Day 3 May 25, 2023 (Rome)

Today was an early start with heading out the door at 7am. Took the Metro (at rush hour!) to the Ottaviano station to meet our tour guide by the Fontana delle Tiare near St. Peter’s Square. Our tour included:

  • St. Peter’s Dome Climb to the top of Michelangelo’s Cupola for great views of Rome (304 steps and yes, we climbed them!!!)
  • A tour of the Vatican Museums
  • We got to see all the classic and ancient sculptures inside the chambers, hall, and galleries
  • Inside the Sistine Chapel with a panel-by-panel tour of Michelangelo’s ceiling
  • Full tour of entire St. Peter’s Basilica covering all the major works of art and sculpture therein
  • Tour of little-know Papal Sarcophagi beneath St. Peter’s Basilica which is called the “Vatacombs”

The tour was about 5 hours and our guide was AMAZING!!! Her name was Chiara Antonelli and she was playful, knowledgeable, zipped us around groups to get to where we needed to be, and was on top of everything. She remembered all of our names and where we came from. Definitely got 5 stars in our book!

My favorite part was the Sistine Chapel. I could have sat in there all day long. If I could have, I would have laid on the floor and just stared up at the ceiling taking everything in. I got very emotional as I was looking at the works of art by a man that spent 6 years painstakingly working on this masterpiece. It was very surreal. Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures or video inside the chapel, but it is such a sacred area, one can understand why. We took quite a few pictures throughout the rest of the tour. John’s favorites were the Chapel and the Basilica.

After our tour, we headed back closer to our BNB and had a great lunch and spritzes (after all that walking, we deserved it!) and decided to eat dinner in. It will be an early night and we head to the Colosseum tomorrow! Ciao!!!

Entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica from St. Peter’s Square
The Dome over St. Peter’s Basilica from the outside.
The Dome over St. Peter’s Basilica from the inside. It’s beautiful and looks like paintings, however, it is all mosaic, made of tiny pieces of tile maybe a 1/4 inch or less square!
A view from inside of the dome to the APSE and the central nave. We were lucky enough to see a choir singing while touring the inside of the basilica.
St. Peter’s Square as viewed from outside the dome. Hard to tell from here, but it’s 320 meters long and 240 meters wide and can hold more than 300,000 people. There are 284 columns on the left and right of the square. The obelisk you see in the middle, is almost 100 feet tall and was carried by the Romans from Egypt in 1586.
This is a close up example of the mosaics inside the dome. Note the tiny squares that make it up. I believe our guide says there was over 10,000 sq meters of mosaic.
After only climbing 551 steps, we made it to the top of St. Peter’s dome.
View from the top of the dome.
In the staircase to the dome.
Another picture of the inside of the dome.
Top of the altar above St. Peter’s tomb.
The altar of St. Peter’s tomb. Hard to tell from the photo, but this masterpiece, from Bernini, is almost 100 feet tall and made of solid bronze.
Outside of the basilica with seat set up for services. The pope, at Christmas and Easter, conduct mass from the window in the middle.
This spiral staircase inside the Vatican museum was designed by Brante. It looks like one staircase, but actually it’s two, one goes up and one goes down.
Bronze pine cone was formally a Roman fountain, now part of the Vatican museum and is from the 1st century AD. The symbol of the pine cone dates back to ancient Babylon and signifies birth of the creation,.
This statue, known as the Laocoon group, was excavated in 1506. The statue is believed to be an ancient Greek statue.
Sarcophagus of St. Helena, mother Constantine the Great who died around 335 A.D.
One of the many tapestries in the Vatican gallery of tapestries, which is over 800 feet long.
Part of the ceiling the Hall of Tapestries.
Another tapestries in the hall.
Tapestry on Italy.
Don Pickard, Jr. lol! We were done with the tour and stopped for an aperol spritz.

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