But all work and no play would make Mary a dull girl, and so a lot of the week will also focus on outings to the wonderful sites of Rome. The Church Up Close program actually takes care of a few of the Vatican-centered events: the tour of St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, the Papal Audience on Wednesday, and a visit to the Scavi, the excavation site under St. Peter's that is restricted to only 150 visitors per day. So that's a real bonus. To top it off, I just learned that our final day of the program will be spent in Subicaco, which is where St. Benedict built his first monastery. We can visit the cave where he lived as a hermit and see some amazing frescoes, including the only portrait of St. Francis of Assisi painted during his lifetime. St. Scholastica's monastery is in Subiaco as well. How great is that. Plus it's just a beautiful place.
I will keep you updated throughout with photos and stories from my Vatican adventures. For those who want a little more, I read a wonderful book as part of my Italy preparation: When in Rome: A Journal of Life in Vatican City, by Robert Hutchinson. Informative but fun, respectful yet irreverent. A very good read for anyone interested in Rome in general and the Vatican in particular.
If you've missed my earlier Countdown to Rome posts, click the links below:
Ciao a presto!