LENGTH

3-5 hours

Difficulty

Medium

Budget

Medium

Route stops

  1. St. Peter's Square

    Description and useful information about St. Peter's Square, the square of the Basilica of Rome

  2. Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican

    Everything about the Basilica of St. Peter: history, art, the Pietà by Michelangelo, the dome and so many useful informations about opening hours, tickets and how to get there

  3. Vist and discover Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome

    Opening hours, ticket prices and useful information to visit Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome

Following this brief itinerary, you will leave from the Port of Civitavecchia to visit in half a day some of the emblem places of Christian Rome.

Are you ready to discover some of the most astonishing works of art of all times, like the wonderful Basilica of St. Peter? Yes? Well then... let's go!

GET READY TO START

From the Port of Civitavecchia you must first of all get to the station. Read our article about how to get from the Port of Civitavecchia to the Train Station and you won't have any doubts!

Once you get to the station, buy a ticket for the first regional train bound for Roma Termini. If possible, we recommend you to get on a Fast Regional Train, to save some stops and some minutes.

Since you will have to get off at Roma San Pietro Train Station you can by also 2 kilometric tickets, paying for a return ticket €9.20. Actually, for this itinerary you won't need to use any other public transports. If you otherwise mean to stay and visit other points of interest in the capital, you can buy directly a daily ticket BIRG (€12) including, in addition to the round-trip, unlimited trips with all public transports (subway, bus and tramway) in a day.

Make your choice, get on a train and bon voyage! In about 45/50 minutes you can get off at Roma San Pietro.

A useful tip: regional trains don't have much space available for your luggage, so we suggest not to travel with baggages of excessive dimensions. A small backpack with the strict minimum needed is more than ok.

THE ITINERARY

1. From Roma San Pietro Station you can go directly by foot to the first stop: St. Peter's Square is located less than one kilometer away from the station and following our directions, it can be easily reached. Check the map on top to easily find your way.

Alternatively, if you have bought the BIRG ticket, you can wait for bus 64 departing from Piazza della Stazione San Pietro and after 2 stops, it will leave you in Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. A few steps and you will be there.

When you start seeing the colonnade, it means that you are already at St. Peter's Square! Describing this square is certainly not easy at all! We are sure about one thing, though: it is an absolute architecture masterpiece made by genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini: a great 240 meters ellipse that will welcome you, symbolically embracing you.

Inside St. Peter's Square you will feel embraced in a symbolic hug

Inside St. Peter's Square you will feel embraced in a symbolic hug

If you arrive on a Wednesday morning, you will find the square packed with faithful gathered to receive the customary Pope's blessing and you could also see him around on his Popemobile. If you, otherwise, arrive on a Sunday morning, the crowd will be even bigger: in fact, by noon, the faithful gather to attend the Angelus and receive the benediction of the Pope, while he looks out his studio window.

In any case and for whatever reason you are in St. Peter's Square, all the words in the world do not suffice to describe the amazing emotion that you will prove going through the world's most beautiful square.

St. Peter's Square on a Sunday morning during the Angelus prayer with the Pope

St. Peter's Square on a Sunday morning during the Angelus prayer with the Pope

If you are not looking for a crowd bath and you want to visit the square to slowly linger on the monuments, le statue e le fontane evitate di visitarla durante queste celebrazioni. 

Now, before continuing, we will reveal a little secret here... close to the obelisk, from a stone placed at the paving of the square you will have the impression that there may actually be a single row of columns instead of four, since they are perfectly aligned. Try and see! This optical illusion is due to an extraordinary perspective wanted by Bernini.

To find out more about the history, curiosities and other anecdotes read now our article about St. Peter's Square.

2. The Basilica of St. Peter is absolutely the world's widest church. Besides being a great work of art itself, it is as well a big container of art.

Think only that in over a century, many architects have worked on it, like Bramante, Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo the Young, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta and Maderno.

The front façade of the Basilica, built by Carlo Maderno between 1607 and 1614 is preceded by a three-storey staircase by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with the colossal statues of Paul the Apostle and Saint Peter at the sides. From the central balcony the Pope faces out to the square to pronounce the solemn blessings. 

In the interior of the Basilica are preserved an astounding amount of works of art, like the Pietà by Michelangelo, the Baldacchin of St. Peter close to the main altar, the bronze statue of St. Peter, the tomb of Leon XI, the monument to Pius VII, the Tomb of Alexander VII, the Vatican Grottoes below the Basilica where the Tomb of Paulus II can be found, the octagonal rooms, the organ and many other marble statues of saints and eminent personalities.

Front façade of the Basilica of St. Peter

Front façade of the Basilica of St. Peter

Admission to the Basilica is free while there is a fee to visit the Dome. We obviously recommend you to climb up to the top of the dome to enjoy a fantastic panoramic view over Rome, with St. Peter's Square, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber river on the background. It is 133 meters high and it counts with well 551 stairs!

The ticket to climb up costs €5, but don't worry, with €2 extra you can use a comfortable lift that makes everything easier... or almost! Read our article about the Basilica of St. Peter to find out more details, curiosities and many useful informations.

If you have more time, you can also visit the Vatican Grottoes, which you can access from the transept of the Basilica, and the Tomb of St. Peter. To visit the lattest, though, previous reservation is necessary, refering to the Excavation Office (you will find all details in the box at the bottom of the page about the Basilica).

3. Once you go out the Basilica, cross the square again and turn towards Via della Conciliazione. Among peddlers, souvenir sellers, tour operators and panoramic buses, the street is always teeming with people.

It was completed in 1950 in occasion of the Jubilee and, despite the name of the street, "Via della Conciliazione" (Conciliation Street) is one of the most controversial urban works of the Twentieth century. Actually, its building meant the demolition and transformation of churches and historic buildings of the Borgo neighbourhood. For instance, palazzo Caprini by Bramante and the building built by Jacopo da Brescia.

St. Peter seen from Via della Conciliazione

St. Peter seen from Via della Conciliazione

All controversy aside, it is always somehow impressive to think that right now you are leaving the Vatican, the smallest state in the world, to go back to Italy. Turn around for a last greeting to the Basilica and continue straight until the last stop of our itinerary.

3. As you get closer, you will see how the majestic building of Castel San'Angelo grows bigger in front of you. The fortress has not always looked as you can admire it nowadays. Over the years, it has undergone several modifications.

It was initially designed by architect Demetriano (125 BC) to be the funeral mausoleum of emperor Hadrian. Later, in 139 BC, it was completed by Antonino Pio. In 271 BC. took place the transformation into a castle, adding encircling walls, from which opened St. Peter's gate. In 1277 it became owned by the Vatican, the fortress became an impregnable garrison of the Catholic Church, and lately the Pontifical Apartments were added.

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

The stories, legends and curiosities told about this mysterious building are many and have always exerted great fascination... read our article about Castel San'Angelo to find out more!

For instance, did you know that in the past, it was secretely connected to the buildings in the Vatican city?

In 1277 Pope Nicholas III ordered the construction of an elevated passage known as "passetto di Borgo", an elevated passage of 800 metres that linked the Vatican Walls with Castel Sant'Angelo, allowing a quick and safe escape hatch. Pope Alexander VI Borgia used it to visit the castle's prison, while other popes, like Pope Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici), used it to escape in drammatic occasions like the sack of Rome in 1527 by Charles V's mercenary soldiers, the Landsknechte. The "passetto di Borgo" still exists and in some periods of the year, it is possible to visit it prior reservation.

Ponte dell'Angelo with its famous statues

Ponte dell'Angelo with its famous statues

Now, if you are tired you can just stay there and admire the Castle from the outside, maybe taking some pictures of the suggestive Ponte dell'Angelo, but if you have some time and some energy left visit also the National Museum of Castel Sant' Angelo hosting collections of art and history: sculpture, paintings, marble findings, arms, furniture and various objects.

The Museum is not extremely big (you can visit it in 1 hour) and the admission ticket is €7.

Our short tour ends here! Now you only have to go back on your footpaths and get to San Pietro Station again, or, if you mean to stay longer in Rome, we remind you that close to St. Peter's Square there are metro stations Lepanto and Ottaviano (line A) in addition to many bus lines.

As usual, we await your many comments and your travel stories!

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