Valerie Anne Burns
4 min readOct 4, 2022

Day 6 in Rome — St Peter’s Cathedral and Cupola… and an Italian Hospital Visit

Today, my friend, Millena and I went back to St. Peter’s Square to enter the cathedral. It is a both overwhelming and a grand, majestical site to see and take in. It’s amazing to imagine centuries ago the artists that created such beauty. It’s a marvel and also mind-boggling. Who is capable of that today?

Here's the interesting part of the story: I decided to climb the stairs to the Cupola where you are outside and walk the circle to see all of Rome from that height. I drank water beforehand but although I took the elevator up 200 of the steps, I had 325 steep steps to go that winds and winds in a narrow path up and up. It was quite a hot temperature, and I was panting hard. Even the 20-somethings were panting. I made it up to the top and the view was out of this world.

By the time I got up there, I was so hot. It takes a lot for me to sweat. After the picture taking, I made my way to the exit and down 325 steep stairs. Finally, I was down but felt myself going down. I caught myself, but I was shaking and very wobbly. I found my friend and I’m sure I was looking pale. I still felt like I was going to faint and couldn’t catch my breath. I will not get into the whole story of the Medics taking me to the hospital and wishing I knew fluent Italian, because it’s a long one. It took over an hour to feel less faint and the nurse wanted to give me IV electrolytes but my challenging and fragile veins didn’t allow it. I warned her of the challenge. Only a few trusted nurses back home can. I promised my Italian nurse that I would pick some up at the pharmacy. I did.

Here's what I would say as fair warning if you ever climb the Cupola stairs in Rome or something similar. Pour electrolytes into a water bottle and bring it with you! I was obviously overheated and dehydrated. I also have very low blood pressure. With that said, it was rather dramatic. But I did make it up there and am able to share these photos

I am exhausted. I took a taxi from the hospital, picked up my electrolytes, gobbled down a delicious vegetable lasagna from the cafe-bar around the corner from my hotel. While I waited for my lasagna, the young and sweet server in the cafe brought me a big glass of water and I poured the packet in and drank it down.

It's kind of a crazy story and as someone who is authentic, I revealed my rather embarassing and humbling truth of the day. It was an adventure. As a freestyle participant, I didn't have to hold anyone back when the Medics insisted I be taken to the hospital in an ambulance! Yikes. And the Italian care in a hospital is free of charge. I am alive and here to tell the story of a Rome exploration at the famous St Peter's Cathedral. :)

My last blog on behalf of SMOV for day 7 is tomorrow. Bitter sweet. I won't be climbing 325 steep steps on day 7 ;)

Keep on swimming through life,

Valerie Anne

Valerie Anne Burns

Author of Caution: Mermaid Crossing, Voyages of a Motherless Daughter”; Blogger; Breast Cancer Survivor; Hollywood Survivor; Workshop Leader; & Beauty Seeker.