Nearly 20,000 people stream through the Vatican every day. For newcomers and return visitors alike, the comprehensive four-hour tours led by Context Travel will give you the scholarly and entertaining details behind the most fascinating works in the Vatican Museums.
St. Peter’s Basilica was built to impress: 198 feet wide, 145 tall, and 614 long (brass floor plaques show how much shorter other famous churches are), with cherubs the size of linebackers and enough great art to fill two museums.
In the year 590, as he prayed for Rome’s deliverance from a plague, St. Gregory the Great had a encouraging vision of an angel sheathing its sword above Castel Sant’Angelo, a massive brick castle built atop the drum of Hadrian’s first-century mausoleum. The plague ended, and the castle got a new name (and, in 1752, a spiffy bronze statue of the angel).
During the Christmas seasons, Romans erect elaborate presepi (Nativity scenes) across the city. Rome's Christmas market action centers on Piazza Navona, its Bernini fountains surrounded by stalls hawking toys, handmade presepio figures, carnival games of chance, ciambelle (dinner plate-size doughnuts), and 101 variations on peanut brittle.