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On our 4th day in Rome, we went back to Vatican City to join a guided tour of the Vatican Museums.
There are several Skip-the-line Vatican Museum guided tour available online but I opted to book our tickets and tour from the official Vatican ticketing site. What I liked about booking through them directly is the variety of tour itineraries available for individuals, groups, families, pilgrims, deaf and blind visitors. In addition, there are options to join a night or ‘out of hours’ tour, breakfast in the Vatican gardens or full day Vatican tour by train.
Since it was our first visit, we booked the most popular tour which is the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica guided tour.
On the way to the Vatican Museum from the train station, there are several individuals trying to sell tour tickets to tourists. One of them approached our group and said he is an official Vatican Museum employee, even showing us an ID. He saw me holding our printed vouchers and told us that the type of voucher we have do not include access to St. Peter’s Basilica and that we would have to fall in line again to enter the church. I knew right away that it was some form of scam so we went on our way and ignored the guy. So please watch out for this kind of tricks!
Booking through the Vatican ticketing website means we get skip-the-line access again, so convenient! When we got there, the line for buying tickets was really long and it probably would have taken us two hours before we could get in. So again, my advice is to book your tickets in advance!
The vouchers were exchanged into admission tickets at the “Guided Tours” desk (After security clearance, climb the stairs on the far left of the entrance hall). We were early so we waited at the designated meeting point at the Guided Tours area. There is also a souvenir shop at the center of the waiting area where you can buy Vatican City official merchandise like rosaries, keychains, photo books and more.
Our tour guide’s name is Roberta. Before the start of the actual tour, she gave us a brief introduction and an overview of what we will see on the tour. She also reminded us that it is forbidden to take pictures or videos at the Sistine Chapel. Guides are also not allowed to give narration while inside the Sistine Chapel (no talking allowed inside the chapel). Instead, there was a photo of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling shown on the monitor while she narrated the story of Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
VATICAN MUSEUM GUIDED TOUR
The Sfera con Sfera or the Sphere within a Sphere is a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. It is the centerpiece of the Courtyard of Pinecone.
This bronze Pine Cone or the Pigna was once a Roman fountain.
The centerpiece of the Octagonal Courtyard at the Vatican Museums.
Modeled after the Pantheon is the Sala Rotonda.
The ceiling at the Tapestries Hall is particularly interesting because it appears as if it was three-dimensional when in fact it was painted flat. Amazing!
Next is the Gallery of Maps. The maps are of Italy and its provinces.
Probably the most photographed ceiling at the Vatican Museums! Yes, not the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, because again, you’re not allowed to take a picture of it!
Right after this is the Sistine Chapel. It’s not exactly quiet inside the Chapel because there’s just too many people inside. So occasionally, you would hear someone yelling “Silence” or the guards shushing the crowd.
Nevertheless, it was a beauty and definitely a must-see while in the Vatican City!
ST. PETER’S BASILICA GUIDED TOUR
The Holy Door is only opened every 25 years during the Holy Year (Jubilee).
After the tour, we spent a few minutes outside at the Piazza.
The tour was well worth every penny spent. The only downside is that I didn’t get to see the spiral staircase designed by architect Giuseppe Momo (inspired by Bramante’s work). At the start of the tour we went straight ahead to the Vatican Museums and because there were so many people, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd and be separated from your tour group. Also, right after the Sistine Chapel, we exited a doorway leading to St. Peter’s Basilica. Maybe next time.
Once you exit the Vatican Museums, you cannot go back in. If you are on this tour and there was an area/artwork that you wanted to see that wasn’t covered by the tour, better tell the tour guide so you can separate from the group before they head out to St. Peter’s Basilica. That would essentially mean you won’t have a guide at the Basilica. It’s totally your choice.
Hope you enjoyed this photo tour of the Vatican Museums. See you in my next post!
Check out the rest of my trip using the links below. I have also listed some Rome Travel Essentials you can book in advance for a better travel experience.
Private Transfer between Fiumicino Airport and Rome City Centre
Shared Shuttle Bus Transfer between Fiumicino Airport to Rome Termini Station
Omnia Vatican and Rome Pass | Roma Pass
Rome Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
Eurail Global Pass (Flexible Days)
MyWebspot Pocket Wifi Rental – I have personally used their services before and they are great especially their customer service!
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This blog post is Day 4 of my Italy Travel Diary Series. To read about the rest of my trip, click on the links below:
Day 1: Arrival in Rome – Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps
Day 2: Colosseum and Roman Forum
Day 3: Vatican City (Papal Blessing/Angelus) and the Historic Centre of Rome
Day 5: Naples Bus Tour/Pompeii Tour
Day 6: Arrival in Florence – First Class Guesthouse/Historic Centre of Firenze
Day 7: Barberino Designer Outlet
Day 8: Accademia and Uffizi Gallery
Day 9: Last Day in Rome – Night Views of the Colosseum and Castel Sant’ Angelo