Rome is one of those cities you can spend a month or a year in and still not know anything about. It is vast, ancient, and moves at a pace all its own. We had three days to explore the Eternal City, so suffice it to say we were not going to see much and had to prioritize. Fortunately, during our stay in Burford, my old friend and work colleague David Warwick recommended for us to contact the Catholic Church to see if we could tour the Scavi, which is the excavated ruins beneath St. Peters including what is believed to be the tomb of St. Peter himself. Only 250 people per day are allowed on the tour, and bookings typically fill up almost a year in advance. We decided to submit a request anyway and were surprised when we received a confirmation almost immediately. The tour of the Scavi was on our last day in Rome, so we needed to figure out how we were going to attack our other two days in the city. Here is what we ended up seeing:
· We saw the Pope giving his Sunday Angelus in St. Peters Square
· We took a tour of the Coliseum
· We visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel
· We walked up and down the Spanish Steps several times
· Ate dinner on the square in Piazza Narvona in the middle of a thunderstorm – very cool
· Visited the Trevi fountain, but found it under construction
· Ate wonderful food and drank wonderful wine
The Scavi turned out to be an amazing experience all around. The entrance to the tour is on the side of St. Peters Square. You have to go through the Swiss Guard security and then are led inside and down some steep steps into what appears to be an underground city. Don’t get me wrong, it is small, but you are literally walking the streets of Rome from nearly 2000 years ago. There are several mausoleums, which have been excavated, and you can see the detailed frescoes and carvings which adorned these family burial plots. The tour ends with a three sided view of the presumed final resting place of St. Peter. You can literally see what is believed to be the bones of St. Peter. The incredible thing is they are located directly beneath the current alter of St. Peter’s Cathedral, the center of the Catholic faith. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” – I never knew that was a literal statement. We are not a religious family, but everyone agreed this tour was special.
Rome was wonderful, but we were all ready for the real adventure of our trip to begin – the safari!
We stayed at the Westin Excelsior using some of our last SPG points. It was great to be in a hotel again for a few days.