The wake up call on our first full day in Rome came quite early, 6am- and with our 6 hour time difference it felt like 12am. Mike and I headed down to breakfast (which was included) and was surprised to find such a variety!
Full disclosure, we weren’t a fan of the scrambled eggs. But the pastries, fruits, cereals, cheeses, and meats all made up for it.
Mike and Marco had informed up the night before our schedule needed to be changed slightly while in Rome as Pope Francis addresses the crowds at St Peter’s on Sundays and Wednesdays and we were scheduled to tour St. Peter’s on Wednesday. So, they did a little flip flopping of schedules and today we would tour St. Peter’s, the Colosseum, and the Forum. We boarded a motor coach, after breakfast, and headed to Saint Peter’s Basilica 5 minutes away. It is so peaceful early in the morning…
Here, we took beautiful pictures and met our Roman Regional Tour Guide, Cristina.
Our group quickly passed through security, walked by a Swiss Guard or two, then into this majestical place…
You could really spend an entire day here praying, attending Mass, and admiring the amazing works of art found here in the the largest church in the world. This is the burial place of St. Peter and many popes since, as this site was originally constructed in the 4th century. Cristina spent several minutes on one of her favorites works of art – Michaelanglo’s Pieta. The Pieta was commissioned to be “the most beautiful work of marble in Rome, one that no living artist could better.”
We also saw Pope John Paul II’s tomb and alter.
Nearby, Cristina told us a story of when Pope Francis entered the Basilica from his private entrance, and attended Mass. The priests saying Mass emplored him to serve with them- but he refused, choosing to worship from the pews instead.
We were even sure to rub Saint Peter’s foot for good luck!
By the time we left the Basilica, the line outside to enter had grown several hours long! We took some time to admire the fountains and do some shopping as well.
Next we all took a quick walk to Castel Sant’Angelo, where Cristina gave us a private tour. This building was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum and later used as a fortress by the popes.
There are 2 statues of Archangel St. Michael, one high up on the enormous terrace, which has stunning views of the Vatican and Rome. Legend states St. Michael saves Rome from a terrible plague that struck in 590 AD, which ended when St. Michael appeared above the castle and conceded grace to the town when he cast his sword over the city.
Next we are headed to a very special lunch followed by the Colosseum and the Forum… stay tuned!