Casa Walrath in Napoli


The Vatican area and the Vatican Scavi

March 13th saw the IAS group heading to Rome for what was probably the best trip I've been on so far. We explored the environs of St. Peters and the Vatican, learning how the area grew from 150 A.D. to the present.

Olivia, our guide and a historian par excellence, led us along the defensive walls, explored the neighborhoods, and then brought us to one of the palazia facing St. Peter's Square, the Rovere. Most of the photos linked below are from this location. Although the visible identification on the building indicates it's the Hotel Columbus, entering through the central area, up a narrow staircase, one discovers a quite impressive series of public rooms with many reminders of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem since it is the headquarters of the order. As we left the Rovere, our host offered each of us a copy of the Register of the order-something that for me is a great treat, being a student of the history of the Church.

After a wonderful lunch near St. Peters, we headed to the Scavi. Our group split into two groups of 12 (the maximum tour size for the Scavi), and we started out. Our group's guide was a young man from California who is studying classical languages at one of the Pontifical faculties in Rome. His knowledge, ability to read the Latin inscriptions, and his friendly manner made our time under St. Peter's a very valuable tour. Vatican rules forbid photographs in the Scavi proper, so there are no photos from the time we left the Crypt level.

We were led through the excavated mausoleums until we were nearly under the High Altar, where we were able to view the burial place of Saint Peter, and before that, the surrounding structures including the high altar from the Constantine-era St. Peter's Basilica. We were also able to glimpse the mortal remains of St. Peter, in repose within the "graffiti wall", where archeologists believe he was reinterred sometime after 150 A.D.

This link is to the Scavi website with more historical information.

This link is to my photos from the tour.