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St. Peter's Basilica & Square

Believe it or not, we're still ploughing our way through my recent trip to Rome (I know hang in there guys, the end of these posts are on the horizon I assure you!) and today I thought it was high-time I shared with you one of my favourite spots: St. Peter's Basilica. This place is amazing and it will be no surprise that it is full to the brim with tourists at every moment of everyday because it's just a stunning space to stand in. Because Matt & I visited the basilica during the afternoon of a busy day, we didn't spend an awful lot of time in it due to being extremely tired and irritable from the heat and bustle of the place. It is a popular tourist destination and it's obvious why but it is worth bearing in mind *just* how packed this place can be if you are considering scoping it out.

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter was constructed in the 1500s (finally completed in 1626) and is considered the burial place of St.Peter who was one of Christ's disciples and the very first Pope. It's situated in the Vatican City, Italy and let me tell you, walking past it every morning whilst on holiday in Rome was amazing and I never once got bored of the beautiful architecture. The first full day we were in Rome was a Sunday and us silly sausages kind of forgot we were in a Roman Catholic (Roman would have been the giveaway word) city and couldn't understand why there was a huge crowd, complete with gunned police guards, gathering in St. Peter's Square. Until we rounded it and saw the Pope on a big TV screen. He was addressing his people, giving his Sunday sermon he gives every Sunday if he happens to be "home". It was such a strange experience to see someone I so frequently see on the news and in the papers actually there - in front of me - and hear him speak. We didn't stay for long because I speak zero Italian so I can't even guess what he was talking about, but it was a fantastic experience nevertheless! Because the square was so busy, we decided to check out St. Peter's later in the week.

When we eventually checked it out, we had had a busy long morning in the Vatican Museums (which you can read all about here) and so in the baking midday sun, we waited in line to go into St. Peter's feeling a little tired. St. Peter's is completely free to enter which is one reason it is so busy with tourists, but it is also a pilgrimage site for many Catholics. Security is tight here and we went through different scanner checks to enter the building. Something worth bearing in mind if you're planning to visit the basilica is it is a place of worship so make sure you're dressed appropriately. It might get ridiculously hot in Rome and Vatican City, but booty shorts and crop tops are not needed in a holy place. Signs at the security checks explain that huge bags will not be allowed into the basilica (a normal backpack is fine) and that shorts are not okay and your shoulders should be covered. I wore a midi dress with capped sleeves and that was fine - just be mindful when you're getting dressed before your visit and you'll be fine! A lot of women took lightweight scarves with them to cover their shoulders too. But now, let's take a look at just how beautiful this place is.

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Gorgeous isn't it? Like I mentioned earlier, it will be busy in there no matter when you visit, so bear it in mind that you can't always spend a long time looking at the artwork of Michelangelo and Bernini etc. if you don't want to be pushed around by thousands of others trying to look at it all too. It's also important to remember to take a proper good look at the Piazza outside! So many people forget to pay close attention to St. Peter's Square because it isn't the main attraction, but it's a gorgeous spot to spend some time whether it's sitting on the steps to catch a break from the hot sun or sitting by one of the fountains to watch all the passerbys. The most noteworthy part of the plaza is the Tuscan colonnades surrounding the perimeter of the square which were constructed by the artist Bernini and are supposed to represent the maternal arms of the church embracing all who visit her. On top of these famous colonnades are a variety of Saint statues - each one a specific saint and therefore different in their stance and appearance. I'd highly recommend just taking some time to look at them because it's so impressive that each of them have their own personality and look - not to mention the square is a sun trap and perfect for taking a minute or 30 to just sit and have a rest in the glorious sunshine!

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- A.
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