San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) in Rome sits on the end of a tedious trek on top of a hill not far from The Colosseum. We huffed, puffed and perspired (at the request of Deborah, my wife) up the final flights of stairs to the door, only to find that it closes from 12:30 to 3:00 (15:00). "Madonna Mia! It's only 20 minutes til 2:00!"
We decided to find a spot to have some liquid refreshment, so we walked past the Universita' Degli Studi Di Roma "La Sapienza - Facoltà di Ingegneria" to a busy pizza shop and espresso bar. Espressos were 1 Euro if you stood at the bar, at least double if you sat on the patio. The rest of Deborah's family, the kids, their mom and grandma sat on the patio and ordered soft drinks - an expensive choice for five people.
_We passed the time afterwards by visiting The Colosseum, another series of hills and steps. It was amazing and spectacular, as expected.
Eventually, we worked our way back to St. Peter's, dodging Italian men dressed like gladiators goading us to have our pictures taken with them. They were convincing in their representation except for the occasional cell phone and stylish tattoo.
Exterior of St. Peter in Chains
St. Peter in Chains, from the outside, is a deceptively plain and unattractive place. It's difficult to imagine that there would be anything inside that you'd want to see - until you go inside.
According to my wife Deborah, in the 70s, in the days of mini-skirts, she and her sister wanted to go inside St. Peter in Chains but were turned away more than once by the strict watchers of the front door. There was a dress code and a sign admonishing visitors to be respectful and descent in both their behavior and appearance.
Her sister tried and tried to sneak in, eventually putting on an overcoat that covered her knees, skulking past the doorkeepers. A few steps inside, she suddenly found herself floating in mid-air. Perhaps it was the rapturous power of the space that enveloped her. Perhaps not.
In actuality, it was two guards picking her and carrying her out the door as her feet wiggled underneath her.
("What's that? Oh... My wife just told me that happened at St. Peter's Basilica, not St. Peter in Chains. Oops.")