Friday the 17th, I woke up to find a text message from G saying he’d booked us tickets for The Vatican.
After a quick breakfast at our hotel, we grabbed a cab into town — and experienced our first taste of crazy Italian driving when our driver collided head on a with motorcyclist coming from another direction. Amazingly, the cyclist walked away without any serious injuries.
When In Rome: Me at St. Peter's Basilica
We were only a few blocks from Vatican City, so we walked the rest of the way. My first sun-drenched glimpse of St. Peter’s Basilica, much like it did on my initial visit to Rome sixteen years ago, left me more than a little awestruck. I thought of my late and adored parents, and how grateful I am they gave me an appreciation for art and history in all its spendors.
Our three-hour plus tour took us through the Vatican Museums and, of course, Michelangelo’s masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel. G had never been to the Vatican before, so it was doubly special experiencing it through his eyes as well.
Once the tour ended, we paused for a panini before strolling hand in hand along a nearby bridge. A perfect afternoon.
For dinner, G and I went to Rome’s popular Trastevere district, where we settled into an outdoor table overlooking a square buzzing with performers and other activity.
G opened up about a recent cancer scare, admitting that was why he didn’t hesitate to join me in Rome for the weekend, and we both became a little emotional. The conversation then turned to US foreign policy and G’s dim view of how international travelers to America are treated. All of a sudden, he brought up 9/11 and said–
“At least it taught America that it’s not Superman.”
I immediately got up from the table and went to the bathroom, furious and upset at G’s remark. When I returned, an argument ensued.
“I think your behavior right now was quite rude,” he said.
“My behavior? Well, I think it’s quite rude to say what you said about 9/11.”
G proceeded to get very angry, saying I had misinterpreted his comment, that he couldn’t believe I would think he felt 9/11 was a good thing. And then he persisted in criticizing US political actions past and present, telling me–
“Why are you taking it personally? I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about your country.”
And so I came to appreciate one of the greatest differences between Germans (and, to a great extent, many Europeans) and Americans. Whatever our nation’s shortcomings might be, we adore our country and are not shy about saying so. I also happened to have a mother who was deeply patriotic — and who adored being a New Yorker, as I do.
After G made his remark about 9/11, I couldn’t help thinking about that “Sex And The City” episode where Carrie is chatting with a sailor and he bashes NYC. She says goodnight immediately, musing–
“If you…only get one great love, maybe New York was mine. And I can’t have nobody talking sh*t about my boyfriend.”
Miss Bradshaw, I know exactly what you mean.