Pope Francis, a lover of classical music, slipped out of the Vatican on Tuesday evening to visit old friends who run a Rome record shop and came away with a gift of a CD.
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has long lamented that he can't walk around town unnoticed like he used to before becoming pope. But he seems to have nevertheless kept his sense of humor after he was caught on camera making an unannounced visit to a Rome record shop this week.
Francis wrote a note to the Vatican reporter who happened to be in the right place at the right time Tuesday evening when the pope slipped out of the Vatican to bless the newly renovated Stereo Sound shop near the Pantheon.
Javier Martinez-Brocal, director of the Rome Reports news agency, filmed Francis leaving the shop, in footage that went viral and even got written up in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
Keep scrolling for a gallery of photo highlights from the life of Pope Francis
Martinez-Brocal wrote the pope a note afterward, explaining that he wasn't a paparazzo and regretting Francis can't move around unnoticed anymore, but adding that the story provided a much-needed dose of good news for a world inundated with tragedy.
"I won't deny that it was (bad luck) that after taking all the precautions, there was a journalist waiting for someone on the taxi line," Francis replied. But he added: "You can't lose your sense of humor."
In this image from video made available by Javier Martinez Brocal of Rome Reports, Pope Francis leaves a record shop in Rome, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.
Writing in his trademark tiny script, Francis then repeated that what he misses most about being pope is no longer being able to take walks, as he used to do in Buenos Aires. The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was known for taking public transport around the Argentine capital, eschewing the private cars that fellow cardinals usually take to visit parishes. He became pope in 2013.
Francis acknowledged that Martinez-Brocal was only doing his job as a journalist when he recorded the event. "Thank you for doing your vocation, even if it put the pope in difficulty," he quipped.
The shop owners later told The Associated Press that Francis had arrived unannounced at around 7 p.m., after he had told them during a previous encounter at the Vatican that he would come to visit. "He walked in the shop and it was an amazing meeting. And as he promised, he blessed the shop," said shop owner Tiziana Esposito.
Co-owner Danilo Genio said Francis was a longtime customer who had popped in whenever he was in Rome for meetings at the Vatican when he was a priest, archbishop and then cardinal in Buenos Aires.
"When he came to Rome to go to the Vatican he used to come here first to buy some gifts," he said.
Francis, who grew up listening to opera on the radio and loves tango, Mozart and Wagner, didn't buy anything this time around. But the shop owners gave him a CD of classical music.
Photos: Pope Francis through the years
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, celebrates a Mass in honor of Pope John Paul II at the Buenos Aires Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Argentina in this April 4, 2005 file photo. (AP Photo/ Natacha Pisarenko, file)
Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio gives a mass outside the San Cayetano church in Buenos Aires, Friday Aug.7, 2009. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2009 file photo, Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, right, greets faithful outside the San Cayetano church in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis visits with journalists during the papal flight direct to Rio de Janeiro, Monday, July 22, 2013. Francis, the 76-year-old Argentine who became the church's first pontiff from the Americas in March, returns to the embrace of Latin America to preside over the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day festival. During his flight from Rome, Francis warned about youth unemployment in some countries in the double digits, telling about 70 journalists aboard the papal plane that there is a "risk of having a generation that hasn't worked." He said, "Young people at this moment are in crisis." (AP Photo/Luca Zennaro, Pool)
Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square to attend his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis waves as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his inauguration Mass at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Pope Francis conducts Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis and President Barack Obama smile as they exchange gifts, at the Vatican Thursday, March 27, 2014. President Barack Obama called himself a "great admirer" of Pope Francis as he sat down at the Vatican Thursday with the pontiff he considers a kindred spirit on issues of economic inequality. Their historic first meeting comes as Obama's administration and the church remain deeply split on issues of abortion and contraception. (AP Photo/Gabriel Bouys, Pool)
Pope Francis kisses a baby handed to him as he is driven through the crowd during his general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, center, enters Madison Square Garden to celebrate Mass, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 New York. (Andrew Burton/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis hugs Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, right, before pushing open the Holy Door, seen in the background, during a ceremony marking the start of the Holy Year, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. Pope Francis pushed open the great bronze doors of St. Peter's Basilica on Tuesday to launch his Holy Year of Mercy, declaring that mercy trumps moralizing in his Catholic Church. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
RETRANSMITTING TO PROVIDE TIGHTER CROP OF XLB116. Pope Francis prays at the gravestones of an Austro-Hungarian cemetery in Fogliano di Redipuglia, northern Italy, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. Pope Francis will confront a piece of his own family history when he visits a World War I memorial Saturday built amid the battlefields where his grandfather fought in the brutal Italian offensive against the Austro-Hungarian empire, surviving to impress upon the future pope the horrors of war. Francis' aim is by recalling those who died in the first World War that broke out 100 years ago is to honor the victims of all wars, and it comes at a time when his calls for peace have grown ever more urgent amid new threats. The pontiff will pray first among the neat rows of gravestones for fallen soldiers from five nations buried a tidy, enclosed Austro-Hungarian cemetery, then travel by car just a couple of hundred meters to Italy's largest war memorial, a grandiose Fascist-era monument to 100,000 fallen Italian soldiers, for an open-air mass. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Pope Francis meets Cuba's Fidel Castro, as Castro's wife Dalia Soto del Valle looks on, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. The Vatican described the 40-minute meeting at Castro's residence as informal and familial, with an exchange of books. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)
Pope Francis addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Pope Francis meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on the occasion of a private audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, to mark Epiphany, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The Epiphany day, is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
President Barack Obama and Pope Francis walk down the Colonnade before meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Pope Francis is silhouetted as he leaves after his private audience with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea, at the Vatican, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool)
Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. Listening behind the pope are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Pope Francis prays as he holds an envelope before placing it in on of the cracks between the stones of the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, in the old city of Jerusalem, Israel, Monday, May 26, 2014. The Vatican hasn't said if the contents of Francis' prayer would be released. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool)
Pope Francis arrives to address the European Parliament, Tuesday Nov. 25, 2014 in Strasbourg, eastern France. The pontiff's whirlwind, four-hour visit to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Europe's main human rights body, in Strasbourg is shaping up as more of a secular stop than a liturgical layover.(AP Photo/Christian Hartmann, Pool)
Pope Francis waves to a cheering crowd of faithful as he drives by in a public transportation tram he used to reach the venue of the World Youth Days in Krakow, Poland, Thursday, July 28, 2016. Pope Francis is in Poland for a five-day pastoral visit and to attend the 31st World Youth Days. (Stefano Rellandini/Pool photo via AP)
Pope Francis frees a dove after meeting with the Assyro-Chaldean community in the Chaldean catholic church of St. Simon Bar Sabbae in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. The pontiff is traveling to Georgia and Azerbaijan for a three-day visit. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis holds the book of the Gospels as he celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A boy takes a selfie with Pope Francis, during a visit to the parish of Santa Maria Josefa del Cuore di Gesu', in Rome, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump meet with Pope Francis, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)
A gust of wind captures Pope Francis' skull cup after he prayed on the tomb of Bishop Tonino Bello on the 25th anniversary of his death, in Alessano, Southern Italy, Friday, April 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis poses for photos with a group from Mexico wearing traditional clothes, during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis twirls a soccer ball he was presented by a member of the Circus of Cuba, during his weekly general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Flanked by Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela, right, and first lady Lorena Castillo, Pope Francis arrives at the foreign ministry headquarters Palacio Bolivar, in Panama City, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Francis opens his first full day Thursday with a visit to the presidential palace and ends with an evening welcome for young Catholics who have gathered in Panama for World Youth Day. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at the Saint Joseph Catholic Cathedral, in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, May 31, 2019. Francis began a three-day pilgrimage to Romania on Friday that in many ways is completing the 1999 trip by St. John Paul II that marked the first-ever papal visit to a majority Orthodox country. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is kissed by a man during his weekly general audience, at the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 5, 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli)
Pope Francis meets Spider-Man, who presents him with his mask, at the end of his weekly general audience with a limited number of faithful in the San Damaso Courtyard at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The masked man works with sick children in hospitals. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
US President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with Pope Francis as they meet at the Vatican, Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. President Joe Biden is set to meet with Pope Francis on Friday at the Vatican, where the world’s two most notable Roman Catholics plan to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and poverty. The president takes pride in his Catholic faith, using it as moral guidepost to shape many of his social and economic policies. (Vatican Media via AP)
Paolo Santalucia contributed to this story.