St. Peters Basilica

19 Apr

St Peters BasilicaFirst day in Rome on tour, early start to beat the crowds. Heading off to see St Peters basilica and a tour of the colosseum. For today we have a local guide called Cynthia who was great with explaining what everything is and where it’s from. The guides are only allowed to speak outside they are forbidden to use their little radio headsets inside due to the fact you have to be silent. We were told where the best things to look at first and then look around. Before going in the metal detectors screen you, there was only a short wait, maybe five to ten minutes and we were in, later coming back out the line is 3-4 hours long. Best advice is to go with a group as early as possible.
It’s quite surprising to be able to take photos inside, the problem is when to stop? There is so many paintings ( frescos ) it lives up to its name, even the floor was beautiful. Sculpture by Michelangelo with Jesus and Mary is one of the few that he actually attached his name to. It’s now displayed behind glass thanks to an attack by someone with a hammer which resulted with damage to Mary’s nose and her fingers. Such a shame as its hard to take a good picture.
There are areas sectioned off for people attending mass and there was even someone in a booth giving their confession. And then there is a mass of security out the front of one of the little rooms, inside is a small alter with some people praying. Well I took a photo of this bloke called benedict… Who? Yes the Pope is within range to throw a tennis ball too, I assumed this would never happen. A few questions later and it’s confirmed. I’m not a religious person but none the less it made the day quite special. Back outside you get an idea of how smart it is to go with a group and very early, the line is huge.Back on the bus and we travel through the city to see the Arch of Titus. It’s a another beautiful structure with carvings depicting the first showing of an art form called perspective. We were then taken a short distance up the sacred way and you get an amazing view of the ancient forum, certain spots for me to find and photograph was the spot were Caesar was assassinated by Brutus and his followers. The views surrounding the area are well worth the walk up the cobblestone road which has groove marks in the path left by chariots. Above us in the royal palace they’ve recently found the mythical room built by Nero which was rumoured to turn, archaeologists have proven it did indeed turn in a circular motion. Once again it’s a classic example of building on top of buildings.
It’s now time for the tour through the majestic colosseum, it was a originally a lake area that was totally drained by emperor Vespasian to build, 40,000 something slaves were used the build and many more died whether they were gladiators, executions to the killing of the Christians. It recent years it’s suffered earthquakes and the normal weathering of age. Its definitely something everyone should do, once again go with a organised tour, much faster and the lines are just as long. I was lucky enough to come across a certain number of which I photographed and will post when Internet permits.
A little rest at the hotel for a few beers and back into town for the Trevi Fountain tour which was not surprisingly just as busy, we are thinking of heading back at end of tour for the night time when it’s lit up, brought some more souvenirs and a catchup with the tour and a stroll down to the Pantheon.
The Pantheon is one of the few remaining pagan temples left intact after the Christian conversion of Rome, how? The powers that be blessed it and now it’s no longer a pagan temple, presto. The columns here are huge and beautiful, inside it has examples of where the marble was taken away and where the rest is still there. The master artist Raphael remains are entombed as well the the king Vittorio and his wife. In the ceiling there is a huge hole in the dome which when it rains collects on the floor and drains away in many holes. The dome in St Peters Basilica was made slightly smaller than the Pantheon deliberately, which when the ruling Pope found out was furious and then redesigned parts which is why the dome in St. Peters is now not easily seen.
Our tour guide Cynthia has given us a mission whilst inside the Pantheon. It’s due to close in 15 minutes, try and be in the crowd of at least the last 100 people when they shut the doors, or try and be the last, but please dont say which guide told you to do this as they can pull her guide licence. Its very hard to do as the security are quite aggressive pushing everyone out. The left hand door closes 5 minutes before 6 then they start herding everyone out. What better time than now to display some Aussie stubbornness? It was a bit of a challenge as a few from our tour group were up for the contest. If anything, it was good to quickly snap off a few photos while there is no one else in they way. I was satisfied to be one of the last 100 but then it was even better as I shuffled my feet claiming ignorance of the language. YES!! I was the last person to exit the Pantheon that day amid much cheering. I refrained from shouting the typical chant, AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!!! I was on high for quite some time afterwards believe me, I felt awesome, I managed to do something I will remember for the rest of my life.The tour for the day was basically finished which allowed us some time to find a nice little place to eat in Piazza Navona, there are many eateries in this square including many souvenir shops, go up one of the side streets you will be rewarded with great food and terrific vino at a more than suitable price.Salute!!
Back to the bus via a short walk across the Tibur river, splendid views guaranteed after dark when everything is lit up, my good friend Tony has taken some fabulous photos even after we drank a substantial amount of wine, and for the rest of the night it’s a battle of willpower and skill to be the last on the bus.
Crashed and very burnt out but well worth it.

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2 Responses to “St. Peters Basilica”

  1. Sue Downton April 20, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    The whole day sounds brillant, cann’t wait to see photos. Thought to myself on you being last person out “That’s my Boy” Putting this trip on my bucket list. Love Mum

  2. Jodi April 24, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    Sounds awesome Shane. Great work at being the last out. Keep up the history lesson. : )

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