St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums – 8/4/2016

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”

Marcel Proust

Our second day in Rome was spent on the religious circuit, with the first stop being St Peter’s Basilica, head of the catholic church.  We started by going up the cupola, the cheats way by catching the elevator to the roof and avoiding the first 231 stairs.  From there we climbed the final 320 steps to the dome, with Tristan and I stopping a couple of times to catch out breaths.  The view over the Pope’s garden, the Vatican and Rome’s streets is spectacular.

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St Peter’s Basilica

Us in front of St Peter’s Basilica and a Swiss guard

St Peter’s Square, Vatican Gardens and the Vatican

We had an early lunch and headed for the Vatican Museums.  We went during lunch time, so the ticket ques were so much shorter.  We spent ages walking through the galleries, of course like everyone we really wanted the kids to see the Sistine Chapel.  You are allowed to take photos throughout the museum, except in the Sistine Chapel.  The crowd in the Sistine Chapel was huge, Andrew explained it to the kids, talking about different parts of it.  You can’t really spend long there as you are moved along and this is the only place in the museum where you are not allowed to take photos.  Josh and Tristan enjoyed it and talked about different things they enjoyed about it, Max and Ava got restless quickly.

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Museum Entrance

St Peter’s Basilica Information:

Cost: Entrance to the Basilica is free, Climbing the dome: walk all the way, 551 steps, the cost is €6, Lift to the terrace plus 320 steps is €8.

Opening Hours: Oct – Mar: 7 am – 6.30 pm, Apr – Sep: 7am – 7pm, The dome opens at 8am and closes one hour before the Basilica.

Vatican Museums Information:

Cost: Adults €16Children (ages 6 – 18) €8, Students (ages 19 – 26) €8, the last Sunday of each month is free, but crowded.

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 9am – 6pm (Ticket office closes at 4pm), Sun: Closed except the last Sunday of each month: 9am – 2pm. (Ticket office closes at midday, 12:30pm).

Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon – 9/4/2016

Background on the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is a baroque fountain that stands about 26 m high and 49 m wide and is one of the most famous statues in the world.  In 1730, Pope Clemens XII ran a contest to for the design of a new fountain, which architect, Nicola Salvi 1730 had a contest to design a new fountain.  Pope Clemens died in 1740, followed by Nicola Salvi in 1751, before the fountains completion.  After Salvi’s death Pietro Bracci completed the fountain. Pope Clemens XIII inaugurated the Trevi Fountain in 1762.

Legend has it that if you through a coin into the Trevi Fountain then you will return to Rome.  An interesting fact is that over 2000 euros are thrown in each week.  This money is collected and helps subsidize a supermarket for the poor.

We visited the Trevi Fountain on a Saturday in the middle of the day, bad time really as it was so busy.  We grabbed sandwiches from a nearby deli and ate them on a side street near the fountain, before attempting to take photos.  We had walked quite a bit and Max in particular was tired and irritable by the time we got there, so food first was definitely the best option.  I did give the kids a coin each, unfortunately they threw them before I could explain the legend or take a photo, oh well, next time.  Being long term Bon Jovi fans, we later showed them their music video filmed at the fountain for the song, ‘Thank You for Loving Me.’

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We fought the crowds to get this photo in front of the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain from different angles.

Tourist Information on the Trevi Fountain

Opening Hours: Its open 24 hours a day.

Cost: free

The Pantheon

A Brief History

The Pantheon is considered the best preserved Ancient Roman monument.
The Pantheon began as a Roman temple before becoming a church in 609 AD. The original temple was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during Augustus’s reign (27 BC – 14 AD) and burnt to the ground in 80 AD.  The present building was completed by emperor Hadrian and dedicated sometime between 118 – 125 AD.  The original Latin inscription by Marcus Agrippa still stands and was not replaced by Hadrian.

What is special about the Pantheon?

Well apart from how well it is preserved, it also has the largest unsupported dome in the world, with a diameter of 43.3 m.  Additionally, Raphael, the famous artist, poets and several Italian kings have tombs inside the Pantheon.  There are 16 Corinthian columns that support the front of the Pantheon that each weighs 60 tonnes and were floated on barges along the Nile River to Rome.  The temple was originally to all the gods with statues of the 12 most important deities.  And if all of that doesn’t impress you, come and look around and see it in all its glory for yourself.


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The front view of the Pantheon

Tourist Information on Pantheon

Opening Hours: Mon- Sat: 8.30 am – 7.30 pm, (last admission 7.15 pm) Sun: 9 am – 6 pm (last admission 5.45 pm)

Closed: 1 Jan, 1 May and 25th of Dec

Cost: free admission


What better way to finish of a day or have everyday than with a gelato.

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – 11/4/2016

Palatine Hill

Rome is made up of 7 hills, one of the central hills is called Palatine Hill and is about 40 m high.  On side of Palatine Hill looks down upon the Roman Forum and another side looks down upon the Circus Maximus.  But the best view is the unobstructed view of the Colosseum. Since Augustus’s time, palaces have been built on this hill.  The ruins are quite extensive and a little difficult to understand what you are looking at.  We were overdressed on this day in jeans and long sleeved tops  and it was very hot walking around.

This is the view from Palatine Hill, on one side you look down on where the Circus Maximus was and on another you look down on the Roman Forum.

The best view from Palatine Hill is overlooking the Colosseum.  I also think its your best opportunity to get a photo with all of the Colosseum in it.

Some of the highlights of Palatine Hill include the Stadium of Domitian otherwise known as the hippodrome.  Domitian was a Roman Emperor who was passionate about sports and developed his own Games similar to that of the Olympic games.  Nearby is Flavian Palace built for Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus and was completed in 92 AD.

Left: Ruins of Flavian’s Palace. Right: Domitian’s Hippodrome

Tourist Information on Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Opening hours: 8.30 am

Opening Hours:

08.30 – 16.30 – last Sunday of Oct to Feb 15th 
08.30 – 17.00 – Feb 16th to Mar 15th
08.30 – 17.30 – Mar 16th to last Saturday of Mar
08.30 – 19.15 – last Sunday of Mar to Aug 31st  
08.30 – 19.00 – Sep 1st to Sep 30th  
08.30 – 18.30 – Oct 1st to last Saturday of Oct  

Last admission 1 hour before closing time

Closed: January 1, 1 May and December 25

Cost: Combined ticket for the Colosseum and Roman Forum/Palatine Hill (valid for 2 days): Adults € 12, EU members between 18 – 25 yrs and EU Teachers – € 7.50, Under 18 – Free admission.  The first Sunday of the month the admission for all is free.

You can buy tickets online at an additional cost of € 2.  The official website for tickets is: