“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family” - Ram Dass
Arriving at the Vatican was the proper conclusion of the Via Francigena adventure.
But in the words of Joe Strummer,
What are we gonna do now?
After a few days off, I feel, I want to keep writing daily. I have always enjoyed writing and taking pictures. The path from Canterbury to Rome made me feel like I was doing something and going somewhere everyday and making discoveries worth writing about. That, of course, is all subjective. What was I really doing on the path besides walking, talking, eating and sleeping towards the holy direction of Rome? But, I have to “go somewhere”and “do something” and discover things every day to keep writing, than so be it. I will!
So after the first look at the Vatican, and the Via Francigena testimonium...
I tried for some angles in the spectacular architectural landscape of Rome that night.
I put my hard head in a helmet to make a small tour of Rome by Vespa!
This was a small challenge and a thrill. The scooter company, with good intent, strongly discouraged me from the new endeavor of driving myself around Rome on a Vespa. But someone who knew me well from walking the Via Francigena vouched for me, so they stretched their faith and let me play.
After a slow start and a little fumbling with the mechanics, I doubted too, but all was well that ended well. I experienced a huge feeling of freedom on that little bike, the culmination of every happy moment on a bike I’ve had in my life so far, plus the buzz of a motor coming through the handlebars.
The next day, I met my parents at the airport for an encore tour of the city on another new kind of vehicle for me - the double decker tour bus!
As the quote alludes to, I tried to keep 100% cool headed professionalism as their new Italian translator and tour guide, but sometimes felt my voice lilting back teenage frequencies, when I wanted more influence on the group itinerary, and honestly, to do less walking! Don’t be fooled by the 65 and over card, my Dad is closer to his Bersaglieri heritage than me, especially when in Italy for the first time!
But if I didn’t gain 100% cool-headed enlightenment from completing a long pilgrimage, I did pick up some new strategies.
When the vibes started to hit an all time low in the mass of humanity queued for entry to the colosseum, I sent myself on a gelato mission!
There are no concessions directly outside the colosseum entrance, probably for good reason. But gelato is never far away in Italy. I have a pretty good sense of how fast and far I can walk by now. I exited the collosseum, crossed the street, and walked three or four blocks to find a small grocery store that sold ice cream bars by the piece and by the box.
My Italian-American grandmother, sometimes to my American mother’s dismay, never passed up a sale on ice cream at the grocery store. Even if it meant a freezer full of Neopolitan Breyers. So I took out my pencil and did the math- more ice cream was bargain! I ran back up the long line with a box of frozen treats, enough to share.