a VirtualTourist member
I got tickets for Wednesday, Pope audience but I don't know what to expect. Any advice on that experience. Also, what's a good location for hotel- walking around. Thank you.
I can't help with the Papal audience, I'm afraid, except to tell you to allow plenty of time for security scanning.
As you are arriving by train I'd suggest a hotel somewhere near Rome Termini. There are loads of hotels to meet all budgets in that area and it's where I always base myself. It takes about 25 minutes to walk to the Colosseum from Termini or you can take Metro or bus.
I can personally recommend these hotels near Termini:
[original VT link]
[original VT link]
Hi [VT member 1a9e71] -
I haven't been to an audience but as no one else has responded to that part of your question, hopefully some of this information will be helpful (you can skip the part about getting tickets if you already have them or instructions on where to pick them up):
You're welcome! Hope that helped. :O)
You've gotten some good suggestions for places to stay, and I would agree that accommodations close to Termini are well located for first-timers. Because being easy walking distances to some of the attractions (and we generally walk everywhere in Rome), the two metro lines cross at TErmini so its a convenient place to be if, say, you want to hop on Metro A line up to the Vatican, or the B line down to the Colosseum.
The Papal audience is called a "general" audience, because it's for you and 100,000 of your closest friends ;-). The Pope sits under a canopy on the long broad stairs leading up to the front of St. Peter's. the people are to the east, in the piazza looking towards St. Peter's.
The seats are relatively close to the front. I never had a seat at an outdoor audience - I just stood out in the piazza along with all the other hoi poloi (the common people hahaha).
Yes, as the first website that goodfish supplied points out, the Pope does a variety of readings and statements in various languages. He will give emphasis to the languages of large groups that have come to visit - when he does that language, expect loud cheering.
Pope John Paul II used to read stuff in 20 or more languages, but since his accent was so thick, every language sounded like Polish to me. ;-) Francis speaks native Spanish and Italian (although his Italian is a bit accented, but still he learned it in Argentina from his Italian grandmother). Wikipedia reports that he also speaks German, French, Portuguese, English, and he understands the Piedmontese language and some Genoese. I haven't heard him in anything but Spanish and Italian, so I don't know if they all sound like Spanish. ;-)
One thing that previous Popes did was to ride the Popemobile around in the piazza. There are large sections for people delineated by barricades, and these barricades mark off lanes that the Popemobile drive through on. In the past (and I suppose they still do), local photographers used to stand in the crowds by the barricades taking photographs as the Popemobile went by, with the intention of getting the Pope and a bunch of people in the background at the barricade opposite. Then, the next day, you would go to a particular upscale tourist shop on Borgo Pio (very near the Vatican) and go through reels and reels of strips of photos, looking for the photo with you in the background. I imagine it's all digital now, so I don't know how you preview the shots...but if there is money to be made, someone will supply it.
Believe it or not, we actually found our photo of my buddy Joe and I behind JP II. Well, sort of...you could recognize Joe by his Australian bush hat and me as the distinctive (and receding) part in the hair behind the 35 millimeter camera that I was shooting through...
Anyway, if they still do this and you want to get in on it, you will need to work your way over to the barricades as he starts riding around, so that you can get your not-quite-selfie with the Pope.
During the summer and periods of good weather, the audience is out in the piazza, but if the weather is really rainy and bad, the audience may get relocated into the Paul VI Audience Hall that is through the gate on the south side of the barricades. It holds 10,000-15,000 people (I didn't count when I was in there), so it's a good thing you have tickets, because probably only those with tickets will be allowed in.
Anyway, expect crowds and sun (if you are sun-sensitive, wear a hat or other covering) and even heat in the summer...but it's not something to miss for fans of what is arguably the oldest continuing institution in the world (I think the Orthodox Christians dispute that, but they don't own Byzantium any more, or else they would be right).
LOL ! very funny and thank you for the information.