Sunday, August 3, 2008

Greetings from: VATICAN CITY

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.

1 comment:

Melinda said...

Plastic aviator sunglasses???? Gasp!