The Holy City of Rome is beautiful and impressive gallery of historical sites, churches and cathedrals. But on Sunday around lunchtime it is as sleepy as a small village in a lost valley. And at exactly that time our tourist bus stopped in front of Vatican gates.

“You have one hour for looking around or shopping,” says our Slovak guide optimistically.

He did not notice that there was no place for shopping and nothing too much to look around at. Most members of our tourist group resigned to this fact and tried to find a toilet or munched on their last home-made sandwich. But my wife and I had an important duty – to buy something, in the worst case anything, for our relatives back home. How we should explain them that we did not found time to acquire some “typical Italian” articles when in Rome? Well, we had time, but little hope.

“It’s no good,” said my wife, “maybe we will buy something on the way

back home.”

“Forget it,” I answered, “our drivers will try to reach home so quickly that it will be difficult to stop them even at borders.”

I knew that there was only one solution to this problem – a miracle. And where else if not in Holy City?!

“Let us go,” I said.

“Where?” asked my wife.

“Let us go and we will see,” I said, and went. My wife followed me as generations of other wives before her followed their foolish husbands – with resignation and reluctance. But we moved, at least.

Taliansko, Zázrak, ilustr. Vanek

Taliansko, Zázrak, ilustr. Vanek

I chose a direction impulsively turning left from Saint Peter’s Square down a long, deserted street. It was hopeless. Not only was there not one shop open; worse, there were no shops at all. But I insisted we would find one, and my wife stopped complaining. We didn’t talk. In fact there was nothing to talk about. The only sounds we heard in the hot sunny midday were our steps and voices of people over the sounds from spoons, knives and forks celebrating Sunday lunch. There can be hardly a less sensible mission. But it did not last long – after a few hundred meters we came to the outskirts of the city! It was hard to believe that this giant town ended only a short walk from the city center, but according to all indications there was nowhere to go. The street changed into a little lane leading to some pine woods. There couldn’t be a less promising place for shopping.

My wife start smiling the way that generations of wives before her have shown their foolish husbands that this particular idea was another one that failed. I wanted to say something to her, but words can’t help. Our pilgrimage for a miracle ended with a failure. It was time to turn back.

As we turned – we saw it. Not only a shop and not only an open shop, but a whole shopping center – open for business! It was on the opposite side of street and somehow hidden from the direction we came. Our shopping spree did not last long. We were the only customers in the whole shop, and there was only one cashier. As we were approaching her with shopping-cart full of ’typical Italian gifts’ I saw a shelf with razors.

You certainly know that paradox – you can buy classic razors cheaply but replacement blades are really costly. And here they had blades for a relatively low price, and I desperately needed some new ones back home. This was a bonus on top of our shopping! But there was only a small problem. We had no more money left. For a while I stood with my wife in front of the shelf and tried to calculate and recalculate what could we leave out from the gifts to our relatives, but we had already made the list as short as possible. Well, miracles have limitations. So, I had to forget about razor blades. We moved to the cashier and paid for our shopping.

While I was paying, my wife pushed shopping-cart to the exit. I followed my wife and I suddenly saw something falling from the shopping-cart. I was stunned for a moment. It was the package of blades we had not been able to buy. I looked at my wife, but she was occupied by packing our goods. I looked at the cashier, but she did not even look in our direction. I reached for the gift fallen from heaven and went to show it to my wife. It was unbelievable. There is no explanation how the package of blades hopped into our shopping-cart. We were too far from the shelf, and we were merely glancing at it. Nothing more. But the blades were here in my hand and my wife put it into plastic bag without hesitation.

“That’s bonus from God, you shopping genius,” said she, and hurried me back to the bus.

Well, this was really a little miracle. Only one thing I had to add – I am not an expert on razor blades, and it seems that God isn’t either. Coming home I soon realized that the blades from Rome’s miracle shopping center were not the type useful for my razor. Well, even miracles have definitively their limitations.

 

From a book (see in E-book form here) by Gustáv Murín: Svet je malý/The World is Small – collection of travel stories in bilingual Slovak–English edition, vyd. SPN, 2012.