While Italy itself hasn’t always been a dream of mine, the city of Rome has always intrigued me. The birthplace of so many modern technologies, Rome is an ancient city bustling with life, invention, and forward-thinking. I had planned to be in Rome for Easter to witness some of the most widely-known events today. Although I am not Catholic, I wanted to experience the spiritual weekend for itself, in one of the most important cities to Christianity.
The bus from Florence to Rome was also only 3.5 hours, and this was probably, like, the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. We drove through the green hills of Tuscany at sunset, the vineyards stretching for miles and the sand-colored houses dotting the hills like you’d imagine they would in postcards. Even though I was on a 10-euro, 4-hour-long *bus*, the views really took my breath away.
Rome was so unlike Venice and Florence, it was shocking. It’s much more cosmopolitan and city-like, with its wide streets and noisy neighborhoods, especially contrasted with the narrow sidewalks and quiet, smaller side streets of Venice and Florence. Rome is bigger, brighter, busier.
Easter in Rome was really something special. It was really magical to be in such a historic, religious place during an important holiday such as Easter. While we weren’t able to see the Pope give any masses (you have to FAX in your request for the free tickets MONTHS in advance), we were able to see a Papal blessing at the Colosseum at night on Good Friday. We waited for two hours in the misty rain right next to the Colosseum, and throughout the night, the mighty structure began to light itself orange from the inside out. It was really an incredible sight. We were all given long-necked candles with a tissue-paper protection around it to light before the procession.
At 9:15, the Pope appeared on top of the hill next to us. There were audible gasps and shrieks from the crowd as he took a seat. A woman and man took turns reading fourteen scripture verses and proceeding blessings in Italian (we were able to follow along in booklets that were handed out), and the service lasted about an hour and a half. After the readings, the Pope rose and spoke for about five minutes (about what, I could not tell you). We ended by reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Italian, and motioning the Catholic sign of the cross in our chests. It was a really emotional, moving service for many people, and it was a great honor to be present for it.
The rest of the weekend wasn’t as ~spiritual~. I visited the Trevi Fountain (Paolo wya?!), the Spanish Steps, and the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica; I ate gelato and pizza like three times a day (when in Rome…); and wandered about the shops.
St. Peter’s Basilica was really special. The building had funky hours for the weekend of Easter, and I didn’t have tickets to any of the scheduled masses, so it seemed that I might not be able to see the inside. However, on Easter Sunday, the basilica was open until the afternoon. Success!
It was a great honor to see the inside of St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday. While traveling, it’s easy to get caught up in the busy, busy, busy, but in those few moments, I tried to really take in the wonder of it all.
On Easter Sunday, I did find an international, English-speaking Assemblies of God church to attend. The church was created by an AOG couple from Texas, and the service included worship music, dancing, ASL presentations, monologues, and a sermon. I’ve never seen so many depictions of the Easter story before, and it was so refreshing to see people of all ages explaining the famous story. The church’s website can be found here!
And finally, what’s a trip to Rome without the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill? For all three attractions, a two-day ticket for twelve euros can be purchased. I was able to easily see all three in one day, even with the two-hour line for the Colosseum (which was totally worth it!)
The Roman Forum part of the ticket basically gives you access to walk through the ancient Roman city. Wow–what a privilege. As my friend and I walked along the roads that were thousands of years old, we ogled at the ancient, crumbling buildings where so much history happened. It was a bit surreal, to be honest.
Palatine Hill is inside the Roman Forum. After many, many stairs, visitors are rewarded with a view of the entirety of Rome–ancient and modern.
Experiencing Rome during the Easter season was a massive blessing, and one that I do not take lightly. I was witness to some of the holiest, most famous events known to Catholics and Christians today, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to experience such a holy weekend in Rome.
As always, thank you for reading! I am so lucky to be able to share my experiences with you all.