The GoGlobal Blog

racing through the tiny streets of Rome

racing through the tiny streets of Rome

There have been a few times, thus far, that I have truly missed the ease and reliability of Chicago’s public transportation system.  One such time was the other night, when it seemed I had been thrown into an obscure version of the Amazing Race, Italian style, as a group of us rushed to the Mass of the Holy Spirit…

Our task: to arrive at the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio before 6:50pm.  The mass didn’t start until 7:00pm, so why, you ask, was the time so specifically 6:50pm?  Because, dear readers, that is when they closed and locked the doors to the church.  Being newly transformed Romans, we initially did not see anything particularly challenging about this.  A few of my friends had class until 5:45pm, but that gave us an hour to get downtown, and so everything still seemed just dandy.  Once class was out, the group of us bounded up the road to the bus stop and waited patiently for the 990.

…And that was our first challenge: the 990-bus.  Even though we knew that the 990 was notorious for being late, we all still had false hopes that the Italian bus system matched that of Chicago’s.  However, when 6:00pm rolled around, we finally realized once and for all that this was tragically not the case.  As we started getting anxious and even contemplated taking a cab, the 990 finally flew around the corner and screeched to a nail-biting stop.  Once on, the ride itself was even more of an adventure.  Vespas were flying past us and weaving speedily in front of us while our driver used his ninja-like reflexes to hit the brakes just in time, making all of us lurch forward.  Finally, feeling like we were reaching our destination, we all let out a long held in sigh and relaxed…all too soon.  For we soon found ourselves at a dead stop with horrendous traffic surrounding us.  When we finally arrived at the Piazza Cavour stop, our stop, we felt there was absolutely no hope we would get to mass: it was 6:37pm.  However, we decided to go for it, to sprint to the finish.  Or at least, let a taxi sprint for us to the finish.

…And that was our second, and thankfully last, challenge: the taxi.  Seeing a taxi stand across the street, the eight of us dodged passing Fiats, split into two groups, and grabbed a taxi.  The first group was soon racing off to the chiesa, leaving my group behind.  The taxi we had picked proved fruitless.  As we shouted the address to the driver and started to climb in, the driver started muttering in Italian and waving his arms emphatically.  We took this, correctly, to mean he didn’t want us, and, therefore, would not drive us anywhere.  Slightly crushed and definitely confused, we went hopefully to another taxi.  The driver, a very friendly woman, graciously ushered us in and we were finally off to our ultimate destination.  With hands gripped around our seat belts, we sped through the streets of Rome, through tiny, narrow alleys that would never constitute as streets anywhere other than in Italy.  We kept checking the watch and found the time always tantalizingly closer to 6:50pm.  Each time we thought we were at the chiesa, the taxi sped around a different corner.  When, finally, we arrived at the chiesa, the clock read 6:54pm.  We stepped out of the cab, just glad that we had finally made it, but strongly doubting our ability to enter the church.

But, as God would have it, many other JFRC students, faculty, and staff were arriving at the same time we were.  We joined a much larger group and walked quietly, and tardily, into the breathtaking sanctuary.  The mass, and dinner that followed, was completely worth all the anxiety and hassle we went through that night.  That night we all came together as a community, one that would be together for the next three months and help each other adjust to this new culture and new home.  Italy may have its quirks, but as you look around and see what this country has to offer, you somehow grow to appreciate them.

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