The barista who works in the coffee shop by the dome of St. Peter’s has a confession:
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned. Last week I stole money from a lady who came into the bar for a cup of coffee. She gave me a five Euro bill and I shorted her change. She didn’t speak Italian very well but I still understood the righteous anger she lobbed over the counter at me. I prey on tourists because they are low hanging fruit on a money tree and I can’t resist the temptation to pocket easy change. I know it is particularly repugnant of me to steal on sacred ground. For this and all of my sins, I am deeply sorry.”
A greedy barista took my money but he didn’t steal the day. Look at that sky!
After taking Eddie to the bus stop for school, (and on a whim) I walked to the Vatican and climbed the dome and cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was early in the morning and the absence of crowds in a place that is always heavily touristed felt like magic. There were no lines at the entrance and no bodies to jostle inside. It was easy to feel fully present without these distractions and to appreciate the noble beauty of the architectural feat capping the basilica. Conceived by Michelangelo after years of on-again, off-again work on St. Peter’s, and raised in 1590 by his student Della Porta, the dome is a masterpiece of monolithic proportion. It rises 452 feet above the base of the church. I believe it is still the highest free-standing dome in the world.
The history of the building of St. Peter’s makes for a good read in the hands of R.A. Scotti. I recommend her Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal if you like easily digestible history and colourful story telling.
Here’s a priceless photo of a minor car accident I was involved in a few weeks ago:
Like ants to a picnic, the extended family of the other driver appeared within minutes of the collision. Notice her father-in-law in the background trying to take Jim to the cleaners. Aunty, in the green shirt, offers a classically Italian gesture. And the young sentinels, with hands on hips, guard the slightly damaged bumper. The husband and another relative arrive after I shot this photo.
(The large Italian family might not live together anymore but they clearly work together…)
It took an hour to settle the excitement and to sign the insurance report that the father-in-law gleefully authored.
I was at fault (ish): I hit the car while turning left but the other driver was clearly speeding down a hill and appeared out of the ether. It was the end of a long day celebrating Eddie’s birthday at a water park and I had six kids in tow, three in my car and three in Jim’s.
It was difficult to argue degree-of-fault in Italian because I have only a mildly functional command of the language. (A muzzle to a Livieratos whose birthright it is to argue…)
While the Italian family was milling about and fussing-away my time with insurance paperwork, (do people really carry these forms in their car?), I thought wistfully of India and of how a few hundred Rupees would have cleared the scene in minutes.
More of the month in photos: