Destination: Roma Day: VIII

As a photographer, today sucked!  On a day when it should have been photographer’s heaven, I decided to make a boneheaded move and I regret it.  Our plans for today where to visit the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica.  And I decided it would be more convenient just to bring my point-and-shoot camera.  And by mid-trip, we were down to just camera #3, which is far worse than numbers 1 and 2. We are trying to figure out if we can get back to St. Peter’s on 12/31 or 1/1 for an opportunity to take some better exterior pictures.  The inside will be off limits most likely because there are 2 or 3 New Year’s events which Pope Benedict leads. Now, I present some photos that I am not proud of:

Vatican museum line

The line at the Vatican Museum. For a few dollars extra, one can make a reservation and skip this line, like we did. I estimate there were about 850-1000 people in line.

Vatican museum spiral staircase

Vatican museum spiral staircase at Christmastime.

Vatican museum spiral staircase

Vatican museum spiral staircase, from the top.

St. Peters from the museum

St. Peters from the museum.

Vatican museum rules

In keeping with my goal never to be tackled by security.

Raphael Room Vatican

Raphael Room: Sala di Constantine ceiling, painted by Laurenti (1582-1585). “Triumph of Christianity”

Hall of Maps and its ornate ceiling, Vatican Museum

Hall of Maps and its ornate ceiling, Vatican Museum.

Map showing Hungary, Verrazzano (1529)

Map showing Hungary, Verrazzano (1529).

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (1508-1512).

After the Vatican Museum, we had a very special tour of St. Peter’s.  The Scavi tour allows small numbers of people (12-16 per group) on a guided tour underneath the central aisle of the St. Peter’s nave. Beneath it is Constantine’s church foundation from around 330 AD. Beneath that is a necropolis of the first century AD.  This was found about 60 years ago by accident, and now one road has been excavated for about 70 meters.  They know the necropolis was significantly bigger than this, but further excavation isn’t possible because it would affect the support of St. Peter’s above.  You may know the St. Peter’s altar is above the supposed burial spot of Peter, who was crucified nearby around 65 AD.  But we learned the fascinating scenario of the burial spot being respected by Constantine who built a shrine over it, then his own monument over that.  The altar of the first cathedral built over than, then two more shrines/additions to the altar. Then the current altar is above that.  It is an amazing story of respecting what is already there, and the tour brought us to where we could actually see the burial spot, a container that has some bones (fitting a person of Peter’s description), a “graffiti wall” of Christian messages, Constantine’s original shrine, and many other family crypts along the necropolis road.  In one of my next few posts, I will provide a link to more information, or type it myself.  It could easily be a whole post, but my focus is on photos for this vacation.  Of course, my good camera (which would have no problem in the darkness underground) was happily sitting in our hotel room.  So here is one single picture.  I hope we can go back before we fly home:

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.

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