Visit to Rome (4)

On our third and last full day in Rome, again we had a theme: this time, the papacy. Again we were out all day but this time the weather was cooler and generally overcast.

We decided not to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel (I’ve been three times before) since 11 year old Joshua was not that interested, but we did want to see St Peter’s Basilica which is of course part of Vatican City and the home of the pope. We managed to get there by the metro, only to find a morning queue that was said to be taking two hours.

So, we postponed St Peter’s and walked down to Castel Sant’Angelo. This structure by the side of the River Tiber was originally built in 123-139 AD as a massive circular tomb for the Emperor Hadrian, but it was a papal castle for 1,000 years and it is now a museum. There are some fascinating artefacts and glorious vistas with plenty of photo opportunities.

Afterwards it was time for lunch, but the area around the Vatican is a tourist trap and prices – always steep in Rome – were astronomical in the restaurant between the castle and the basilica. As an illustration, Joshua’s burger and chips was 33 Euros (£29) and the whole of the bill was subject to an automatic service charge of 17%.

At least, when we returned to St Peter’s Basilica, we found that the queue was down to half an hour. Constructed between 1506-1626, the church is simply enormous and centred on the huge altar canopy created by Bernini.  Other works of art include the famous Pieta marble statue crafted by Michelangelo. The basilica has a somewhat gloomy interior but the Swiss Guards outside add some colour.

Home tomorrow after a most enjoyable but expensive long weekend in the Italian capital


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