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You'll Never Walk Alone -- at the Vatican

They all just want out.(If this post is cut off at the bottom by photos, try reloading the page. This usually works.)

I do not like crowds. When I'm in one, I can think of six thousand reasons why I don't like them, and each one of those six thousand reasons has a mind of its own. People are not meant to be treated like cattle. Cows, besides the obvious fact that they moo and poop and are perfectly happy to follow the cow butt in front of them on their way back to the barn, do not usually visit the Vatican.

People do. A lot of them. I'm sure the statistics are like seven billion a second. And, with all the sex scandals, I don't think anyone has time to pay attention to maximum capacity limitations. I wonder what the statistics are for people going apeshit and beating the cowpeople in front of them to death with their digital cameras. I'm going to Google this.

"You're doing really well. I'm surprised," said Josef, the Hungarian florist--my perennial traveling companion.

Um, moo?"So am I," I responded calmly. I was doing self-calming exercises, chanting quietly I will not beat the people in front of me to death with my camera, I will not beat the people in front of me--

"I thought you'd be having a panic attack by now." Josef was at my side, his chest squashed against the woman's head in front of him.

"I am actually." I winced as a hand brushed against my arm. "I'm making my happy face."

"Ah, so you are. I like your happy face."

The woman with the riding crop was our guide.

I will not beat the people in front of me to death with my camera, I will not beat the people in front of me to death with my camera.

I booked the a.m. tour of the Vatican museums: reviews mentioned that the morning tours were less crowded. If this was less crowded, I want to know how many camera bludgeoning incidents happen in the p.m.

Due to some special audience or something (this is not the most informative post, I know), the basilica was closed until 2 p.m., so we stayed on the grounds. Luckily, there's a restaurant in the museums that serves real food as opposed to the other "restaurants" at the Vatican museums that serve mediocre pizza, boring salads, stale bread, fruit salad out of a can, etc. (in other words the standard tourist food because Italy thinks tourists know absolutely nothing about food anyway. I can't say it enough: Italy thinks you're stupid.)

What is it they say about cleanliness?Back to the restaurant that serves real food: When I ordered in Italian, the waiter actually smirked at me and answered me in bad English, which solved my quandary about tipping him. The restaurant floor was a mess. There was more rubbish on this floor than on the streets of Napoli. The waiters were serving people while ignoring the dirty plates from previous guests. There were stacks of dirty plates on every table (we removed the ones from our table ourselves). This has to be the dirtiest place I've ever eaten in. The food was OK. And I was out of the constant flow of people.

The entrance to a museumA little after two, we tried to make our way to the Sistine Chapel, where we would have been able to enter the basilica. Sadly, we got a bit lost in one of the cowpeople drives and ended up back where we started. (No one was killed during this time.) Instead of mooing our way through the crowds again, we decided to walk around the Vatican outside to the entrance on Piazza San Pietro. The queue to enter the basilica was--hyperbole aside--a kilometer long, and three or four people deep. I think it was one of those situations, like the human intestines, in which, if you unwound it and made people stand behind each other in the queue, it would have reached to the moon and back. We opted for gelato instead.

I was not raising my camera to hurt anyone.Crowds aside, I enjoyed Rome more than ever this time. Why? I'll tell you next time, but I'll give you a hint: I'm going to eat my words about the bad food in Italy. I'm even going to be complimentary and grateful--almost teary.

I must be off,



Christopher Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.

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