaceful.
After everyone returned, we made a huge brunch – eggs, sausage, potatoes, croissants, pastries, fruit, even mimosas! We took our time cooking, eating, and enjoying each others company in the sunshine.
If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from Rome, it’s to value the time we spend creating our food and cherishing the people we share it with.
And amidst all the joy, there’s wasn’t a single person who didn’t miss their family on Sunday. Religion aside, we all have traditions of Easter baskets and home cooked meals with the ones we love on such a special spring holiday. As the afternoon went on and the dishes were all cleaned up, we all found our own corners to call siblings, FaceTime family, even open Easter baskets from thousands of miles away.
Personally, I got the chance to talk to my parents, Chris and his family, and Tierney and her mom, Cheryl. It was so sweet just to be a little part of everyone elses holiday, and a heartwarming reminder that there are so many people I can’t wait to see again in just a few weeks.
Like so much of my time abroad, I know the past weekend will always have a special place in my heart – right alongside a past filled with fond memories of Easter Egg Hunts, sweet hams, even my 18th birthday, which fell on Easter. Something always makes our holiday’s wonderful, doesn’t it?
Hope yours was wonderful, too.
Ciao, for now.