Vatican City Museums

On our last day in Rome, Stephen and I set off bright and early from our AirBnb in order to make it to Vatican City early in the morning. We had planned to visit the Vatican Museums before lunch and then head over to St. Peter’s Basilica for the afternoon. When we arrived around 10am (the museum opens at 9am), there was already a line along one wall, but didn’t circle the block yet. Even then, we didn’t get past the gates until close to 11am.
Tip: If you’re not set on seeing The Pope avoid visiting on Wednesdays, which can be busier with the Papal Audience.

The Museums had a great collection of sculptures and artifacts but what I loved were the stunning frescos. There wasn’t much information about each of the artifacts posted and I found the audio guide we were using (Rick Steve’s) short on details. A Guided Tour may have made the experience more enriching for us. Navigating the rooms were easy and there was really only one path to follow. At some points, we felt like sardines swimming down the corridors packed with tourists. My favourite rooms were the last 3 galleries on the upper floor including the Tapestry and Map room. The only way to get to the Sistine Chapel is through the museum, which takes about 2-3 hours to walk through depending on your pace and the crowd. It’s 100% worth it.
Tip: Once you get to The Sistine Chapel, you’ll be asked to keep moving and keep voices down. Try to find a free spot on the benches along the wall to take in the seriously breathtaking ceiling. Note that photos aren’t allowed although some tourists will try to sneak in a shot. I found the quiet reflective moment quite a nice break from all the tourist activities.

At this point after hours of walking, I was ready for a break. Stephen and I grabbed a snack and coffee at the cafe and rested before heading over to St. Peter’s Square. Once we arrived, we saw another long queue. We were running a few hours behind schedule and were pretty hungry so decided it was time to go find food. We didn’t get the chance to go inside St. Peter’s Basilica or visit the Vatican Gardens, which I would’ve liked to see if we hadn’t run out of stamina.
Tip: The Vatican has its own postal office and issues their own postage stamps, sending a postcard from the city makes a great souvenir for family and friends.

Wandering down a side street just outside of the city, we found a area filled with small shops and cafes. Stephen and I picked up a delicious porchetta sandwich and a few scoops of gelato before heading home.

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