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If you feel heat rising from this page, don’t be alarmed. We’ve been in Rome and it was hotter than those scary pictures of Hades. We’re pretty sure it was so hot that we’ll be radiating heat for a few years. Grab a fan or maybe a bottle of that spritzer water and spritz yourself. Sit in one of the cafes that mists its patrons. We did. It helped for a minute. Sympatico, bella. 

Rome…  gorgeous and chaotic, graffitied and marbled, peeling paint, every shade of orange stucco, pope keychains, scooters rumbling over sunken cobbles, all with the dome of St. Peter’s in the background. And the best food for a few euros. The best food. I had to say it again. 

But most shops close at noon for 3 hours, I’d forgotten that. Naptime, after all that great food. So Rome is shuttered and quiet for a few hours then in the evening, everyone comes back out, looking refreshed and in better clothes. Evenings in Italy are pretty lively and people really dress up. 

Decorativeness comes naturally here. Ideas figuring angels and heaven aren’t just in the Vatican, they’re in the dress shops, stamped on leather bags, sealed in all those church frescoes, baked into the lines of the golden stuccoed walls of houses. You can buy a good picture of heaven to wear or hang in your bathroom.  

And even if you don’t make the audience with him, you can find the Pope waving to you from every corner. This July was an exciting time to be there as Pope Francis had just released his encyclical on climate change you’ve probably heard about as it’s making waves around the Catholic and secular world. Called ‘Laudato Si’ which is medieval Italian for a 192 page paper that basically calls the people of the world (that’s us) to make an “ecological conversion.” A religious leader respecting science and evidence based policies. It’s a big deal. 

But beware the wickedness of pick-pockets. Some things never change. The rich heat can blunt ones observational skills, so that day leaving the Borghese Gardens heading to the Spanish steps, I should have noticed the burly old man (who looked nothing like the Pope) with the bags that brushed past me in too much of a hurry. Two seconds too late, I realized he’d gotten my wallets! 

Apparently, you haven’t fully seen Rome unless you’ve been to the Carabinieri (Italian police force) office. Near the Spanish steps, we buzz the local office and stand waiting outside a large green iron door. Once in, the office a dim green with bare walls, a young effective Carab took our information, but while he typed on his keyboard, he had a look on his face that said, you’re never gonna get those wallets back. When in Rome…

Well, at least I still had my phone and all those snapshots of heaven.