We kicked things off in Rome with a visit to Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world. What did Italy have in store for us? Were all those stories on the Internet true? It was time to explore the world!
So we hailed a cab.
The cab driver was polite. He didn’t scam us. We arrived on time, unscathed, and only 10 Euros poorer. It was a good morning so far.
Prior to this, our only other experience with Viator was a half-day tour in Dubai, which was a disappointment. (Read about it here.) Thankfully, this time we could walk away from the Vatican City with mostly pleasant memories.
Our guide was an Italian lady with an impressive knowledge of Vatican history. She shared stories and techniques behind the major works of art, and we learned more about various Popes and the artists they commissioned.
One of the best parts of the Viator tour was that we got to skip the line. Why queue two hours when you can just waltz right in?
Within the museum, the number of paintings, tapestries, sculptures, and other artifacts was overwhelming. Eventually they became a blur. If you’re a museum junkie who HAS to read everything five times, then the tour wouldn’t allow you enough time to see everything at your own pace. We got the general feel of the place, but we haven’t got many nice photos as it was impossible to capture just a painting without having extra “characters” in it.
Chiaroscuro – the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.
By the way, the blue thing is a headset to hear the guide better. It’s included in the price, and was handy when we were indoors with the other sardines.
After the museum, we went into the Sistine Chapel, where we weren’t allowed to take any photos, and the security people were extremely strict about it. Still, others tried, and whatever awe we were hoping to feel in the presence of a masterpiece was being constantly interrupted by disagreements all around.
“Sir, put the camera away.”
“I’m just holding it. I’m not taking pictures.” (Right. We believe you.)
“Put the camera in your bag.”
“No, no. I don’t need to.”
“You don’t understand the rules. Keep. Your. Camera.”
And it went on. Meanwhile, the figures on the ceiling were literally looking down on a world of crazed tourists.
Finally, there was St. Peter’s Basilica, with its many works by the great masters, among them Bernini and Michelangelo. The guide gave us a quick tour, then bid us ciao and left us to explore on our own.
La Pietà by Michelangelo.
“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” – Michelangelo
NOTE: It would be amazing to lose yourself in all that beauty, but please don’t lose your valuables. While Edwin was taking this picture, a woman was standing way too close to him. She quickly walked away after she saw that I was glaring at her, and we didn’t get anything stolen. Not that we were keeping our wallets in easily accessible places.
We spent around five hours in the Vatican. It was crowded but bearable, and I can’t imagine what it’s like during peak tourist season! I would say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, mostly because I wouldn’t dive into that craziness a second time, especially if travelling with children. It’s not a child-friendly place, what with the jostling crowds and pickpockets lurking everywhere.
Still, from the art to the architecture, the Vatican has a lot to offer.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung