After a long travel day, I was up bright and early to grab a caffe latte and walk briskly along the ancient Tiber River--my apartment is one block from Ponte Sisto in the old center city--to huge bright St. Peter's Square and the Vatican. The scale of St. Peter's Basilica is so stunning that more than one visitor gasps at the entrance. Michelangelo's Pieta is on your immediate right, and I particularly loved the statue of St. Peter with his right foot worn from centuries of caresses. I stayed for Latin Mass, very cool, reminding me of the weekly sung Episcopal mass from my youth at St. Hilda's. I got the gist of the homily, even in Italian (don't lust for career, success, winning and material possessions; being humble before God and loving friends and family is more important. Aren't they all like that?).
After checking out the imposing Castel St. Angelo, I met up with Variety critic Justin Chang and his girlfriend for a cool lunch in the shade (insalata di mare, pasta with red peppers). They're off to Florence today; we'll meet again in work-mode at the Venice Film Fest.I walked back through winding streets to the Piazza Navona, full of tourists and schlock art, but adored Bernini's cleverly over-the-top Four Rivers fountain. I found my way to a fun Cinema store and to the deserted Campo dei Fiori, which comes to life in the mornings and at night. It's quiet in the late afternoon on an August Sunday. Then I meandered down Via Giulia, a lovely quiet street, back to Ponte Sisto and my air conditioned apartment. Yes it's true. I ordered pasta again at dinner.