Another sunny and hot day in Rome, and a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica was next on the personal agenda. Catching the #40 bus from Termini Station seemed easier than trying to find the correct platform for the Metro. The crowds were smaller than expected at 9:30 am on a Saturday morning, pushing back zealous tour guides and scarf vendors was worse than the tour groups stopping and starting intermittently.
We were told (by one of the eager tour guides) that the line-up to get into the Basilica would take more than 2 hours… We took our chances and crossed the threshold of the church in less than 30 minutes, even with the security check! Admission into any church in Rome is free as they are places of worship.
The marble floors in Rome are noteworthy and unique to each church. St Peter’s Basilica is stunningly beautiful and so large that a full day is not enough to do this architectural marvel justice. From marble floor to intricately carved and gilded ceilings, it is difficult to make the eye rest in just one place.
Detailed mosaics remind of the skillful Roman artist. Images are clear as if they were painted. (Sorry for this shaky image, my iPad had trouble focussing in the dimly lit space.) As I wandered the vast space, weaving in and out of the crowds, listening to Italian, German, Japanese, English, Spanish and Slavic language tours I realized that I had discovered three, or better four “M’s”: marble, mosaic, mass (in progress at the altar immediately left of the main altar) and masses of people – a theme that recurs as I explore Rome this week.
Life-size marble sculptures of former popes, saints and angles lead the eye throughout. A not so obvious marble staircase in front of and slightly to the left of the main altar, leafs to the grotto. Photography is discouraged on signs as one enters the space below ground, but the security guards appeared to look the other way when a number of visitors pretended they didn’t see the easy to understand signs…