Dinner at Mikki’s and a Swiss-Guard Induction Ceremony
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 15, 2010.
I knew I had to go back to Miscellania, the rustic little restaurant that became our student hangout, have dinner, and see its crazy owner, Mikki, one more time this semester before it was over. I saved my last meal at Mikki’s for the last Sunday in Rome.
I met up with a friend and his girlfriend from back in Seattle and showed them around Rome a little. For dinner, we ended up at Miscellania near the Pantheon. Mikki speaks in such a thick Roman dialect that I always have a hard time understanding him, and it makes me feel like I’m back in Italian 101. A typical conversation of ours switches back and forth between his broken English and my broken Italian many times. This guy is never without an inappropriate comment around your friends and family once you get to know him. This time he said “I see Andy, with three girls, in bathroom last week, here” through his trademark squinty smile. It’s never too awkward because you’re laughing too hard for any silence to follow.
Anyways, he took me aside later and offered me two tickets to the induction of the latest class of Swiss Guards into the Vatican City to which I immediately RSVP’d yes.
In the end, the cool factor of having an invitation into the interior of Vatican City far outweighed the event itself. I felt so important carrying around a yellow ticket asking directions from officials to St. whoever’s gate. I finally found it and made my way up the stairs with the small well-dressed crowd and my new haircut and my own new Italian suit. We were permitted to enter a courtyard where my special yellow ticket got me farther than others’ green ones. It got me an actual seat.
Promptly at 5 o’clock, the ceremony began. On the inside of the Vatican, you’re closer to being in Switzerland than Italy. It reminded me of a middle-school band recital, complete with a token intercultural bongo-and-accordion song. After the march in, each of the 20 or so inductees marched slowly up to a flag, gripped it and barked an oath either in Italian or German. The ceremony lasted exactly 45 minutes and afterwards there was a reception in another, smaller courtyard where they were serving boxed wine and Peronis. I thought this interesting. All the new inductees were there with their proud families and chatting with medal-adorned military generals from various countries. I chatted with the guard I sat next to in a mix of French and Italian but his accent in both was very difficult to understand. He was about my age and I wondered what it would be like to be a guard here at the headquarters of a billion Roman Catholics. I left semi-sober and contemplated swiping one of the giant pikes that lined the exit hallway. It would have just been too awkward to run with.
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