Saturday, February 8, 2014

Piazza San Pietro, Rome

Our visit to St. Peter's Basilica started with the long line in the Piazza San Pietro. We knew we were supposed to get there early, but we just didn't get out of the apartment early. Plus, we couldn't find any tobacconist or newsstand that had bus tickets for sale! It was the day before New Year's Eve, so maybe they didn't want to get stuck with 2013 passes in 2014? No one explained, so I've made this assumption. Regardless, St. Peter's is easy to find since it sticks out over other buildings. It was longer to walk than to ride.

Approaching from our hotel

We came into the piazza from the southern side through the massive colonnade.

Into the piazza...

...onto the line

The piazza has a magnificent obelisk that was erected in 1586 but dates back to the Roman times when the area was a circus and even further to Egypt. That circus was probably where St. Peter was killed by being crucified upside down. He did not want to die the same way as Jesus because he thought he was unworthy. While we visited, the life-size nativity was still up, which the children enjoyed immensely.


J and L smiling their best in the rain

Like many churches we have visited on our journeys, this one has some scaffolding for restoration work. Luckily it was at the end of one of the colonnades, and didn't really disrupt us or our view.

At least there wasn't a "Under New Management" sign

St. Peter's is at the head of the piazza and has two large statues, one of Peter and another of Paul. Preparations were underway for a big New Year's Day Mass (which we didn't attend since the kids weren't ready for a two to three hour Mass), so the saints had their jumbotrons ready.

St. Peter's

St. Paul with jumbotron

St. Peter with jumbotron

The piazza also has the Vatican Post Office (which is apparently more reliable than the Italian Post Office). For the holidays, they added a mobile office as well.

Vatican Post Office

For the overflow crowd

A popular sight in the Vatican is the Swiss Guards, men who have volunteered to provide security for the Vatican. Their uniforms are quite colorful, but on the rainy and dreary day when we visited they had their overcoats on.

Swiss Guards on duty

Soon enough, we made it to the head of the line and went into the church itself. Which we'll see in the next post!

J and L, just before entering

J and L make their escape later in the day...

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