Here comes the Pope (Arriva Il Papa)

Here comes the Pope (Arriva Il Papa)

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

I’m chalking this up to bad luck. It seems a bit churlish to compare the visit of Papa Francesco to the sciopero (strike) of transportation workers in Torino but the effect is the same. The security measures threw the city (at least as it affected me) into chaos for two days. Many of the buses were rerouted. The major street that gave me access to the city center (via Saragozza) was closed as of 2 PM on Saturday to all traffic until Sunday night. The pope came in for a whirlwind tour on Sunday.

The security measure were quite substantial. A large number of streets were totally closed to traffic of any sort, including bicycles along the routes that he took. All parking was totally forbidden and any parked vehicles were towed. They removed all of the dumpsters that usually are along the streets as well as the trash-cans. After all you don’t need a very large container to hide a bomb. There were 20 special city buses used to move people to the stadium as well as added trains to transport people to and from the city. There were police, carabiniere and military in evidence. Even the firefighter were pressed into service as part of the security team as well as bunch of volunteers. In all the local paper said that there were over 600 police of one sort or another as well as over 1000 volunteers. On Saturday I went to the center to look around a bit before the Sunday arrival of Il Papa.

You have been warned – forced removal if parked within 50 meters

The normal Via Saragozza with dumpsters, cars and scooters parked there.

Via Saragozza ready for the pope.

Side streets free of cars for 50 meters.

Bidone (trash cans) removed from their stands along the street.

The normal arrangement – trashcan (bidone) below and ashtray (portacenere) above.

He had a full schedule. He arrived by helicopter at 10:30 on Sunday morning. He then met with immigrants housed nearby. Then went to the center of the city, Piazza Maggiore, where he recited “the Angelus” a catholic prayer before 5000 people in this magnificent piazza. Then there was a lunch for 1000 needy persons, selected by the church officials ,in San Petronio, the very large basilica in the very center of the city. Then onto the Cathedral of San Pietro (the duomo of the city) to meet with clerics of various sorts, and later to yet another church where he welcomed university students. Finally he left there and went to the soccer stadium to celebrate mass with 45 thousand before heading back to his helicopter. A pope needs a lot of stamina.

Lunch preparations inside the Basilica of San Petronio for 1000 of the needy with the pope on Sunday.

The media is ready to cover everything live.

On Sunday I made my way to the center. Not easy since most buses were either not running at all due to street closures or taking routes far out of my way. So I walked to the end of Saragozza ( about a kilometer) then took a bus to Porta Santo Stefano. That street was totally closed to buses so I walked to Piazza Maggiore (1.6 kilometers) – which was closed to those who had not obtained a ticket. So to return home, I took the same route so I walked over 5 km – about 3.2 miles – whew!

Line of security vehicles near the very center of town after the pope had already arrived. He was at that time inside San Petronio having lunch.

Another street closed near the center.

After returning I waited along Saragozza with lots of others for the pope to pass there on his way to the stadium.

People lined up in both directions.

Probably mostly people, like me, who live nearby.

And finally, here comes the pope!

Arriva Il Papa!

It’s been 20 years since the last papal visit and I think that a lot of the residents are hoping that it will be another 20 years before the next one. Still it was quite an event for the city. Despite it all, I like this pope and wish him well. He is clearly working hard to modernize the church which is very difficult for a huge and generally conservative institution with an almost 2000 year history.

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