A funny thing happened on the way to the Vatican

One of the places I was most excited to go in Rome actually isn’t in Rome at all. I was really looking forward to visiting Vatican City, seeing the Sistine Chapel and walking in St. Peter’s square. I think part of my fascination has to do with the historical significance, part has to do with my own family history of Catholicism, and it’s all heightened by being there during the final days of Pope Benedict’s papacy — something we couldn’t have planned for or anticipated when we were organizing our trip.

I’m a planner, and since I’d heard that the lines for entry into the Vatican Museum (which culminates in the Sistine Chapel) can be long and frustrating, I decided to splurge for the extra €4/adult to reserve an entry time. Our appointment was at 9:00. I knew it might be tough to make that, with 6 people to get up, fed and ready, but I wanted to get through the museum (and all the way to the Sistine Chapel) before the kids couldn’t take any more.

This morning, we were on our way, but we were running a bit late. I had planned a bit of extra time in to our schedule, but we had pretty much eaten all of that up with breakfast and getting out the door. I was a little stressed. We had to catch a cab, get to the museum, and find where we needed to be, with just over 20 minutes to go. I didn’t know if the ticket times were strict, so I wanted to be on time, or even a little early. Luckily, we hailed a cab quickly, and got to the gate of the Vatican museum in 10 minutes. We pulled up, got out, and got the stroller set up while Amanda was paying the cab driver, and I glanced at the time — about 10 minutes to go. Perfect! Whew!

And then Amanda realized that she didn’t have her phone, and the cab had already pulled away.

Minor panic ensued. She wasn’t entirely sure that she’d had it when we left the hotel. We started by flagging down the next cab from the same company that came by. We were hoping that maybe they had some way to call each other between cabs. No luck.

We called our hotel. We asked them to call the cab company. Then we called back and asked them to check our room. (It wasn’t there.) Then we called back and tried to get their help finding the U.S. customer service number for AT&T Wireless. We were having a really hard time making any progress. Amanda was pretty despondent and getting progressively more worried. (She didn’t want someone to find the phone and make expensive calls.)

She was pretty sure she wouldn’t get her phone back. I was thinking that if we had found it, we would have worked hard to return it, so I didn’t want to give up hope.

We waited right at the same spot where the cab dropped us off, just in case. Our hotel hadn’t had any luck — since we’d hailed our cab, instead of calling, the company didn’t have a record of the trip. And, the hotel couldn’t find the right number for the phone company. So, we went to try and find some Wi-Fi so we could try to shut the phone off ourselves.

We found some, looked up the number of the phone company, and started through the automatic phone universe of AT&T. As we stood there, pressing 1, or 2, or 7, as appropriate, we thought we saw the cab drive by — the one that dropped us off.

We hopped out the cafe door and started running (up hill, of course). We didn’t know if he was stopping, if he was picking someone up or dropping them off, or if he just happened to be driving up the street.

Yay!!! He was there! He had come back, just to bring the phone. The hotel had called the cab company back, and they had tracked down the right cab. The driver, of his own accord, on the chance that we’d still be there, even though 40 minutes had passed, drove back to the Vatican. And there we were. And we had the phone back.

We were so excited and so happy. Amanda was crying. I gave the cab driver €20 (he tried to say no, but I insisted). A newspaper seller on the corner saw the whole exchange happen, and said, “This is Italia! You don’t need to cry — everything is good here!”

And even though we were almost 45 minutes late for our appointment, we had no problem getting in to the museum. All was well.

Viva Italia! Viva Rome! We love it here.

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