Climbing the Dome of the Basilica is one of the highlights of a trip in Rome.
We owe the design and the calculations to Michelangelo, who worked on the largest dome in the world until the last years of his life, but not living long enough to see it finished. It is probably one of his finest achievements, and counts numerous descendants around the world like in Washington D.C. or St. Paul in London.
The visit starts early in the morning ( best at 0900 am ) to avoid crowds and queues, and an elevator takes you to the roof level, saving you about 200 steps. You walk around the base of the dome high inside the basilica, to get a true sense of its scale. The tiny tourists below you look like ants, while the decorations above you tat looked like paintings reveal to be mosaics.
From here, you have two options. Go for further exploration on the roof, pop in the souvenir shop and the cafeteria, and have a look at the unequaled view of the Square below.
The other option is to climb up varying staircases for a total of 330 steps. For the most part you follow spiral staircases, and in many parts the walls lean in forming their dome shape. In the last spiral a rope help you emerge breathlessly to the top and the stunning 360° views of Rome that meet you from every side.