BASILICA OF ST. PETER IN THE VATICAN
The stateliness of Carlo Madernos seventeenth century façade hints at the
immensity of St. Peters Basilica inside, which today remains one of the
largest churches in the world.
The old Basilica of St. Peter, whose vast size was similar to
todays, was built at around 320 by the Emperor Constantine on the site where,
tradition has it, the Apostle St. Peter was buried.
Over the centuries and under a number of different papacies, the long
process was launched which, within the space of about two hundred years and
thanks to the genial contribution of artists such as Bramante, Michelangelo and
Bernini, led to the complete overhaul of the early Constantine church.
The dome dominating the skyline is the fruit of Michelangelos vision. Its
amazing size and harmony is best appreciated by bravely climbing its steps.
Rest assured, your efforts will be rewarded by both a close up inspection of
the cupolas magnificent internal decorations and the awe-inspiring panorama
waiting for you at the top.
Michelangelos masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture
the Pietà, where many a visitor remains mesmerized by its
combination of technical purity and emotional impact, arguably stands out among
the St. Peters countless artistic attractions.
It may be two thousand years old but the Colosseum is still the symbol of the eternal city, every year drawing thousands of visitors, meaning long queues and an endless wait.
In order to avoid the problem, a ticket may be purchased in advance through the tourist contact centre, by phoning 060608 or visiting the website www.pierreci.it.
Or alternatively by buying one of two tourist cards: the Roma Pass which is valid for three days and entitles holders to free admission and no-queue entrance for the first two museums and to free travel throughout Rome, or the Archeologia Card which is valid for 7 days and allows free entry into each of the following sites: Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian), the Colosseum, the Palatine, Terme di Caracalla (Caracalla Baths), Villa dei Quintili, Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella.
TO BE SEEN:
The Palatine, Roman Forum, Domus Aurea, Arch of Constatine, House of Augustus, House of Livia.
THE TREVI FOUNTAIN
Work on the celebrated rococo fountain was first begun in 1732 by Nicola Salvi (who beat off competition to be awarded the commission by Pope Clement XII) and was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.
The monument, whose water is supplied by one of the oldest Roman aqueducts, the Acqua Virgine, has been sculptured against the backdrop of Palazzo Poli and depicts Triton taming Oceanus shell-shaped chariot drawn by sea horses.
Before moving off, do not forget to throw a coin in the fountain. Custom has it that travellers doing this will one day return to the eternal city. Those seeking a little romance, perhaps even an Italian love, should then toss a second, third coin to make sure wedding bells will soon be chiming.
Not forgetting of course that the fountain provided the splendid setting for the best-known scene from director Federico Fellinis classic film La Dolce Vita: a provocative Anita Ekberg swathed in a long black evening dress calls out for Marcello Mastroianni, Marcello, Come Here! as she glides through the fountains sparkling waters.
VATICAN MUSEUMS AND SISTINE CHAPEL
The magnificent and immense Vatican Museums are among the greatest and most important in the world. This explains the extremely long queues tailing back from the the entrance, especially in the high seasons such as at Christmas, Easter and during spring.
Rest assured however, your patience will be rewarded inside.
In order to avoid the queues and save time, it is therefore a good idea booking your admission ticket or guided tour online.
The Vatican Museums in fact encompass a number of different museums: the Pio-Clementino Museum, the Chiaramonti Museum, the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, the Gregorian Profane Museum, the Pio-Christian Museum, the Ethnological Missionary Museum, the Collection of Modern Religious Art, the Upper Galleries Museum, the Vatican Library Museum, the Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) and of course the exquisite and unique Sistine Chapel.
An entire day will not be long enough to see everything, so you would do well to dress comfortably and have a clear idea of what you really want to visit before embarking of this expedition.
The Vatican Museums are also open on the last Sunday of every month when admission is free.