Our first glimpse of St. Peter’s Square came as we exited the gigantic St. Peter’s Basilica. Most people do it the other way around by coming through the square to enter the cathedral. But we took a shortcut from the Sistine Chapel to the church, so had not yet seen the square. As I gazed out at the obelisk in the center and the rows of columns encircling the square like arms, I could imagine the place packed with thousands of people come to get a glimpse of the pope. And indeed that’s just how it would be in a few days’ time, on Easter Sunday. The square, like the cathedral, was also filled with chairs and huge screens in preparation for the pope’s appearance. We would be gone from Rome by then, thankfully. My daughter, Kari, commented that it would be cool to see the pope. Yeah, but it would be a lot cooler to miss all the crowds and just watch him on TV (we didn’t) from the comfort of our Florence apartment, which is where we would be on Easter.
We slipped into the Vatican Post Office just before they closed to buy some Vatican City stamps. As this is the smallest country in the world, we thought it would be cool to have some of their unique stamps to remember our visit.
Before you leave Vatican City, be sure to get a look at the mercenary guards from Switzerland. They look more like court jesters than guards, if you ask me, and there’s nothing “mercenary” about them. Do you think these guys ever get to do anything exciting? Or do they just have to stand around all day enduring the indignation of tourists like us taking silly pictures of them in those goofy uniforms. They must get tired of that. I know they do, because we were trying to compose a funny picture with one of them in it, and just at the moment we clicked the shutter, he stepped aside. We laughed. Sorry, I know they’re traditional and all (and supposedly designed by Michaelangelo), but come on, those uniforms are just so . . . 16th century!