For the love of Pope Francis

6am rise to scoff down breakfast and head straight for the Vatican; apparently the trick is to arrive early for the best seats. We are in the reserved section but the seats are not allocated so the earlier we arrive the better chance we have of a good seat.

Our aim is to be at the Vatican by 730am so the rush is on to pack up our room. We are sad to leave this place, the rooms are big and the large marble bathroom is a seller, wi-fi here is the down fall but the concierge is a really fun guy #Pros&Cons.

We eat breakfast on the roof top and I enjoy the best stewed apples for the final time. We really got to know the gorgeous hostess so it was sad to say our goodbyes. Full praise to her for doing the best she can to provide a fulfilling life for her kid.

Last minute check of our room before bolting to the Vatican and arriving at 745am to people everywhere and stacks of sun. Pretty rapt that we manage to get ourselves into the allocated seating section. A combination of Anton’s Italian and me never allowing a good challenge to go by – got us into the front section.

Our new Italian mates seated around us are bloody rippers and decided to chant when they realised we were imports #AussieAussieAussie – Bit Cute! These Italians are from different parts of Italy and come every month to the Pope’s mass. The crowd around us is incredible.

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The Pope mobile drove around the fenced areas and he stopped at us and gave us his blessing.

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People are screaming around us and many crying, I even shed a few tears because it is so overwhelming. The Pope then went around the whole Vatican stopping to bless people and picking up babies, children and those with disabilities to bless. It is unbelievable to see and hear how crazy this crowd is going.

A mass is said in German, English, Italian, French, Spanish and Russian. The Pope delivered a homily about the Virgin Mary in Italian. He made comment that in our lives and our hearts we should be building a strong faith and relationship with god. The remainder of the prayers and service tied into his homily, outlining we all as Catholics have a responsibility to help the voiceless.

As we leave the Vatican there are a number of elderly women above 75 years of age with visible impairments lying on the ground neglected and unclean, begging for money. There appears to be many elderly homeless in Rome.

We make a mad rush all the way to the other side of the city for the Colosseum, which we missed out on getting into yesterday.

Very pleased we pre booked tickets to avoid the queues. Inside this stadium we learnt about the epic battles that took place between; beast vs beast, man vs man and man vs beast, until the death of one. How harsh it would have been to watch these acts, it’s even difficult to think about it.

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Time is of the essence so it’s a speedy tour and then a dash back to the hotel. We grab the car and make tracks for our five hour trip down south to spend time with Anton’s family.

I really want to stop at Napoli on the way down; many have said we shouldn’t unless we want our car and luggage stolen. I secretly want to see what all the fuss is about but probably don’t need the headache this late in the trip if something goes wrong.

The drive down South is lovely (and bloody epic), similar to the mountains through Switzerland but with a mix of the Cinque Terre. The hills are fairly intense and they add a bit of time to our trip.

It’s dark and windy through the mountains; we’ve travelled for about seven hours. We arrive in San Lucido at 11pm – feeling a tad bad that we have kept the family waiting all night.

We meet Anton’s Uncle Agostino and his cousins Andre, Marco, Daniella and her husband Lorenzo and their son Danielle. The whole family are here except Anton’s Aunty, she sadly passed away at the age of 39 from a rare disease under the umbrella of Alzheimer’s. This disease is unique to Anton’s family and has unfortunately taken the lives of a number of family members at a young age.

We are greeted with lots of hugs and kisses; it is beautiful to watch Anton hang out with his family at their home for the first time. Kindly, they have made a scrumptious home made Italian spread for us.

Salami, olives, melanzana, cheeses, pickled red onions, prosciutto, meat casserole and fresh crusty bread all delicious foods on the one table and all made with so much love.

There is bottles of homemade rosso vino, grappa and amaro. Our mouths are sweetened with fresh garden strawberries and gelato and THE MOST AMAZING NUTELLA TIRAMISU that has changed my life forever- made with love by Andre’s girlfriend Federica. I can’t even explain how delicious this is!

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We sit around the table chatting; Anton translated when required although I can converse with Marco and Daniella as their English is great. Daniella is actually studying English and has an exam for this tomorrow.

In the earlier hours of the morning we are taken to our b&b called Hotel Caterina, over looking the Mediterranean Sea. Breath taking views and a balmy night will make for peaceful nights sleep. We are taken on a little yonder around the town and finally lay to rest in our abode.. X

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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