Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 3 Vatican City

We had our "Scavi Tour" of the Vatican necropolis scheduled for 10 in the morning, so we got to the Vatican plenty early--having only vague directions as to where we were supposed to go to meet our tour. It did involve talking to several Swiss Guards. They wear tights, but they take their job VERY seriously. They were not pleased that we had arrived so early--we were only supposed to be 10 minutes early. So with 20 minutes to kill, and virtually no lines at that time of morning, we went in to gawk at the Basilica.

We had a great view of the Pieta'--something I've never enjoyed before because it was crowded and I'm on the short side.

The "Scavi Tour" took us underneath the Basilica, which had been built on top of a previous Basilica, which had been built over a Roman burial ground. A very popular burial ground, since it was illegal to bury the dead within the city walls. We saw Roman mausoleums and Early Christian tombs. And we were told how St. Peter had been buried in his own mausoleum in this same necropolis after his crucifixion. And it was above his bones that Constantine built the altar of the original basilica. The altar was added to and built upon, and when the current basilica was built, the altar was built above that altar--under the assumption that it was in fact the final resting place of St. Peter. Then in the late 1940s this necropolis was discovered as they were digging to bury a pope that had passed on. Excavations have continued since then, working towards the center of the basilicas foundations. Directly underneath the altar, they found nothing. But a few feet away, behind a red wall, they have uncovered what many believe is truly the frangmented remains of St. Peter's bones.

It was pretty amazing.

After the tour, since we were in Vatican City, we--some of us reluctantly--decided to go to the Vatican Museums to see the Sistene Chapel. What a line! But it's always that way. And we made it through. We made it through the mazes of rooms filled with statues, paintings, tapestries, and TOURISTS. Okay, admittedly. I was getting a bit clausterphobic.

And we listened to Rick Steves audio tour of the Sistene Chapel--which was very informative.

Then we headed back over to the Colosseum, because we were not going to miss out on it again!

Room @ B&B Diocleziano60
Scavi Tour x336
Vatican Museum x230
gelato @ Tartufo x24
dinner @ Lilli's Tavern24

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