Our last full day arrived and Johnny managed to rearrange our reservation for 1 PM! We visited the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel (Michelangelo’s masterpiece) and St. Peter’s Basilica! Ironically, as we were told, he hated painting. Unfortunately we did not get to see Pope Francis as I had hoped at the beginning of our trip. It was so funny that Johnny gave us “decoy” blue Vatican specific headsets as they were required for all tour groups. We had the red one from Gate 1 and the Vatican brand both dangling from our necks. They gave us tickets to browse the amazing art collections acquired throughout the centuries. There’s a giant open court area where we spent about half an hour. I entertained myself by failing at creating optical illusions with the golden globe.
🇻🇦Stunning Intricate Artwork in Vatican 😲 We had to keep the crowd with moving but each way we turned there were amazing works of art. So glad we didn't have to miss out on seeing this! Last Italy trip blog post teaser. 🏛🌠 ANNOUNCEMENT 📣 currently working on a newsletter! Let me know if you're interested.
We then stepped into the the Gallery of Tapestries and the Geographical Maps. It was amazing seeing the amazing works of art frescoes, sculptures, maps documenting the history of the church! One work that stood out in particular was a 3D optical illusion. The impeccable shading made the painting look 3-dimensional, but the telltale sign was the large crack that needed restoration down the middle. We walked slowly through all of the exhibits. The tour guide advised us that we could either use the restroom or spend more time viewing the pièce de résistance, Sistine Chapel! This room is possibly the most famous work of art in the Vatican. It’s difficult to describe the immense scale of the great frescoes by Michelangelo. He put so much detail into each of the figures and there were so many characters to keep track of. I could have spent hours admiring. I was somewhat surprised that they had strict rules against taking photos and talking. The tour guide let us enjoy the views on our own. I abided by the rules, but I noticed several sneaky visitors taking photos. There were even tour guides who risked losing their license by conducting tours through the headset in the back! They have some seating protected by plastic frames along the walls.
Afterwards we continued to St. Peter’s Square, passing Bernini’s famous colonnade to view St. Peter’s Basilica, built on the burial site of Saint Peter, with the famous Michelangelo’s Pieta. More amazing artwork also awaited from the amazing tiled floors to the grand pulpit. I managed to get a perfect photo of the grand pulpit with beams of light beautifully shining down on it. The tombs of previous popes were fascinating to view. I don’t remember the names of the specific popes. The size of the Basilica was even more staggering when realizing the detail given to every inch of it. If you plan far in advance you can book a seat to see the Pope conducting Mass!
We spent our final moments browsing the Vatican gift shop where we could buy any religious gifts and other souvenirs before busing back to the the shambolic Romanico Palace. Dana purchased some Rosary beads for his great aunt and commemorative stamps for his collection (even though he hasn’t added anything to it in years)! I honestly didn’t even know he had one after 5 years… There was also an exclusive room with beautiful mosaic artwork displayed for purchase that we saw one of our travel companions inside. I tried pulling the door but it was locked from the outside for visitors! You need to summon a gift shop art curator employee to let you in! We didn’t realize the exorbitant costs though until we entered so we just admired the handiwork. It’s amazing that each mosaic requires these extremely small bits that are dyed so it takes days just for a small jewelry box! Needless to say we did not purchase anything else.
The Vatican was a great way to wrap up our 14 Day Trip through Italy! Even though I don’t have a personal connections to religion, I can truly appreciate the significance of visiting such an amazing location. I only wish we had more time to spend ourselves to browse the main Vatican museum. We returned back to the hotel’s restaurant for cocktails and farewells (AKA tipping the Tour Manager handsomely, more on that for the overall impression of Gate 1). The hotel staff laid out the usual bar snacks and cramped seating in a square shape along with some flat breads. Unfortunately I only had a chance to exchange contact information with a few in our group so if you stumbled upon my posts don’t hesitate to reach out!
Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★1/2