Some people come to Italy for the architecture; others, the history.I’ve told anyone within earshot that my trip through Italy would be the gelato tour.And so it was:south of the Vatican, in the tree-lined Trastevere section of Rome, I began my tour.Odd, then, that I would make three stops at the same shop—La Fonte Della Salute—for three different flavors:chocolate orange, pear, and then peach.Not all at once, of course.Each time I returned for more, the girl at the counter gave me a cock-eyed look, a bemused You again?When I finally stumbled out of the shop, satiated, I fell into another shop, ready for some cinnamon gelato.
I know the Vatican is a huge pilgrimage site for Catholics, and as I walked through the Basilica, I saw nuns from around the globe in their habits of different colors and a smattering of priests.(Several shops along the street sold a calendar that offered a new hunky Italian priest each month; alas, none of them were in the Vatican at the time.)But the tourist-to-devout ratio was skewed more towards the former end.And why not?While I’m ambivalent about using one’s cultural heritage as a cash-in (on the one hand, it pays for upkeep and maintenance; on the other, it’s tacky), the Basilica is one of the few free historical tourist spots in Rome.I don’t think the Holy See is hurting for cash:lots of marble statues of saints, wax figures of dead Popes behind glass, everything gilded and/or filigreed.Alas, no religion offers total one-stop shopping; while the Vatican provides plenty of spiritual fulfillment, it does not provide gelato.
Fiction writer. Stories appear in O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, Zoetrope: All-Story, Threepenny Review, Fence, Greensboro Review, Five Points, Black Warrior Review, Epoch, Michigan Quarterly Review, Chicago Review, and Harpur Palate. I like literature a lot. I like horror movies a lot too.