How to do you study a nun’s habit without staring? That is the question. I am fascinated with the headpiece. It looks like a halo held in place with a plus sign on top. Or is it an open air battle ready helmet, but made of hard cardboard like the priests collars? The headpiece the nuns wear is fashioned the same as the headpiece that Mother Mary Hasselblad wore. I saw Mother Hasselblad’s picture in the chapel. Their headpiece must determine their association with Santa Brigida. In the daytime, outside the convent, the nuns walk in pairs carrying an umbrella between them to block the suns rays. In the Rome heat it would be as hot as a furnace under all that get up. I think your head would be sweating from that halo contraption.
Tonight we are walking to Piazza Navona to eat. There are so many people out and about on this Saturday night, but I wonder if it is always busy with tourists? The markets are still flourishing so I look at the hardware stand. I buy little glass jars to put the Italian spices in that I bought at another stall. I also buy a can of coffee to take to the apartment in Montepulciano. The espresso coffee is four euro for a pound and the date of use is good until 2014. I’m good to go. We could look for hours here there is so much to see, but we move on after our purchases. We get to the only street corner that so far has a stoplight, although stoplights here are only a suggestion. Nobody stops. There is a police woman here tonight and I think that is odd. The polizia wear big thick white gun holsters that cross over the body like you would wear a purse you didn’t want stolen. They don’t holster around the waist. Suddenly we hear sirens. Lots of sirens. Two motorcycle police whiz by like they are going to a fire. The police woman jumps into action preventing anyone from crossing the street. The man in front of me says, “Holy Papa, Holy Papa.” And sure enough here comes a black Mercedes and in the back seat is a smiling and waving Pope Francis. Everyone on the street is waving and shouting. It was quite the moment. How lucky we were to be at that place at that time! After the Holy Papa passes by the police woman vanishes into the crowd as more motorcycles zip past.
In the Piazza Navona tonight there are artists of all kinds. Some painting absentmindedly, with their palettes of beautiful colors, while others watch. There is also a large crowd gathered around a man in a straight jacket and chains. It is like being at the circus. Young good looking men are selling rubber band rockets that shoot high into the sky, then flash bright colors, before falling back to the ground where they run to pick them up and do it all over again. In the background the huge fountain provides a backdrop for the photo takers. We sit at the oldest restaurant on the piazza dating 1836. The food is so-so, but the people watching is fantastic. We return to the Convent again around midnight and I wonder what is in store for us tonight.
We are not disappointed. We still hear people walking and talking as they return to their homes, but around 3am there is a blood curdling scream of “aiutarmi, aiutarmi!” Help me! Help me! I also hear the voices of people trying to quiet the man down. My first thought is he is on drugs. He gets quiet only to start up minutes later, “aiutarmi, aiutarmi!” I then hear the doors of Santa Brigida open and the soft voice of a nun trying to comfort him. Everything gets quiet then and I finally fall asleep. In the morning after breakfast with the priests, the nun calls a cab for us to take to the train station. A very old man, speaking only Italian, pulls up and can hardly lift our suitcases to the trunk. We are off to Montepulciano!