This was not where I was supposed to wind up.
I was supposed to go on a tour of Italian Parliament with a group of Notre Dame students. We’d been learning about Italian politics as a part of our “cultural enrichment” activities, and the culmination of that lesson was supposed to be to see the actual seat of Italian politics.
Well, like I said, I was supposed to. Turns out, my phone bill reset on June 20, and I forgot to pay for another month of data and service. Naturally, my SIM card contract was in Italian, so it’s not like I could actually read it to know this information. It took me days to finally find someone at Vodafone who spoke English and could explain to me that the reason I suddenly couldn’t use my phone was that I hadn’t paid for another month of data.
Naturally, my Parliament tour was supposed to take place during this time when I had no service. And naturally, when I left my house, I forgot that my phone was in an unusable state, and so I headed to the Metro in the general direction of Parliament, thinking I could just use Google Maps to get me to Parliament after I got off at Piazza di Spagna.
Nope. After a few unsuccessful attempts to find a place with Wifi where I could download a map and hopefully then still make it on time for my tour, I decided to give up. I was too late, and besides, I still hadn’t figured out what direction to walk in.
So what does one do when their plans to visit Parliament are ruined?
My answer was a pity McDonalds trip. McDonalds in other countries are magical places; they’re a little slice of American culture lifted straight out of the US and deposited in a foreign land. They have free public toilets, free Wifi, and often, outlets to charge your phone — which, if you’ve been to Europe before, you know are all rare finds. They’re the real US Embassies.
But before I bought my pity milkshake and fries, I stopped into a church that happened to be open. I’ve discussed this already, but Rome is littered with old, beautiful churches — so many that honestly, they all kind of run together in my memory. It really is the Catholic Disneyworld.
Even if I sometimes tire of seeing old European churches, that doesn’t mean I won’t still pop my head in for a moment. Just like McDonalds, they can be a great way to get a way from the craziness of the city for a respite. Churches (small ones, that is — not the big tourist ones) are normally quiet, dark, and cool, which can be a lifesaver in the summer heat. They have benches to rest your feet, and in the majority of cases, they’re free to enter and you’re welcome to stay for as long as you need. Unless you’re there during mass, there’s no pressure to pray or read the Bible or talk to a priest, and a good church wouldn’t treat you any differently for not being a follower of their particular denomination or religion.
It’s the perfect place to wander into if you’re like me, and you just need somewhere cool to sit after trying unsuccessfully for an hour to get your phone to work and to find Parliament. That’s the nice thing about churches. They’re open if you need them.
(As a side note: an astute observer may notice that I edited out the cross behind me for my Instagram post. That has nothing to do with religious censorship or a desire to distance myself from religion; rather, I felt self-conscious posting a picture of myself in a church with such a somber expression right next to a cross. It looked prayerful, like a penitent nun, and I was afraid that people might misconstrue the image as an attempt to glorify myself as some kind of righteous, devout cleric. I’m not, and I don’t pretend to be. I don’t need a “God Help the Outcasts” moment. I’m just a person who wandered into a church and thought it was pretty — that’s all. To avoid any potential for people to misinterpret the meaning of the picture, I decided to just edit out the cross, as the most definitive piece of religious symbolism in the scene. Make of that what you will.)
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Dress: Vintage (thrift, Brick Lane Market)
Jacket: Thrift (Clothes Mentor)