Today Moms had booked us on the Scavi Tour. It is a tour of the tombs beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. We had breakfast at the hotel and then had them call us a taxi to leave the country. We were a little early for our tour, so we took pictures and looked around St. Peter’s Square a little bit. The Scavi Tour entrance is on the side of the basilica and you have book it in advance. It’s in an area that I think is mainly adminstrative buildings for The Vatican and to get there you show the Swiss Guards there your paperwork for them to let you in. At the allotted time they took our group, us 6 plus about 8 other people, to the tour office. The tour is about an hour long so everyone took a potty break before we started since once you enter, you’re in there for the duration.
A quick history lesson. Roman at the time believed that you did not disturb the resting place of the dead. When Saint Peter died, some of his followers snuck off with his body. Knowing that once they buried him nobody would disturb his body and if they didn’t he wouldn’t have gotten any sort of proper burial. So they buried him in this burial ground amongst other mausoleums and crypts. St. Peter’s Basilica is built over the tomb of Saint Peter. His tomb is directly below the main altar. It had to be built there as the center of the Catholic Church. Most of the previous Popes are in the crypt below the basilica. A couple decades ago this area was small and uncomfortable to stand. They were renovating the crypt to make some more room and discovered the mausoleums below. During those excavations they discovered a tomb that seemed a little out of place. This was the tomb of St. Peter. The Scavi Tour is a tour of those mausoleums and gives you the closest view of St. Peter’s tomb.
You get a guide who explains the history and takes you down and talks in detail about everything going on down there. They don’t allow photos and it can be pretty warm down there. It’s a fascinating tour and I think most people don’t know it exists and never see it.
The tour ends with the crypts of the previous Popes, which is in a publicly accessible area, and you exit and can head into the basilica from there. It actually bypasses the regular security check and line which can get long. Once inside we all explored at our own pace. I’ve seen a few older churches on this trip and in the past, but St. Peter’s Basilica still manages to impress. On our last visit the front of the church near the main alter was blocked off, so we didn’t get to see that too much. This time it was open though, so there was still something new for us.
Moms, Jules and I had already visited the Vatican Museums on our last trip so we weren’t looking to do it again. Nina and Fam left to see that and the Sistine Chapel. Jules left and decided to walk back to the hotel and just see whatever caught her interest. That left Moms and I alone. We headed down the street to Castel Sant’Angelo to check that out, but it was closed. Guess we’ll go get some food.