Thursday, March 14, 2013
We were just about to set off for dinner last night, but decided to check the papal smoke signals. Big excitement: white smoke! Do we stay and watch things online, or go for dinner and come back when he's actually made his way to the balcony?
As soon as we got out the door, however, we realised the thing to do was to go across the river with everyone else to the Piazza San Pietro to see in real life! There were traffic cops keeping all the cars on the non-Vatican side of the river, who had apparently immediately swung into action. No Italian lack of efficiency there!
We got to the piazza and were just outside the "arms." There was much standing around, dodging umbrellas (until people figured out it wasn't really raining after all) and finally someone appeared on the balcony.
The building is enormous! The piazza is enormous! We were so far away that the people on the balcony were tiny specks. And since our comprehension of Italian is minimal, and the crowd was murmuring and the sound was echoing, we didn't understand much, but heard "termini de mundo" or some such thing... Apparently he was saying they'd gone to the ends of the earth to find a pope, but we just got "end of the world"! The Lord's Prayer is recognizable by those of us of a certain age, in any language, and when everyone around us was crossing themselves, we knew something important was going on.
And finally, having experienced our historical moment, at about 9:30, we got to a restaurant for dinner.