13 July, 2015
La Basilica di San Pietro, or Saint Peter’s Basilica, is a sight to behold. Roman Catholic or not, religiously devoted or lay, it is definitely an architectural monument which will impress you with its grandeur and magnificence.
Inside the Basilica, the artistry and skill is all the more impressive. One need not believe nor understand the Roman Catholic religion to appreciate the immense detail and precision, the incredible dedication and commitment which shaped the grand building, the heart of Roman Catholicism.
After exploring the ground floor, I bought a ticket to see the Cupola (the Dome).
I ascended via the elevator and then proceeded to climb around and around and around inside the dome of the Basilica, winding upwards and losing breath until I finally broke out into sunlight. I should mention at this point that my tiredness was not due to a lack of fitness – which, incidentally, would also be quite believable considering my state of (un)fitness – but I was climbing at midday, the temperature had already surpassed 40 degrees Celsius and I was wearing long black pants on account of religious modesty and Basilica regulations. So, as you may imagine, it was HOT. And I, as a result, was not calm and collected, but rather a puffing and sweaty mess. All in the name of chasing this view:
And if you think that the square looks pretty amazing, check out the Pope’s crib! Not bad, aye?
On top of the Cupola, the cooling breeze throwing my sweaty hair from my face and the Vatican City and Rome both spread out below me, I was relaxed. Tourists squeezed past me, jostled me, pushed me – there were WAY too many people for the tiny space that exists on the balcony – but I stood there alone (albeit squashed) and I enjoyed that breeze and those moments of (relative) silence and refreshing repose from the muggy and claustrophobic staircase I had navigated to get up to the top.
From a lower rooftop area, I was also able to speak to some really lovely nuns in the gift shop (of course, there is a gift shop!) and get a bit closer to the Apostles:
Despite the heat, the sweat, and the other pressing, heaving tourists, I was incredibly satisfied with my Cupola experience and would strongly encourage anyone visiting the Basilica to take the step to view it from above. If not for the view, then for the bragging rights of having climbed to the top of Saint Peter’s and to have reached the literal summit of the Roman Catholic Church!