Rome at last! After 8.5 hours via Air Alitalia we landed at the Rome Fiumicino Airport a little after 1 pm. April 8. There was a little confusion and delay finding our pick-up which I had booked through Viator. But all it well that ends well and we were finally on our way to the hotel.
Arrived at Hotel Fontanella Borghese at 3:10 pm with no minutes to spare as our previously booked Skip-The-Line tour for the St. Peter's Basilica was scheduled at 3:30. With a taxi ride, a helpful Pinoy, and some running (thanks to leg day at the gym) we made it on time.
There were 5 of us for the English tour guide, me, Ervin and a family of 3 from the UK. Passed through the security check and finally we were inside the Basilica.
Nothing prepared us for the Basilica. I was not listening to the tour guide the moment I stepped inside. My eyes were wandering, my heart stopped beating for a while and my mind could not comprehend yet that I was indeed inside. There are no exact words to describe the moment or the feeling. There was too much to see, to behold, to stare.
Michaelangelo's Pieta - made from one slab of marble when he was 24 years old.
The Dome viewed from the inside. (Photo not mine).
Just one of the many mosaics inside the Basilica.
The 66 ft. high bronze and gold altar called the Baldachin Altar built by Bernini.This marks the tomb of St. Peter underneath.
The guided tour took an hour and we followed it up with an unguided tour to the Dome. The climb to the dome would be around 520 steps, but taking the elevator reduces the remaining steps to around 250. Getting off from the elevator one will be at the base of the dome looking down below.To reach the highest point of the cupola (dome), I had to navigate through various stairs from iron spiral to one person only marble steps to steps that only had thick ropes for support.
And then you are rewarded with one of the most famous view of the Basilica.
View of St. Peter's Square with portions of Ponte St'Angelo (River Tiber bridge).
On one side the Basilica gardens.
Outside the Basilica, a few of the 140 statues of saints around the courtyard .
These statues stand 3.10 metres tall and had been there since 1670.
My first 3 hours in Rome. Well spent but too short.