For my Vatican Museum tour, I chose a ‘Skip the line’ through City Wonders. Mainly and importantly because I didn’t want to stuff around losing precious time waiting in line to get into to the Vatican. For cost of the ticket ($101 AUD), and 3 hours in the Vatican, I’d pay it again over and over. I saw the lines at 7.30am. I pitied those people knowing I had easy access in.
It is an early start but, you really do need this to be able to do The Vatican before loads of other tourists come in. Mostly our group of about 20 were able to walk through without the tangle of too many solo visitors and other tourist groups. The Sistine Chapel is an exception of course. It’s all kinds of crazy in there. More on that later though.
Our tour starts by going through security checks as you would at an airport. You are given an ear piece in order to hear the guide clearly. Toilet stops done and then you’re in. Onto the Vatican Garden’s Balcony, and then into the Pinecourt Courtyard.
Following that it is through the Vatican Museums, Gallery of Maps and Gallery of Tapestries and various pieces of artwork by the Masters of the Italian art world. Everywhere you look there is a statue, a painting. Even the floor is decorated, but the roof is beyond amazing. I spent a lot of time looking upwards. The art is incredible. There is no other way to describe it. The thing is you are only shown a very small portion of the art that is housed at the Vatican, so the mind boggles as to what else they have.
From there it is off the famous Sistine Chapel, where upon entry I gasped! This is the place where new Popes are elected. This history of that alone is incredible. But what is MOST impressive is the artwork and knowing Michelangelo himself painted its most famous roof. You can read more about the historical facts of the Sistine Chapel here because it is far too much for me to put into words!
While you’re in the Sistine Chapel you are expected to be quiet and to move on through without talking. You are also not allowed to take photos; it is on the signs saying that taking photos are ’forbidden’. But people do. And I may have a cheeky selfie looking up to the roof of the chapel. We are humans, following orders for most parts is easy enough but when you have soooo much beauty above you WHY CAN YOU NOT TAKE PHOTOS???? One thing I will take from being in the Sistine Chapel is the numerous times I heard “no talking”, or ”no photos” from the security guards.
Anyway, being in there was actually incredible. Even with the number of tourists that were in there. On this tour you get a decent amount of time to wonder around the chapel. If you can, find a spot on the side of the chapel side for a while and just bask in the place. Think about the history and what has actually happened in there that has changed the course of history. That in itself is pretty massive.
From the Sistine Chapel it was a quick walk to St Peter’s Basilica where you are taken in to roam around and a short brief about the crypts and other tours you can do from there. We got to walk around the Basilica with our guide for about 30 minutes which included a brief chat about its history, the altar and wings of the basilica.
The tour ends out the front where you are now able to wonder around at your own pace and take plenty of photos. Which I certainly did. You can either head off and explore more of the Vatican City or move on to see more of Rome. There’s some great stuff within walking distance.
The day I went they were setting up outside St Peter’s for a service by the Pope the next day, so there were seats everywhere. I was most impressed by the entirety and majesty of the Vatican. Not being much of a religious person (if at all anything) it was not lost on me the suffering and pain caused by this institution.
Where I come from (Ballarat) the Catholic Church has been the source of so much pain for too many children at the hands of pedophile priests. I know this is a problem the world over, so being in the epicenter of all of this was something that was at times a little hard to stomach. I waved the tourist flag, and a history lover. Plus, ticking off another country (superficial I know) was also a highlight. Another thing that blew my mind about Rome and Italy.
If you’re in Rome, you can’t not do the Vatican Museum tour and I would recommend the one I did. If anything, just do a tour to skip the line. You’ll be thankful for it.