The Vatican

** Tip: Make sure that you purchase your tickets in advance – starting at $32 – to skip the long lines.  Be on time! If you are a minute late they will turn you around and reject your entrance even if you have a ticket.**

The Vatican at night.

The Vatican is located in Rome, but is often considered its own city.  To some its own 2 mile circumference country.  The Vatican lives by their own set of rules, and has their own leaders – namely The Pope.  We strolled to the Vatican before our tour was scheduled the next day on a Rome night walk (which is on a separate page).  Walking down the cobblestone streets towards yet another piece of old Roman history was stirring up something inside our souls.

Although the Vatican and Catholicism is under a lot of scrutiny for its scandals, you have to admit that it is beautiful – even with its over the top opulence.

The next day we took the metro and got to the Vatican just in time.  Luckily we managed to get there before we’d be late and be turned around.  The Vatican museum looks like any other museum when you first enter.  It’s marble and barren, only a few things that initially catch your eye.  **Tip: Use the WC’s before you start your tour.  Bathrooms are hard to come by.  There are WC’s after you go through security.**

Guided tours, and self audio tour devices are available to purchase.  We decided on this trip that we would use the Rick Steve’s audio guide, which was amazing! What better way to travel than with a well-respected travel guide.

As you first enter into the museum you will see to your right a long line of busts.  It would take a full day just to walk through that hall.  Rick Steve’s and the two of us recommend skipping it if you’re limited on time.  You will find room after room, corridor after corridor with nothing but ancient eye candy for you to taste.  You’ll walk down long corridor’s lined with gold leaf paint that seem to go on for miles.  You can visit the Egyptian room and see a petrified exposed mummy to a corridor of intricate woven tapestries, to bust and sculptures of pagan gads, Christian leaders and Popes.  Fresco’s, sculptures, tapestries, gold, all adorn the Vatican, ready for you to take a moment to contemplate if there is a need for all of this opulence.

The long corridors of the Vatican.

If you’re not dizzy enough from taking in the absolute beauty of the Vatican, just wait until you enter the Four Rooms of Raphael.  Raphael was commissioned by Pope Julius to paint his apartment.  The frescos decorate top to bottom depiction of the past biblical scene’s that capture the Renaissance period and the romanticism that goes along with it.  Take a few minutes and breath is all in.  Imagine Raphael himself on a ladder, painting these magnificent pieces of art.

Also, take in for a moment that just down the hall from Raphael was painting, Michelangelo was commissioned to pain the Sistine Chapel with his infamous piece of art to date.  When you enter the Chapel expect it to be shoulder to shoulder packed.  Absolutely no photographs are allowed, and to be bought at the museum gift shop.  Part of this having to do with the light of the flash on your camera slowly decaying the paint, and of course to have more money for the church.  Michelangelo didn’t consider himself a painter, but a sculptor.  In the end, he is more famous for his paintings than his sculptures.  Nothing could even touch what he did with the Sistine Chapel.  He had to build special scaffolding just so he could reach to dome of the chapel.

Raphael’s stroke of genius

The ceiling of the Four Rooms of Raphael






The day that we were there Trump was also there.  We didn’t know of course until we found out later through the newspapers.  Which would explain why sections of the Vatican had extra security, and in the Chapel itself we were instructed to quickly take the photographs as a “very important person” (their words, not mine) was there.  It turns out that he was on the same world tour of us.  More on that when we get to France.

If do go to Rome, whether you are Catholic or not, be sure to take in The Vatican.  It is truly beautiful in every sense of the word, and will leave powerless not to shed a tear from the absolutely astounding work from two of the greatest artists ever…Raphael and Michelangelo.