Vatican City, Italy
The Vatican is the quintessential place to visit when you’re in Rome. This was the place I was looking forward to the most out of all of our sightseeing in Italy. Unfortunately for us, the day we booked our tour was the day it was pouring rain in Rome. It wasn’t so bad though, as majority of the exhibits were indoor.
Vatican Travel tip: The Vatican gets really busy. Plan ahead and book tickets online. Don't expect to show up the day of and waltz into the Vatican, you'll be sorely disappointed and can expect to wait up to 2 hours to get in without a reservation. We booked a tour and tickets using the official Vatican website, which allowed us to skip the line and it proved to be the most affordable option!Two Peas Travel Tip
Just getting into the main lobby is a journey as we had to go through a tight airport security type of screening.
We selected the 3 hour Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica Tour. This included the Pio Clementino Museum, the Gallery of the Candelabras, the Gallery of the Geographical Maps, the Gallery of the Tapestries, the Raphael Rooms, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. It sounds like a lot and it was! The museum was huge and it can not be all seen in 3 hours or a day. A tour is a must as our guide walked us to the works that were most important and provided thorough explanations.
Fun fact: The Vatican is considered its own country and is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population. That’s why many people refer to it as Vatican City. The economy of Vatican City is supported by the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications.
While waiting to begin our tour, we checked out the Vatican gift shop. It had some really trendy items which Tiff was surprised how fashion forward they were.
We started the tour in the Pigna Courtyard with its famous pine cone statue.
We then moved on to the Pio Clementino Museum. Here is one of my favorites: Laocoön and His Sons showing them struggling as a serpent is sent to kill them. Really dramatic baroque style work. This is the original that was excavated in Rome in the 1500s.
We then moved to the Gallery of the Candelabras.
An amazing gallery we went through next was the Gallery of Geographical Maps. It showed some really amazing frescos of Italy and all the different regions. In addition, the ceiling boasts some really creative artwork that seems to span forever.
Gallery of the Tapestries contain some of the most amazing draped art. One of my favorites is the last supper of Christ. The detail is amazing.
The guide continued to the Raphael rooms which contains the master’s work. A very famous piece is the School of Athens.
A funny side comment our guide also showed us was that the staff parking lot was adjacent to the Raphael rooms.
While in the Raphael room, our guide mentioned we were “lucky” that it wasn’t as busy that day. It was very crowded and stuffy, as we could barely move without running into someone else. While we were in there, a woman in our tour group actually fainted! Apparently this happens a lot in these rooms as the ventilation is not that great and there are so many people in such a small space. I’m glad we didn’t have to experience coming here in the summer time when it’s considered a “busy” day and it’s even hotter.
After the Raphael Rooms we breezed through the art gallery also known as the Viale della Zitella. It was disappointing as our tour guide explained how there were incredible works of art to be seen including works from Matisse, Michelangelo, Perugino, Titian, Giotto and Raphael. However, since we didn’t have enough time, we were just going to skip it entirely! Tiff managed to snag a few photos while we were making our way through.
We didn’t have much time to be disappointed, as we were making our way to the Sistine Chapel. I was only able to capture an incognito shot since taking pictures are forbidden inside the Sistine Chapel. Either way, photos do not do any justice for the place. I could probably sit inside for hours just staring at the ceiling and still be amazed. Unfortunately, the tour had to continue so we were only given a few moments to appreciate the fine work of Michelangelo.
The final stop of the tour ended in St Peter’s Basilica. It’s actually the largest church in the world. One of the holiest places that contain so many relics and tombs of popes. The waitlist to get married here is apparently a whopping 7 years!
First stop, another magnificent work – Michelango’s Pieta
Every corner we turned was some epic statue or painting. Every other corner we turned was the tomb of a famous pope. It was really surreal being close to over a thousand years of religious relics and history.
After walking out of St Peter’s Basilica, we were met with St. Peter’s Square. Another of Bernini’s masterpieces – the columns representing “maternal arms” of the Catholic church welcoming its followers.
By the time we left St. Peter’s Square the sun was about to set so we were able to capture the transition as the square became beautifully lit up.
We had dinner in Trastevere, a charming neighborhood in Rome that still has its Italian touch and hasn’t been overrun by tourist menus.
Our best meal while in Italy was at Hostaria La Botticella. The menu was simple, but the ingredients were very fresh and each dish was well balanced.
We ended the night at Pompi, which is said to have the best Tiramisu in Rome. Our hotel told us to go there only for the traditional Tiramisu and nothing else.
We didn’t bother trying any other Tiramisus in town to compare, but it was definitely very good, and the best we’ve ever had.
As we were making our way out of Pompi, we all went to grab our umbrellas from the buckets they place in the front for you to keep your wet umbrellas. Tiff’s umbrella was missing and there were only broken umbrellas left inside the buckets. Her umbrella was stolen! Tiff mentioned while eating our Tiramisu if she should grab her umbrella from the front, but decided not to, since we were in the middle of eating. Although it sucked having her umbrella stolen, it was a good reminder for us to be careful of theft and to listen to your gut feeling while traveling. Thankfully, this was the only theft we encountered during our travels in Italy.
It was quite the eventful, rainy, and delicious adventure we had on our day visiting Vatican City and Trastevere. Vatican City is a must visit when in Rome, and even after seeing so much on our tour, there’s still so much left to see. You could easily spend several days there soaking in all the magnificent art work and history. The scale and detail on display is astonishing, and you will leave amazed. Adding that with some delicious local Italian cuisine and the tastiest tiramisu made it much more memorable.
Video we took inside the Vatican, enjoy!