Monday, August 6, 2018

Italy-- Vatican Tour and Walking Around Rome

Good Morning! Thanks for following along with us as we recap the Italy trip we took in 2016. If you'd like to see the itinerary for our trip, you can click here.

Today's recap starts with our (very early!) tour of the Vatican. This tour started at 7:30 a.m., which is about an hour and a half before the museum opens to the public. It sounds rough to wake up at 6:00 a.m. on vacation in order to be showered, fed, and at your location by 7:30 but I cannot recommend this early tour enough, especially since we were there Easter weekend. Rome and the Vatican were SUPER busy that weekend, and I think trying to tour the Vatican with the massive crowds would've made it difficult to appreciate.

This is the entrance to the Vatican Museum. At 7:30 a.m. there was already a line forming to get in when it opened to the public at 9:00. We went on an official tour through a company called Walks of Italy (we absolutely would recommend them by the way if anyone is going to Italy and wants a tour of any major site in Rome, Florence or Venice—they were awesome and worth every penny!). When we first got into the museum our tour guide, Guido, told us we were going to have to move fast and we were going directly to the Sistine Chapel. Other private tour groups would be coming in behind us and we wanted to spend as much time there as possible before it got crowded. Guido was NOT KIDDING about moving fast through the museum. The little old man ran faster through the Vatican Museum than Devin and I do in our marathons (not an impressive pace to beat, in case you're wondering ☺️). 

The inside of the musem was so ornately decorated. If Guido hadn't been rushing us, we could've spent hours looking at everything. That being said, I am really happy Guido rushed us because when we got to the Sistine Chapel, we practically had the place to ourselves which was AMAZING!
More of the inside of the Vatican Museum

So now that we have broken a sweat getting through the Vatican Museum to the Sistine Chapel, Guido stopped to tell us about the various paintings inside and what to look for because once we were inside, the church is very particular about their two rules: NO taking pictures and NO TALKING IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL. At this point I would like to let everyone know what chatterboxes Devin and I turn into when we are excited about something. So put us in the Sistine Chapel and tell us we can’t talk to each other about it?!? Luckily we are pretty good whisperers 😉. We walked into the chapel and the had maybe 30 other people there with us. It was completely silent and we were able to take it all in. We got to sit down on the benches and stare up at the beautiful ceiling painted by Michelangelo. We were able to walk around easily and look at each of the paintings along the walls. All in all, we spent about 25 minutes in the Sistine Chapel and we loved Every. Single. Minute. We followed the no picture rule, so here is an image from Google so you can picture it.

Image result for sistine chapel

Then Guido took us to walk around the rest of the Vatican Museum. We got to walk back through the places we had already gone through and talk about the art we had missed. We walked around looking at the various pieces of art for 4 hours and honestly could've kept going had it not been for the fact that we were nearing starvation. Art is a lot less fascinating when you're hungry, even when it is really impressive art.

Our first view of St. Peter's Basilica.

When we were nearing the end of our museum tour we began noticing how crowded the halls were getting. All of a sudden the Vatican Museum went from basically empty with just a few tour groups to feeling like Disney World on a summer day. I don't know how in the world anyone could've enjoyed themselves in the museum when it was that crowded, and we were SO GRATEFUL that we were able to enter before it opened to the public. 

As we were walking out of the museum and headed towards St. Peter's, we had to cross back through the Sistine Chapel as a cut through. The peaceful, quiet, serene Sistine Chapel from earlier now  had so many people in it you could hardly squeeze through to walk from one end to the other. You would not have been able to walk from picture to picture, you would not have been able to sit on the bench and stare up at Michelangelo's ceiling without being squished or having to sit on someone's lap. Again, so happy we got there when we did and got to spend some time basically alone in there. 

The famous Pieta statue.
The beautiful altar inside St. Peter's Basilica.

A Swiss Guard taking his job very seriously despite the dozens of people taking his picture. 

 This was the day before Easter so they were setting up for Easter Mass behind us with hundreds of chairs and beautiful floral displays.

 After our morning at the Vatican we stopped for lunch at a random little sidewalk cafe for pizza and pasta. I wish I remembered the name of this little cafe because it was delicious, the vino de la casa (house wine) had a great flavor and was super cheap, and my Cacio e Pepe pasta was INCREDIBLE. 

We continued to walk around and made our way to the Spanish Steps which were undergoing a renovation, but still beautiful. 

 We made it to the top and could see St. Peter's from the top. 

 We walked around a bit and then headed back to our hotel for a quick nap and to freshen up. Then Devin found a restaurant on TripAdvisor called Piccolo Buca and we headed there for dinner. It was AMAZING and our favorite meal from the entire trip. If you're going to Rome, you have to go there! One of the best parts, it was only a few blocks from the Trevi Fountain, so after dinner we made our way there to throw some coins in the fountain. Rumor has it if you toss coins from your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome one day. Here's hoping!! 

Thanks for following along with our trip to Italy! If you missed our other posts from this trip, you can find them here:

And if you're curious about how we are able to travel so much without breaking the bank, check out these posts here:

Our next Italy post is about Easter Sunday at the Vatican and a little more Rome. See you then!