My First Weekend

Bob Dylan opened for the Pope with a free concert sponsored by the church Friday night. The Catholics are trying to get a new look and launch themselves into the second millennium with an attraction for young people. The interesting thing is that for the Italian youth Dylan is not as well known as he is in the states, especially for young people. I was told of an Italian rock star who had a concert on the same night as Dylan in the same town (Milan) a few months ago, and Dylan had 10,000 fans and the 'other' musician had about 50,000 fans.

On the same outdoor modern stage that all of the these angelic-like religious rituals have been going on all week, I was impressed to sit on a wonderful sunny Friday afternoon and watch the heavenly alter being transformed into a modern 'rock stage'. That evening there were four bands playing. This was a free concert open to all ages to come and enjoy the (too) loud music. It was quite a sight to see all of these old wonderful mediaeval building with the loud electric guitar sound bouncing all over the place.

My feeling is that if they really wanted to bring the church into the modern age they should have had the Papa come on stage with Dylan for a guest appearance of 'Knocking on Heavens Door'. That simple act would have propelled the church into the 21st century with a new attitude for all, especially for the young people!

Francesco (Frenchy, my house mate) and I were talking and I asked him if he worked tomorrow. He said no. So we decided to go to Piazza Maggiore and watch the 'Pope Week' activities as they begin to wind down. Somewhere in the discussion it became apparent to me that it was not Friday, but Saturday. I was amazed that for about four days I thought that it was a day earlier. That seems to be the effect of transcontinental travel.

That was such an amazing realization! I have never done that before. So, having to readjust my internal clock, I was able to get back with the here and now.

So we went to the Piazza to see what was going on. That day there was going to be the national Carabinieri (police) band playing, and a free 'taste of local Bolognesse cuisine'. The Carabinieri were dressed in traditional uniforms that, according to history, were designed by Michelangelo.

We got there early watching and photographing the herds of people milling about and celebrating the day.

It seems that where ever I go I still carry the 'look' of a person who knows how cameras work, or that I am willing to help. I used to spend my summers in Yosemite National Park teaching literally thousands of tourists how to use all of the equipment they have that is too much and more than they need. I have always enjoyed helping people, but I was surprised that my 'boy scouting look of being willing to help the old lady across the street' syndrome carried over to a different country.

Perhaps the highlight of the day came after we were overwhelmed by all of the religious activities. I found Frenchy and we decided to get away from the crowds and go to a cafe and have a gelato and relax. As we were going out of the Piazza we noticed a large number flashing lights and all of the Carabinieri moving around with excitement.

Frenchy asked one of them and she said that the Papa was coming through on his way to the airport to get in the 'Pope craft' to fly home. So, we decided to wait it out and say good-bye to him personally.

All of a sudden a fleet of Mercedes came floating through with a million suits in them and from a distance I could see the famed 'Pope mobile'. There was such a flurry of excitement (and movement) that I, again almost got pushed over. But I did manage to get a few shots off.


As we were leaving the crowd started to disperse. I noticed a woman who recognized a Bishop and was very happy to see him and they exchanged pleasantries. For so many people the church represents a life giving, a saving, or a spiritual uplifting. Anytime one can get close to that 'feeling or thing' it is considered the luck of the soul. Regardless of my own feelings and history with the church, I love to see people get that 'high', no matter how, or what it is!