Our Roman Holiday over my birthday weekend began with visiting the Basilica Papale di San Pietro. But, before I begin recounting our experience, I’d like to give a shoutout to you all who like us prefer preparing your own itinerary. It certainly helps explore the city at our own pace. As far as the rest of you are concerned, here’s a small piece of advice: it is always a good idea to choose your BnB or a hotel close to the places you’re going to visit. Not only do you save money but also a good deal of time. We did the same; we chose Little Heaven Bed and Breakfast which is 5 minutes from Ottaviano Metro Station.
We had a good stay there and couldn’t have asked for more. The connectivity with the other places which were on our list were located on the Anagnina–Battistini line. From the metro stations all we had to do was walk around no less than a couple of minutes. Make sure you pick your map from the bus ticket vendors at the airport or better still download an app called Moovit which gives you live directions. It really helps!
The first view of the Vatican City was of course when we walked towards it, but our BnB too had something to offer. We just had to pop our heads out of the window to be able to see the walls of the Vatican museum and the crazy queue!
On day 1 of our stay in Rome and as per our itinerary, we were to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Di San Pietro, Castle San Angelo and Piazza Navano. In this blog however, I’m going to focus only on St. Peter’s Basilica and the rest will be in the next couple of blogs ~
Just 2 minutes from the hotel towards the Basilica we bump into this this young musician on street who played the accordion impeccably and set the tone of the rest of our day!
As you can make out from the photograph below the Piazza was closed because we believe there was probably a congregation that happened either earlier during the day or a couple of days ago. The chairs were sprawled out and we had to walk around it both on our way in and out. But, that wasn’t really disappointing and fortunately it didn’t take us a lot of time to get inside the Basilica. There were dense clouds overhead but mostly sunny as the clouds were carried away by the wind!
There are about 13 obelisks standing tall in Rome and were brought by Roman emperors. However this obelisk that you see standing before the Basilica is the only ancient Egyptian obelisk. It took about 13 months to move and re-erect it. If a legend is to be believed the cross has the relics of Jesus Christ.
Here’s another interesting thing I read up on the internet: while the obelisk was being re-erected the ropes holding it began to smoke due to friction. Timely intervention by a sailor named Benedetto Bresca helped prevent the disaster and for which his town was granted a special privilege of providing palms that are used at the Basilica every Palm Sunday!
Who doesn’t know that Vatican City is a walled enclave or a sovereign state within another country which doesn’t need a separate passport for people to visit. It is protected by Swiss guards who of course guard the Pope too. Though they may look like court jesters these guards are part of the world’s smallest military force made up of top ex-Swiss soldiers who know their way around the finest ammunition in the world. They are appointed by the Pope himself and are allowed to marry on a few grounds. The new guards are sworn in on 6 May every year.
Now here are a few photographs from inside the Basilica:
The Pietà is a masterpiece by Michelangelo and the only one ever signed by the sculptor. It shows Jesus in the lap of Mother Mary after crucifixion. Her face laden with despair while she holds her son’s lifeless body.
Did you know that originally the sculpture was made for the cardinal Jean de Bilhères’ funeral monument but was moved to the first chapel on the right the moment you enter the Basilica.
Michelangelo himself had explained to his biographer and fellow sculptor as to why he’d sculpted Madonna as a young woman. He is quoted saying:
“”Do you not know that chaste women stay fresh much more than those who are not chaste? How much more in the case of the Virgin, who had never experienced the least lascivious desire that might change her body?” (Source Wikipedia)
Everything inside the Basilica is grand. There’s so much that calls for your attention and don’t worry if you have your jaw drop looking at the masterpieces.
We were spellbound throughout our time inside and kept wondering about the kind of effort that must have gone into making this church!
Have you been to St Peter’s Basilica? Were you swept off your feet like we were?