Thursday, April 20, 2006

St. Peter's Basilica

After the Vatican, we headed over to St. Peter's. What an enormous building; the foyer alone can fit most of the world's churches in it. A grand building, like all other Catholic buildings in Rome, and huge! Everything in it was huge, the statues, the confessional, everything. Plus, it's been a long time since I've seen so many Catholics congregated in one place at any given time. Everywhere, people were in prayer, especially by St. Peter's tomb. The pictures we took do not do the place justice.

After we finished ooh and ahhing, we decided to join the queue to head up the cupola. You have the option of taking the stairs the entire way up, or the elevator to the first part and then take stairs the rest of the way. Seeing how the mandatory steps were over 300 as it was, we decided to take the elevator first.

Once you get off the elevator, you 're actually on the outside of the church, and have to walk back in. It's a wild sight to be inside, but hundreds of feet above where you just were. DH got vertigo at that point and had to go back outside. I , on the other hand, was disappointed that they didn't allow you to walk right around and that the netting was so high, thus obstructing any good pictures I wanted to take off the going ons below us.

We had both heard stories about going up the cupola and were a little scared to go up. DH had understood that there was just a railing between you and certain death below while going up. I had thought it would be scary, but thrilling because you'd be at the very top of the cupola, looking down at the people praying below. As it turns out, we were both wrong. The stairs were in a tight spiral up and like the stairs in the Notre Dame in Paris, they were flanked on both sides by walls that went straight up and didn't give much room for movement. In fact, alot of North Americans probably couldn't even fit. Lots of people had to stop along the way, and thankfully it was built so there were areas to pull over so others could pass. I managed to get up without having to stop. Once I got there, it was a short few steps to the final destination: an amazing view of the entire Vatican and Rome laid out beyond that. Truly breathtaking. I did my round and went back down to where DH was waiting for me. I kept pushing him until he agreed to go up and see it for himself, and once he realized that there was nowhere to go, I think he loosened up and loved the view from the top. All in all, I did the 330 stairs four times, which, in my mind meant I deserved my gelato that day.


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