Friday, October 12, 2007

Roaming in Rome

Yesterday morning began with all good intentions. After Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and a little breakfast, I wanted to visit a hotel that we're considering for a pilgrimage I'm leading here in Rome at the end of next January. The hotel is located north and west of St. Peter's, and in order to save my feet from unneccessary aches, I decided to take a local commuter train. No problem, I go to the station, buy my ticket, and get on the train. But wait... this is taking too long. I shouldn't be on the train this long, should I? Oh Lord, what have I done? But then I felt the train slow down and saw the name of the station, "Aurelia", and realized that's the exit I wanted. Or so I thought.

I looked at my directions, and realized I was supposed to get off at a station called "Appiano", not "Aurelia". Ugh, so when's the next train? What track of the 5 of them do I depart from? I don't know because the computer screens which announce the tracks and trains are all flashing "Data Inaccessible".

[Note: at this point, let out one of those Charlie Brown screams, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhg!"]

Luckily, God was looking out for me. There at the station, standing at a track, I saw a Legionary of Christ. How did I know? The trained ecclesiastical eye can spot them anywhere: double-breasted suit, french cuffs, hair parted on the side, quiet demeanor; it's a "no-brainer". He offered to take me to the map and set me straight. It turns out that, besides getting a ticket to the wrong place (Aurelia instead of Appiano), I got on a regional train rather than a commuter train. I shouldn't have even been looking for "Aurelia", but "Valle Aurelia" (and now I know there is a difference!). He showed me to a bus that would take me back to the Valle Aurelia metro train station, and then disappeared. Which reminds me, I really need to pray for his intentions today.

So I found the hotel, looked around, had a coffee, and walked back towards the Vatican. The hotel brochure said it was a 10 minute walk to the Vatican Museums, and I thought I'd test it. What I discovered was that, maybe if they cleared the roads and allowed a well-trained athlete to sprint it, he might make it there in under 15 minutes. So I found a bus that would do the walking for me, and made my way back in time for lunch.

I had intended to visit the hotel, walk to the subway stop near the Vatican Museums, and check out the Church of "Santa Maria degli Angeli", which was getting work done to it the last time I was here. Instead, all I could do was check out the hotel, which in the end is the main reason I'm here in Rome.

What's the saying, "Man plans and God laughs"? Believe it.

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