Your small-group tour starts in St Peter’s Square, where you’ll meet your professional guide at 8:30am. Skip the lines with exclusive access through the Vatican, Rome's famous papal enclave. Along the way, your guide will point out a few significant sites in the square, designed by Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Pass the northern fountain and the impressive obelisk, which dates back to 13th-century BC Egypt.
Head to the elevator for a ride to the cupola of St Peter's Basilica, created by Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo. When you reach the base of the dome, gaze up at the exquisite mosaics and learn about the artistry of Michelangelo’s design, completed by his successors in 1590.
Then, follow your guide up approximately 300 steps to the top of the cupola, the highest point in Rome, which reaches 450 feet (150 meters) from the floor to the cross at the top – large enough for the Statue of Liberty to fit inside! The dome’s summit affords spectacular views of the basilica’s interior as well as over much of the city – a unique experience that’s only available with this exclusive tour.
After you descend, begin your small-group walking tour through St Peter’s Basilica, whose cornerstone was laid in 1506. Your guide will explain the highlights of the basilica, which is believed to stand on the ground where St Peter the Apostle was crucified and buried. Hear about its significance as the holiest place in Christendom, and admire the incredible feats of architecture and art. You’ll see Michelangelo’s Pietà, rub the statue of St Peter for a blessing and pass some of the 91 papal tombs before ending your tour of the world’s largest church with a view of the Swiss Guards in St Peter’s Square.