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  • Writer's pictureThe Rivers School

March 12:  Day Two

Our second full day began with a trip across the Tiber river to the Bernini-designed Saint Peter's Square, followed by a visit to Saint Peter's Basilica. The square invites visitors in with its perfectly symmetrical colonnades, while the centrally located obelisk functions as an effective focal point. The square is immense in size and nicely sets the stage for the scale of the basilica. We started our exploration of the basilica at Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Pieta. This marble statue emotionally depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of her dead son. Students then made their way through the church, examining the alcoves, side altars, and even the subterranean crypts of the popes. Eight intrepid students took the elevator and steep (very!) stairs to the catwalk above the church.

After a restful lunch in a quiet neighborhood just north of the Vatican, we headed to Castel Sant'Angelo. Originally built by the emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum in the second century A.D., it was turned into a papal fortress and is now a museum. The roof of the castle provides one of the best panoramas of the city, and the students enjoyed identifying the various buildings they had visited the day before. The day ended with dinner at a traditional Roman trattoria in the beautiful Prati neighborhood.


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