|My son and his girl have been traveling a bit lately.|
They are going to share 3 of their travel posts on the blog (hurrah, I'm so happy to have them here!).
The 1st of 3: The Roman Guy, Skip the Line with the "Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour"
There is going to be a slight change of perspective and writing style in this post, assuredly a tad different than what you are accustomed to with my mother's writing *dramatic pause* and not just mine. Today, there are two different perspectives and experiences of the same event. Kiera, my girlfriend, will share her thoughts and experience of the Tour of the Vatican, kindly and enjoyably lead by The Roman Guy as well as I will share mine.
To start, I’ll say I am definitely a little less cultured in comparison to Kiera, especially in regards to Catholicism. She has a strong background in faith, due to graduating from a Christian university, has a deep rooted understanding of the stories behind each painting, from growing up with a former pastor for a father and on top of that has a far greater allure towards museums, art and the antiquities of the past. I feel it's important as a reader to know this because it very adequately highlights the two very different and very enjoyable standpoints of our tour from a naive and an educated perspective. To me, as much exquisite history is to be expected to come across on the Vatican tour, I was half expecting to be left feeling gauche under the shadow of her knowledge. To me I thought, before walking through the doors, that the whole experience was going to be a little lackluster; that without knowing the narrative and development behind that Vatican I would be saying sarcastically in my mind, "Ohh look an old pillar," or "Oh wow, another sculpture." I was pleasantly and immediately proven to be wrong, from the moment you pass through the doors you can not help but be floored by the grandeur, the opulence and the pure magnificence that is presented to you from start to finish.
|Flag above sea of people.|
The Tour kicks off meeting your group at 7:30 in the morning: for me this was no issue because I am a morning person. Kiera painstakingly so is not. I had to practically drag her out of bed and still we barley made it on time. Once you arrive, you will see a little red flag floating above the sea of a people waiting in line *which by the way was a HUGE perk of this tour, you get to skip, woo whoo!* Across the street is a little cafe where you can grab a coffee, croissant or other pastry to hold you over. I recommend to make it back to your group with haste if you do, because your tour guide has a book that they use to cover a fair amount of history about the Vatican and a little Q&A before you actually enter and go through security. Be sure to finish any food beforehand otherwise you will be reluctantly forced to throw it out.
Once you get through check-in with security you and your group will be handed a headset and a little receiver that goes around your neck so you can hear perfectly everything your very informed guide explains along the way. For me I found the receiver to also be a very useful homing beacon to re-find my group when my curiosities repeatedly had me left behind (there is a limited distance the radio travels so you will hear the voice in your ear turn to static if you linger too, long and back to a voice once more when you are closing in on the heels of your guide again). Of course during the tour, which I initially felt was rushed (I later discovered that it is purposely fast-paced so you can arrive at the Sistine Chapel before the majority of crowds) I let my rebellious desire to go at my own pace win during the tour ,which lead to me hearing more static in my ear than the history of each room. Let that be a lesson and recommendation to fight the desire to drift from your group if you feel you are cruising through each room too fast, because you will have an opportunity to explore on your own and re-visit any rooms or relics that piqued your interest along the way. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
After security this is when the tour begins. You make your way up the first of many flights of stairs you will be going up. Most are marble, so stay close to a handrail in case your footing slips. I'm not going to break down each room you will go through because the word count would be astronomical. However, I will say each room, or hall rather, is in its own respect remarkable. Some corridors are littered with relics, others decorated with chests made of the finest and rarest materials, secured behind glass cases are Bibles decorated with rubies, silver, ivory and other inimitable jewels (see picture above). Other rooms are draped in tapestries that took years to stitch together. They are lined with silver that depicts biblical stories, and some rooms are plastered in Renaissance paintings on the walls and ceilings, done by Raphael that you think would rival the Sistine Chapel. That is until you finally venture inside and it becomes very clear why the pope commissioned Michelangelo to cease his true passion of sculpting and instead embark on his 4-year masterpiece which would become a staple in history that would lead to now more than 5 million visitors each year to gaze in awe at his work; albeit some of his work was covered up and defaced by future popes finding his detail of the human body to be too crass.
Once in the Sistine Chapel you are not allowed to talk, take pictures or touch anything. Of course there still is a light chatter that echoes through the hall, and with modern technology you can see people snapping pictures with their smart watches or their phones hidden under jackets, bags and my personal favorite one kid had torn a hole in his tour map to have only the camera portion of his phone peeking out while snapping photos; he must of been a big fan of the old Bond films. There is security walking around to prevent such things but ironically enough throughout your tour with the Roman Guy you will notice more guards on their own phones rather than actually guarding so as long as you don’t comically leave your flash on while sneaking pictures, which some did, you can snap a few quick pictures if you feel the need to rebel.
After gawking at Michelangelo’s craftsmanship you have a few more rooms to pass through, get lead through an outside courtyard with Egyptian artifacts, some interactive art, another cafe under a pavilion, to grab a bite to eat to cure any appetite you developed stampeding up and down marble stairs, and finally you are lead to St. Peter's Basilica which for me was my favorite part of the tour. I have an absence of words to properly describe the marvels and grandeur awaiting you once you breach the front door. The breath-taking sculptures carved into every square inch of the building that cascade around you. I was left dumbfounded by how impossibly beautiful everything was, trying to consider how staggering of a task it had to have been and what an unfathomable imagination it must have taken to construct such magnificence.
|Crowd you get to skip!|
Your guide once more will take you from corner to corner giving you a history lesson on each piece, answering any questions. there is an option to partake in a service if you so desire and now you are on the cusp of your tour ending. Soon you will be handing your headset back, be brought outside to venture back in to Rome, where you will be spending the rest of your day reminiscing on how enjoyable your tour was, and when everything is over and you head back past your starting point, you will see some of the same faces you saw at 7:30 a.m. still waiting in line and that's when booking with the Roman guy gets solidified as a very good investment.
Alas, as promised earlier, there are going to be two perspectives: mine and Kiera's *slides keyboard over *
Yes, my turn! to tell it from my perspective. With that being said, I did grow up with a religious background as well as have an art minor from my christian university so I have been studying the art in the Vatican for a long time. I knew all the stories the art was about and about the artists who did the work. This made the experience for me slightly different than it was for Josh, but even more entertaining for me. This also was not my first tour of the Vatican.
I had come to Italy three years before with my family to celebrate my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. My Nana’s family was originally from Italy so she decided she wanted to celebrate in Italy. My Nana, her mother and my mother have always had a love for art and have raised me to have such an appreciation for it. When I was younger my Nana would have my sister and I over and we would paint for hours together. This instilled an interest from a young age. I loved learning the different styles painters would use as well the history behind their lives. Naturally, when we traveled to Italy together my grandmother arranged a tour of the Vatican for us all. The two tours were night and day different though. When I went with my family three years ago it was the middle of August and the middle of the day. This was peak tourist season so it was extremely crowded. Each tour guide has their own style and focus. My previous tour guide was very involved in the Catholic Church, so he focused more on the religious portion of the Vatican experience. He told the facts about the Popes, Saints and origins of the church. We also did not have the probably best perk of this tour and that's to go in before the crowds, like you get to with The Roman Guy tour, so we were in the heat of the day in long pants and sleeves because of the dress code so it was extremely hot.
This tour was far more enjoyable for me (minus the having to wake up early part). The instructions were very clear where to meet, which is rare in Rome. We got to the tour a few minutes late (yes, because of me) and they were very accommodating. They had a person with a sign waiting for us at the meeting spot and they then took us to the rest of the group who got there on time waiting in line. We were one of the first groups into the Vatican which was great. Our tour guide was a quirky, art loving Italian man who decided to take us first to the Sistine Chapel before the other groups got in there. The Sistine Chapel, for those of you who don’t know, is a chapel painted by Michelangelo, commissioned by Pope Julius II. Its most iconic panel is the creation of Adam, where you see Adam reaching his hand out to touch the hand of God. I had been in the Sistine Chapel before, but no matter how many times you go you cannot help but to just get lost in the beauty of the artwork and unique telling of the biblical stories. We then went back and viewed the rest of the Vatican from there.
My absolute favorite part of the tour was when we went to see the work done by Raphael, an Italian Renaissance artist who focused on the lighting of his painting. This is the home to one of my favorite pieces by him, The School of Athens. This piece portrays Plato and Aristotle side by side in the school of Athens discussing their perspectives of philosophy. The balance and detail of this painting were breath taking. The cool part for me is I had been in Athens the week before and was able to visit the school of Athens in the Parthenon and discuss the philosophers there. Seeing it all come together was simply breath taking. I could have stayed in this room all day. My group was leaving though, but my art loving tour guide showed me where some of my other favorite artist had donated works as well. He showed me two paintings by Salvador Dali.
By the time we were finished with the tour we were exhausted from covering a lot of ground in a short amount time. Luckily, it was still before noon so we had time to get lunch and rest a little bit before exploring the rest of Rome. It was a beautiful tour and I highly recommend going before the doors open to the rest of the public (privileged entrance tour).
I will definitely get in on this the next time we're in Rome. We did it the old-fashioned way last time, and the lines were TERRIBLE.ReplyDelete
Now that's the way to do it! The lines at these ancient architectural spots are incredibly long. Actually, the lines to see anything are sooooo long.ReplyDelete
The Vatican is one of the most beautiful indoor places on earth. It's great that you took something away from your experience.ReplyDelete
I like your tips on taking a tour of the Vatican. It seems to be a no-brainer to get a guide, to avoid the mass amount of people!ReplyDelete
OMG, that line scares me. I'd skip that all together. Thanks for the tips.ReplyDelete
Hi Rosey - good to meet Josh and Kiera ... with their really interesting perspectives on the Vatican tour - I've never done it ... and now most definitely want to. I will take the early morning tour too. You've given us some fascinating information with some lovely pictures highlighting the arr and treasures - thanks so much - great guest posters!! Cheers HilaryReplyDelete
How lovely to get the value-added tour, courtesy of your girlfriend!ReplyDelete
Oh I would love to visit the Vatican! It is on my bucket list. Love the tips and pics!ReplyDelete
Getting to avoid the line would be a win for me. haha turn flash off and no one is the wiser, easy peasy. Guides are usually the way to go, as they are more informed. Great way to do it from different perspectives.ReplyDelete
Always interesting to get different perspectives. Thank you Rosey, and welcome and thanks to Josh and Keira too.ReplyDelete
Amazing! Visiting the Sistine Chapel is on my bucket list! I look forward to doing it right via this outstanding tour.ReplyDelete
If there's one thing I hate is lines and tourist attractions always seem to have the longest lines ever. LOL. Visiitng the Vatican is on my bucket list, can't wait to get there :)ReplyDelete
Wow what a great experience! My parents are going to Italy in the fall, I will share this!ReplyDelete
Rome will always be one of my most favorite cities and it would be nice if you can make the most out of your time there! Not having to wait in line is definitely a must when you have the option and I think this tour is perfect for that!ReplyDelete
Wow this is interesting. I always enjoy hearing different perspectives and this for sure is great. - jeanineReplyDelete
The photos from your tour are amazing! What a great time in Italy.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful place to visit but than line, yikes!ReplyDelete
Touring The Vatican is high on my travel bucket list. This tour sounds really informative (as was the post, thanks to your special guest posters today!) I'll be sure to book with The Roman Guy so we can skip the lines when we finally do get to visit.ReplyDelete
I've never been to the Vatican but I would love to see The Sistine Chapel. It's good to know there is a tour option that can help you avoid the very long lines.ReplyDelete
Awesome tips! I wish I could visit with my family!!!ReplyDelete
this is great travel advice for when we go, thanks for the tipsReplyDelete
Your photos are so stunning! What an awesome adventure, I'd love to go to Rome one day!ReplyDelete
This looks like a really fun and interesting tour. You got some amazing photos!ReplyDelete
Some day I hope to be able to see it myself! I wouldn't have known about this tour offering, so I'm thrilled to know I can skip the line. We typically travel with kids so it'll take some coaxing to get them up early.ReplyDelete
I think going in the morning for the tour was great. I hope one day I can go to Rome and enjoy some of the history like you both did!ReplyDelete
WOW it is fun to listen to how 2 different people see or think about something you did together This is on my dream list to do.ReplyDelete
I'd love to visit there, and I'm not super religious. Although I do feel that pull to be a good person, pass on positiveness in the world, and prayer is like meditation - so it's wonderful. I love the Pope right now. He seems like he's right on with a lot of issues going on in the world.ReplyDelete
Such pretty pictures! Artistically everything looks wonderful!
I’ve aleays wanted to visit the Vatican! I love you’re picturesReplyDelete
Rome is for sure on our list of places and this is so helpful! I cant wait to visit!ReplyDelete
That is one long line. I too would love skipping the line to see this beautiful place.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness what a post! I am loving all the ideas on helping skip those queues, but I have to admit I am adoring the photos - what some sights to see!ReplyDelete
Dang. That is a large crowd!!! Thanks for sharing this. I've always wanted to know about these kinds of tours before I book one!ReplyDelete
What an amazing experience! I'd love to go one day!ReplyDelete
Awww, your son and his girlfriend look so cute together! Also looks like they really enjoyed themselves!ReplyDelete
What an amazing place to visit. That is too funny that the security guards are on their phones instead of doing security!ReplyDelete
This sounds like a great way to explore Rome! I would love to go there someday and if I do, I will definitely look into this!ReplyDelete
I've never been to Rome and it is on my travel bucket list. As beautiful as I've heard it is there's zero chance I'd stand on that line, I'd have to look into using the Roman guy.ReplyDelete
That is awesome...ReplyDelete
I went once... and loved it.. thanks for letting me travel back again :)
I could only remember the different art works mentioned in my Humanities subject in college. I wish I could have the chance someday to visit the Vatican and see the real thing.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great tips! I would love to see all of the works of Raphael - what an amazing experience!ReplyDelete
The Roman Guy is our go-to choice too, when it comes to getting to see places in Rome and other parts of Italy. I am glad you were able to experience their services. The museum is awesome, wasn't it?ReplyDelete
I didn't get to see some of the places you've visited in Rome. But at least you were able to skip the lines, seeing the much people..good for you!ReplyDelete
I would love to visit the Vatican! I love historical architecture and paintings!ReplyDelete
I loved the Vatican and Rome but found that being on a guided tour was the way to go. Waiting in lines to start your day is not only a waste of time but makes me impatient. There is so much to see in the Vatican and in Vatican City, so having someone who knows where to go will insure you see everything important!ReplyDelete
It sounds as if you had a good time, and the pictures are really interesting.ReplyDelete
Sounds like an amazing trip to the Vatican that’s very much worth it. I’ve never been to the Vatican and this post makes me want to go there now. I’d love to try all the good food!ReplyDelete
Vatican City is on our short list of places to visit (someday). We're a Catholic family, and it is a must-do!ReplyDelete
Sounds like you had a great time during the tour. I'd love to visit there someday, that would be a great experience.ReplyDelete
This is a great post, what a brilliant idea to give tourists some tips on avoiding queues. Vatican City looks like an amazing place to visit I bet you had a great time.ReplyDelete
Why are lines so incredibly long? I would definitely get a tour guide just because it's unfamiliar territory.. but I would feel bad that all those people had to stand in line so long..ReplyDelete
This is great to experience! Just need to endure long walks and line and the whole tour sounds amazing!ReplyDelete
What a fun trip. It looks like you had a great time. Such beautiful photos...I definitely want to visit!ReplyDelete
What a wonderful post! These picture depict this place in an amazing way. I'd love to visit. Thanks for sharing! :)ReplyDelete
I visited the Vatican years ago and it was quite an amazing experience. If you are visiting Rome, this is a must-see attraction!ReplyDelete
Those lines are insane!!! This is one of my biggest fears with traveling to popular spots. My anxiety does not handle crowds. Looks like an amazing place....wonder if they have an "off" season.ReplyDelete
Amazing! I would love to visit Vatican! We're planning to travel this year, I hope we could visit this attractions when we got there!ReplyDelete
Vatican is one of the most charming place to visit! I'm italian and went there many times, love ancient hystorical places like this!ReplyDelete
Oh wow, this looks like such a wonderful attraction to check out with the kids. They love historical places.ReplyDelete
It's a dream of mine to visit Vatican! I'm planning a trip to Europe for next year and I hope to visit a ton of a places!ReplyDelete
My wifes bucket list contains Vatican city, one day we will make it there we would need this information to glide us through the places. thanksReplyDelete
What an incredible place to visit. I would love to go there one day! Thanks for all of this useful information.ReplyDelete
Great to know! I visited Italy long time ago and I was part of a private tour so we got into places pretty fast. I'm planning a trip with my family and we need to find ways to make this easier for the kids.ReplyDelete
Loved our visit to Rome! Thanks for bringing back great memories.ReplyDelete
Beautiful pictures! I’d love to visit one day. It’s on my bucket list!!ReplyDelete
Absolutely beautiful pictures and family. I would also love to visit here!ReplyDelete