Climbing to the top of St Peter’s dome is one of the highlights of a trip to Rome. Here is how to climb the dome and how to skip the queue.
Not that many visitors know that it is possible to climb up to the top of St Peter’s dome (the “cupola”). Actually getting on top of St Peter’s dome is one of Rome must do, and a great opportunity to enjoy a fantastic and dizzying city panorama all around Rome and to admire a top down view of St Peter’s basilica nave.
When to visit St Peter’s dome
Best thing for you would be to visit the dome first thing in the morning, when it opens, at 8:00 AM. Not much queue at that time, you may have the dome almost for yourself.
In that case, you may first climb up the dome and then visit St Peter’s basilica (when you get down from the dome you will end up in the nave).
A good alternative is to climb on top of St Peter’s dome before it closes: you will then admire Rome in its unique sunset golden light. In Wintertime, you will see Rome’s lights and, at Christmas, the huge Christmas tree in St Peter’s square.
Similarly, first go up to the dome, then visit the Basilica, which closes later than the dome.
In summertime, better to avoid climbing on top of St Peters dome in the hottest hours of the day: the stairs and the viewpoint can get very hot and uncomfortable at that time.
How to climb up St Peter’s dome
In order to climb up St Peter’s dome, you need to go throw St Peter cathedral security check.
At the entrance to the basilica, after the security check, look right. There is a sign that directs you to the far right of the portico (past the Holy Door) and to the kiosk for the elevator.
This is where you purchase the tickets to St Peter’s dome. Note that the Basilica entrance is on the right side of the colonnade.
In high season, queues could be very long and spoil part of your day.
You may don’t know it, but it’s pretty easy to stay in a Tuscany castle hotel, and the good knew is that prices are very reasonable. Here is my selection of Tuscany castles where you can sleep and treat yourself like a king!
Have you ever dreamed to spend a night or two in a real castle? High rise crenelated walls, majestic dungeons, the echos of ferocious battles that took place centuries ago…
Well, let the dream come true! Tuscany offers an incredible variety of castles, and many of them have been turned into country houses and luxury resorts.
In this post I’d like to share with you my favorite Castle accommodations in Tuscany. Treat yourself as a knight, for a night!
The beautiful Castello di Spedaletto was built in the XII century along the old Via Francigena (the path pilgrims followed to walk their way down to Rome). It is a perfect example of a middle age castle in a beautiful setting in the Val D’Orcia, close to Pienza, Bagno Vignoni and San Quirico D’Orcia (read my post Pienza, Sant’Antimo, Bagno Vignoni: delightful Val d’Orciato know what to do, eat and see)
It features a large yard, an “ecologic” swimming pool and a very relaxed atmosphere. Relatively cheap (it is an “Agriturismo”), Castello di Spedaletto is perfect for visiting the Val D’Orcia, especially if you are traveling with kids.
Tip: when reserving, ask for the rooms inside the castle, more scenic compared to the ones built in the old fortified wall.
Here we move to Siena Countryside. Castel Pietraio is a gorgeous castle from the XI° century. It is located in Strove, a very small hamlet close to Monteriggioni, and to the beautiful church of Badia Isola. Lovely vineyards and sunflowers fields surrounds it. It’s a 4 star small hotel, still belonging to the original noble family (Barone Neri del Nero).
Castel Pietraio is also a farm with an excellent vocation to quality wine-growing: you will be able to taste Chianti Superiore (of course!), Chardonnay, Merlot and Vin Santo.
A personal anecdote: this is the hotel I choose for me and my wife when we got married!
Massive, awe-inspiring, castello di Meleto stands in the beautifull Chiantishire valley, close to Gaiole in Chianti. Its striking location and its vaulted halls are often used to host weddings parties, but you don’t necessarily need to get married to sleep in one of the beautifully decorated rooms!
For longer stays, you can also choose to rent a self catering apartment in the nearby dependence.
Castello di Meleto produces an excellent Chianti, that you can taste in the modern wine shop after visiting the old cellars.
This is a fortified abbey, built in 1049 and transformed in a countryside villa in the XIXth century. It features a Romanesque church, beautiful cloisters, a gorgeous walled garden and huge cellars, as old as the abbey itself!
Regarding your stay, you can choose between the 8 rooms and the 5 apartments. Badia a Coltibuono offers also wine tasting, cooking courses and local delicacies tastings.
Hint: the abbey is 650 meters above sea level, which makes it a perfect place during summer. Winters and springs, on the other hand, can be really chilly.
Strictly speaking, Monteriggioni is not exactly a castle, but a medieval walled hamlet located on a natural hill. Sienese built it in 1214-1219 as a front line in their wars against Florence. Said so, Monteriggioni is one of the most evocative medieval villages in Italy.
Located 14 km from Siena. Monteriggioni has became famous for its fourteen towers’ walls which are among the best preserved all over Italy. Believe me, it’s one of the most scenic places in Tuscany, not to miss even if you decide to sleep elsewhere (which would be a pity, indeed!).
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Relax in natural hot water pools, surrounded by centenary trees and beautiful lawns, less than 20 minutes drive from Peschiera and Sirmione, and for a very reasonable price? Yes you can, in the Parco termale del Garda (“Garda Thermal Park”)!