Thursday, October 22, 2015

St. Peter's Basilica - Thursday Morning

Sadly we were woken very early this morning (around 5 am) to someone talking very loudly nearby. Not sure where it was coming from but there was no going back to sleep. Neither of us had much of a sleep anyways.  It is going to take some time to get over this jet lag.  I really don't know how people can fly all the way over here for just a week with a 9 hour time change.  Maybe I am just getting old.

Anyways, our day began early and we figured lets just go for it.  So we got up and showered and had some cereal and tea (so nice having a kitchen).

Today we are heading to St. Peter's Basilica.  We booked a tour to see the Necropolis where the tomb of St. Peter is. This is an amazing event and only a couple hundred a day get to visit, and the groups are limited to 12.

I booked this tour last May when the dates opened.  If you are at all interested make sure you reserve as soon as possible.  You can find links to all the tours here. You are wanting tickets to the Necropolis and you can only reserve by sending them an email.  Once they notify you of space  you have to send them payment.  For us in 2015 the cost was 13E each.  We paid this via credit card and then they sent us confirmation.

Back to our day.... we walked out of the apartment and turned right and four blocks away is Manzoni Metro Station. We buy our 1.50E tickets and head down and jump on the train, only to realize after the first stop we are going the wrong way.  Jump out and cross the platform to the train going in the other direction.  Of course it is busy it is 8 am and everyone is going to work.  But after a few stops it clears out and we take the metro to Ottaviano Station.  The signs are very clear on where to go, just look for Vatican Museum.  

We walk down Ottaviano and stop for a quick coffee and pastry.  We watch all the sales people setting up their tables with supposedly our "must haves" -- sorry I don't need a phone charger, a selfie stick, a laser pointer, or a scarf. We both comment that this reminds us of some places in Mexico we have been where you can't sit down without someone trying to sell you something.

After our beverages and a boost of caffeine we are walking towards St. Peter's Square.  The square is relatively quiet and we are a little early so we start the Rick Steve's podcast about the Basilica where he talks all about the outside areas.  

Our meeting time is 9:10, but we are not entirely sure where to go so we go thru the security check point where they scan all our bags, we go thru the beepy thing (sorry don't know technical term) and they ensure you are dressed appropriately.

We know we have to check all big bags (like our knapsack) in at the security (which is free and very safe).  We use the washrooms right there too.  You can also get audio guides for the Basilica if you wish, but even better use Rick Steve's guides for free.

This is the office door you have to find to get your tickets

Now where do we go?  We asked and were told to go up the stairs to the church then down the other side.  Okay, now where, ask someone else.  We have to exit and to the entrance on the left side.  Here we had to show the security our confirmation paper and he once again made us to thru the beepy thing (technical term).  We are told to walk forward and go to the Scavi office.  Here is a picture of it cause trust me it is not obvious.  We arrive, a man with a blank face asks us our names, and prints out two tickets and told to wait right outside.  Okay, who are we to argue.

The group is getting bigger - in all we had 12, all were from the United States, except us two Canadians.  Our guide met us and led us inside.

Now I could go on and on with exactly what we experienced but it was just so much.  I learned a ton.  To get to see this area that is so special, and so few get to see.  To see under the Basilica where people use to roam the streets.  To see the excavations and the history is well speechless.

Trust me it is very interesting, even to someone who is not religious.  Just the archaeological information is worth the visit.  

Things to take note though:  

  • it gets warm down there, now it is cool Fall like weather and we are wear light jackets and long sleeve tops under it and we were all hot. I would imagine during the summer it may be rather cool but for us we were all sweaty when we got out.  
  • you are not allowed to take any pictures, nor lean against any of the walls or touch any of them, this is in order to protect the remains that have been uncovered.
  • It took about two hours in total so be prepared
  • The tour takes you into some narrow confined spaces underground, with some steps.  You will need to be able to maneuver the area but anyone who can easily walk and stand for that length of time won't have a problem.
See my webpage links for tour information on all the sites/tours I used on this trip by clicking here

After the tour we are back outside and it is sunny and hot and the crowds are heavy.  We see that the line to get in the Basilica is now almost halfway around the square. When we arrived at 8:30 this morning there was maybe 20 in line! So go early or go late to avoid crowds.  

There is no fee to enter the Basilica but if you want an audio guide there is a fee, or if you wish to climb the dome there is a fee.  We didn't do either so I can't comment.

We enter back into the church along with the throngs of people - but I know it isn't that bad cause the guard mentions that in the summer it is twice as busy.  Oh I can't imagine.

I start up the podcast for the audio guide to start again. Rick Steve's leads us along the church's major sites.  Again no sense in me describing everything, let it be known that I was gob smacked and felt blessed for being in such a beautiful spot.

Now I have to say I love taking pictures as much as the next person but really people!  Do you have to record every inch of the church.  Put the camera down and step back and absorb the surroundings.  Look at it with your EYES, feel it in your soul.  But no, seems people now have access to a camera constantly and they pose with every statue, every mosaic, every jaw dropping site.  Plus there are people criss crossing everywhere so they end up in your shot.  

Oh and those darn selfie sticks!  Again I witnessed them swinging out and smacking people.  Sometimes it was the users' fault and often it was the person just walking by and not seeing this small pole right in front of them.  I am surprised they haven't banned them from here.

Then the people who just don't follow the rules and are taking pictures of a mass in progress.  There is a big sign with a camera with a line thru it - universal sign for NO PICTURE TAKING.   But oh no they miss it cause that is right they have the camera glued to their face. 

Okay rant over, but if you have a selfie stick and you are ever around me don't be surprised if I break it.  No worries you can buy another one almost anywhere in Rome.

Needless to say I took many shots in the church but I did not take a selfie, nor did I even pose for a picture in the church.  I don't know, maybe I should of but I just didn't feel it.

We finally leave the square at noon and we need to figure out what we are going to do.  

However long tour, then long lines and crowds in church, and little sleep and hunger pains equals lets get out of here.  I am sure you can all relate.


  1. Thanks Vickie. Great info. Love the selfie stick comment. I am howling.

  2. That was fun to read. I enjoyed the photos. I've visited St. Peter's Square four times and it's always a beautiful site.

  3. We had a tour at 11 and breezed by all the lines. They waited for hours, I don’t think I would have bothered to be honest. It is overwhelming to see it all.