europe day 16: assisi to rome

Last morning in the retreat house in Assisi. Had breakfast, final packing then checked out. There was a 9am mass in the chapel, which mm attended while I used the internet in the sitting room. Our train was at 11.26am, so we left with plenty of time to catch the bus to the station. We’d scoped out the route to the bus stop yesterday—it was mostly pavement, about 12 steps up then 2 lifts through a car park so we figured we could manage.

The train was quite full, and the teenagers sitting next to us were quite noisy. The train stopped at one of the outer platforms at Rome Termini so it was quite a trek to the taxi stand. The taxi driver was helpful and friendly, we got to the retreat house without any drama. This retreat house is within walking distance to the Vatican, around the corner from the small market my parents and I visited twice during our two stops at Rome in the past 2 years. Yep, this is my third visit to Rome in as many years, and the area is becoming slightly familiar.

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Anyway, the retreat house is at the corner of a busy side street, with 5 storeys. Luckily there is a lift. The Sisters were so warm and nice, there was even a helper lady who translated for us. Sister Donatella spoke a little English, and we communicated with the other Sisters with lots of grazie and si. Our room is a very large twin with lots of room to walk around and a private bathroom. A very old 14” tv which we unplugged because we needed the plug for our charging station (I set up an extension cord so we can charge 2 iphones, 1 ipad, 2 cameras, 2 fitness trackers and occasionally 1 external battery). No internet in the room, we knew that when we booked. We asked the Sisters and heard the good news that there is internet in the common room. We don’t mind coming down here to use wifi every night, that’s what we did at Assisi.

Had a late lunch at the café bar opposite. Spaghetti alle vongole and a side of grilled vegetables. Glass of house red for me. The spaghetti was nice but ultra salty. It was past 4pm so it was probably early dinner / high tea.

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Next stop was the Vatican. We knew we had tickets for the mass on Easter Sunday in my name, but the confirmation letter for mm’s application never arrived, so we thought we’d check with the office to see if she got lucky with her application too. There was the perpetual long queue for security, and we figured it wasn’t the right place. Asked the Swiss Guards and were directed to the side entrance to pick up tickets. No problem for the ones in my name, I had the letter and reference number. When mm explained that she was travelling and missed the confirmation letter, the nice guy checked her name and yay! we have tickets for mass tomorrow with Papa Francesco.

Strolled around for a bit. Had a gelato, bought some magnets, headed to the bridges and the river. So different from Florence and Assisi. Florence, though touristy, is still a small town. Assisi, again touristy, is an even smaller town and felt more intimate and peaceful. Rome, well, it’s Rome. It’s noisy, busy, full of beggars and people selling selfie sticks. You fight with cars and buses and a million other tourists when you cross the road. There is a special smell and atmosphere. It’s Rome.