The organ was playing in the Basilica during our visit as some visiting clergy were partaking of Mass. The Basilica is awe-inspiring in its scale. A number of colleagues at work had suggested we do the walk up to the Cupola, which we did. Luckily there is a lift to the first level which gives a close up view of the internal ceiling and mosaics of the dome, and then after a lot of twisting and turning on the barely-wide-enough stairs, you pop out at the very top of the dome with 360 degree views of Rome which included a great view over St Peter's Square.Read more
Today, we continued our mastery of the Roman public transport system and took the Metro to Vatican City. I had booked us in on a tour of the Vatican Gardens, because we could then skip the queues to the Museums + we also got access to the little door at the back right of the Sistene Chapel which gave us access straight into the Basilica (and when we saw that queue, were glad of the opportunity to do so). Do you get the idea that queues are an issue?
The gardens were lovely but that is to be expected when there are 50 full-time gardeners employed to tend them. There were great views of the dome of the Basilica as you walked through the gardens. They are closed to tourists in the afternoon so that they can be used by the Pope and other residents of Vatican City in the afternoons. On the grounds is the apartment of the former pope, who apparently was in residence when we were there (something to do with windows being open etc).Read more