Rome Day One: St. Peter's Basilica, Castel Sant' Angelo, and Vatican Museum

Thursday, January 30, 2020

We went to Italy last Thanksgiving Holidays. I went to the northern part of Italy many years ago back when I was still in college. We just learned that ticket to Europe is cheap during Thanksgiving week so off we go exploring the southern part of Italy this time. We were surprise to see "Welcome to Italy sign in Chinese character when we arrived at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport.
We stay in an airbnb in the city center. This is our first time staying in an airbnb. On the past, we usually use or vrbo but airbnb gave us better and cheaper options in Italy. In addition, our hosts were all very helpful and responsive. We feel like having local tour guide to help us navigate the area.    
 First day itinerary: walk about 30 minutes to St. Peter's Basilica. 
We took the guided tour to the dome and crypt per recommendation of my friend. So grateful we did otherwise we would miss out many important details. For instance, we didn't know on this very spot, Peter was crucified upside down and was later buried there. The church was built to fulfill Jesus’ words to Peter: “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church” Matthew 16:18

Few steps after the main entrance, we would see the Pontifical Swiss Guard

Climbing all the way  to the very top of St. Peter's Dome - 320 narrow steps
Rewarded with this amazing view. Fact: the dome of St Peter's Basilica is the tallest dome in the world at 136.57 meters. 
The Catholics loves the current pope: Pope Francis because he is known to be very humble. He chose to stay in a guest house in one of the humble building below instead of living in the Apostolic Palace.
Inside the beautiful St. Peter's Basilica: 
One of Michaelangelo's first work of art: Pieta was kept behind bullet proof glass after a mentally ill man damaged it in 1970s. Took a year for them to repair it.
Our guide asked us, "Is that a painting?"
The fact is: there is no painting in St. Peter Basilica. Every single one of those "painting" is a mosaic, made of tiny stone.

Finished with the tour, we look for a local cafe to eat pizza and lasagna. We followed the local's advice: don't eat at the tourist area, go further away, and eat where the local people eat.

Next destination: Castel Sant' Angelo. We didn't go inside just took a picture from the outside. It was raining so we hurried to go to our next destination:
The Vatican Museum, where they display the art work amassed by popes throughout the centuries.
The famous spiral stairs inside the Vatican Museum

Apostle Peter was crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus Christ

We made a deal with the boys as long as they don't complain, they are rewarded with 'gelato' = Italian ice cream at the end of the day. As a result, we heard less complaining and eat gelato almost every day there.
Most Italian restaurant open at 7:30 PM for dinner, which is too late for the kids and us, who were still jetlag and were already sleepy by 7PM. That evening, Chris went to nearby supermarket to get some ready to made meals, warm it up in the oven, and voila we got our dinner. The beauty of staying in airbnb with kitchen. 

Next destination: Herculaneum