Here is a little more information on the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel. There are three tours offered by the Vatican. They are 1) the museum and Sistine chapel. 2) Vatican gardens. 3) the vatican museums and St. Peters basilica.
The museum and Sistine chapel tour takes 2 hours and passes through the Pio Clementino, the geographical maps and tapestries galleries, the Raphael's rooms and the Sistine Chapel. The tour includes entrance fee and headset. This tour costs 30 euros and can be booked in advance at the vatican website. The garden tour last 2 hours and takes you on a tour of the small independant state. It cost 30.00 euros and can be reserved in advance at the vatican website. After the tour you may enter the vatican museums with no additional cost. The vatican museums and st. Peter's basilica tour costs 35 euros and lasts 3 hours. It, too, can be reserved at the vatican website.
The website is:biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?action=booking&codiceLivelloVisita=4&step=1
Make sure to take your confirmation email with you to the museums and you will be allowed to bypass the line. You must wear proper attire to enter the museums, gardens and basilica. For both men and women, shoulders and knees must be covered.
What hasn’t been said about the Sistine Chapel? Mountains of words have been written about this cavernous room with Michelangelo’s frescoes covering every inch of the ceiling. Every scene he painted from the Book of Genesis (from 1508 to 1512), every detail of his vision of the Last Judgment, has been scrutinized under a microscope. The guidebooks are overflowing with analysis of the ceiling panels, the walls, the lunettes and the altar wall. Since the cleaning work that began in the 1980s, art historians have devoted endless discussion to whether the bright new color scheme has restored the paintings to their former glory or ruined them. As someone who visited in the early 1970s, and again in 2008, I personally couldn’t see a difference, but who am I to say. Anyway, back then, on my honeymoon, maybe I wasn’t paying so much attention.
So here is a tip that will allow you to get a better view of these glorious paintings, which invariably leave visitors with a crick in their neck: When you enter the room, don’t do what everybody else does, which is stand still in your tracks and stare up in amazement. Move to the rear! What I realized, as my feet (and neck) began to ache and I tried to find a place to sit on the benches that line the room, is that people tend to congregate in the first part of the hall. But if you keep going, through the carved partition that divides the room, not only are you getting away from the crowds, but you get a much better view (the Last Judgment is on the wall opposite you). You won’t even have to squeeze in to find a spot on the bench.
Favorite thing: On my first trip to Rome, I chose not to climb my way up to the top of St. Peters Basilica, due to in no small part, the 1000 degree temperature of the city in the summer. However, thankfully, on my second go around in the Eternal City I did. What was at the end of the round and round walk up to the top? A magnificent view over Rome. Standing so far above all the madness of the city and its gangs of noisy Vespas, you can really soak in all of the city's majesty.
“Felicior Augusto, melior Traiano” (“More fortunate than Augustus and better than Trajan”)
— the Senate’s prayer for any new emperor during the fourth century
Give your postcards a prayer of a chance. It has been said that postcards mailed through the Vatican Post Office reach their destination faster than those mailed through Rome’s postal system. This may be Italian urban legend. It cannot hurt to make a test!
While visiting Vatican City look for the yellow post boxes; some can be found within the gift shop of the Vatican Museums.
The post box in the accompanying photo is located outside the main entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, on the left-hand side as you face the church; it, too, is outside a gift/book shop.
The view from the top is really spectacular. The climb, however, seemed endless. Be prepared to go all the way to the top, because there is no turning back!
Fondest memory: My lttle seven-month month old baby meets another baby at the top of St. Peter's. We'll remember, but will she? We have the pics to prove it.
This picture shows the bronze Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica. This door was opened by the Pope to begin the Jubilee Year 2000, on Christmas Eve, 1999. The door was closed on the day of the Epiphany, January 6, 2001.
A very kind nun in a Vatican gift shop gave us a leftover brochure from the Jubilee year. The listed events were useless to us (as we were there in 2002), but the maps, bus routes, and street list of Rome were helpful.
Favorite thing: I would definitely recommend seeing the Sistine Chapel, even you are not into art. It is breathtaking and you cannot imagine that one man did this. This picture shows the ceiling above the staircase just outside the chapel. Pictures are not permitted inside and when you enter you hear the guards loudly enforcing this rule. Michelangelo painted over 300 figures on the ceiling, and there are also micro-mosaics which look like curtains all around the walls, and paintings by Botticelli as well.
In the end of the summer head to the St.Peter's early in the morning - on a weekday preferably, oh yes and make sure the sun is shining.
Enter the church hall and walk down then main ship, then turn around and rest in contemplation.
The picture might give you a hint of what I mean. God's finger come down and reach for you - where else than here?
Fondest memory: Maybe the architect was a clever guy or maybe a woman? and had planned this scenario carefully or it just so happend that the sun would shine "miraculously" through the upper windows and create this nice effect.
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most spectacular things to view in Rome, especially if you've studied any of the paintings previously. If you have the time, definitely bare the line to get in, but don't bring your camera. The carbinieri are very strict about their "no foto" policy (and yes, using your zoom to get a better view is frowned upon also!)
But, the Sistine Chapel has LOUSY HOURS! You can only get in between 8:45-12:20 on Saturday. And, it is CLOSED SUNDAYS!
So, don't be like me and show up to the door at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon and expect to see the Chapel!
When you go to visit Vatican City be sure to go there early. We went at around 9:30 and didn't have to wait that long to get in. We went up the cathedral and when we came down there was a huge waiting line, it was around 11:00 then. We didn't go to the Vatican museum as there were people waiting there for hours and hours.
So go early then you can avoid hours waiting in line.
St Peter's Square would have to be among those sites that I would consider to be a must see, and I would definitely take them there given opportunity.
Fondest memory: So many memories, dreams, fantasies and photographic opportunities...........all are missed when I am not in Rome.
The Castel S Angelo definitely gets my vote for an important site to visit. Maybe it is that because it is so close to S. Peters that people might be either to anxious to get there, or too tired to continue having been there. So maybe the idea would be to set aside the day to really look at this monument.
Fondest memory: It is really hard to say what I miss most away from Rome because there is so much that I have enjoyed there and much that I would still like to see and do.
Although in Italy nearly 5 months in 1998, I didn't make it to St Peter';s Square and in 2001 I almost missed it again.......How come?
Well on the first occasion that I got to that part of Rome I was overtaken by an urge to visit Castel S Angelo...........which after all is just down the street. Well why didn't I go then......well it was because I spent so much time in the Castle that in order to catch the last bus in Formia, I needed to catch a specific train to connect.
Fondest memory: I was absolutely dumb founded at the first sight of S Peters and probably didn't do the area photographic justice, but anyway.................
Rome is a concentrate of art, history and culture.... so the number and variety of museums, galleries, palaces and exhibitions, is huge !!
I'll try to put more details about them in the "must see" section... if there is enough room for everything !!! hehe...
Favorite thing: The map gallery inside the Vatican Museum was really incredible! On display are old, huge maps, which are absolutely beautiful. I picked up reproductions of 16th century maps by Renaissance cartographer Ignazio Danti in the gift shop. I especially liked the Italy and Liguria maps.