I think the best way to explore Rome is on foot - I had a feeling that it would be quite hard walking on all those cobbles, so before I came out I purchased some walking shoes. These shoes are incredibly comfortable but have the disadvantage of giving me nun's feet (I keep going on about nuns) and are not a good look (unless you are round the Vatican like I was yesterday..).
It was incredibly crowded, I just went for a quick look to see what it was like and to wander around the gift shops selling religious things. I have been really looking forward to this, as I am a huge lover of tat. Actually I was a little disappointed as the gift shops were mostly incredibly tasteful and really, really expensive. What interests me most about tat and very cheap articles is not the bad taste aspect of them (which does appeal hugely) but is how something so cheap and simple can carry such importance for people in negotiating how they remember things. So actually I am interested much more in the symbolic things which happen when a person who might not have much money wants a reminder of a beautiful or important experience, like going to St Peter's; I find this an extremely touching and special aspect.
Having said all that I did go to another religious shop in another part of Rome and purchased some obscenely wonderful stuff - look at this!!!
It glows in the dark! Actually I did see one of these in a Vatican gift shop (there are loads of gift shops around there) and it was 4 times more expensive in the Vatican area..outrageous! Anyway, I don't have to tell you that having nun's feet really helps in purchasing this sort of stuff...
I also found a plastic Arlady which lights up - I tried her out in a few pictures after a talk which Christopher the Director of the BSR gave last week titled "Locating the Sacred'. It was really good and fired up my imagination a bit as he was talking about the 'strong magic' of water (any mention of magic makes my ears prick up) and also about the sacredness of it too. So here are a couple of images which his talk inspired..