Vatican City

Well, if you have to do it. Don’t get me wrong – Vatican City is well worth a visit – if you’ve never been there before.  St. Peter’s Basilica is magnificent. Michelangelo’s Pietà alone is is worth a look.  It’s such a shame you have to look at it through glass while surrounded by people jostling you to get closer.

HPIM2454
This is a good as it gets when going for a view of the Pietà.

This brings me to the crowds.  We waited in line about 45 minutes just to get into the Basilica.  The main sights like the Pietà and Sistine Chapel were too crowded to appreciate properly.

StPetersLine
Praying for the line to move at the Basilica.

 

After finally getting into the Basilica and ducking around the crowds to look around (the lower area where the popes are all buried is fairly interesting) we grabbed a mediocre lunch at a nearby café then walked over to the Vatican Museum to wait in line there.

In case you have the idea that you can walk in, see the Sistine Chapel and walk back out think again.  A visit to the Vatican Museum is a walk through a labyrinth of art work while following signs pointing to the Sistine Chapel.  Thankfully, there is a small café for a coffee break along the way.

MapRoom
The Map Room: I know the Sistine Chapel is ahead but don’t rush through this amazing room.

Finally, you’re there with hundreds of other people.

SistineChapel
A detail from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

It’s magnificent – of course it is.  That’s exactly why hundreds of people are standing in the chapel with you either looking up in wonder or taking a break on the benches within.

Finally we escaped the City and made our way back to Rome proper for dinner.  There are many reasons why Vatican City won’t be high on my list to visit if I’m lucky enough to return to Rome:

  • Crowds
  • Security line into Basilica
  • Pietà behind glass and difficult to look at
  • Mediocre restaurant options
  • Line into Vatican Museum
  • Crowds in the Sistine Chapel make it difficult to enjoy

Still, reality is if I’m with someone who has never seen it before I would not be able to tell them ‘no’.  Such magnificent art is worth a bit of inconvenience plus I’ll be spending A LOT more time in the map room.

Feed the blogger: Have you visited Vatican City?  What did you love?  What (if anything) do you wish was different?  Comments welcome.

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5 comments

  1. The crowds/wait times are determined by the time of year one chooses to visit.

    The vast history provide for the public to experience and that is being tirelessly preserved is priceless.

    Thankfully the hall of paintings and the sistine chapel are large enough to enjoy. There are a variety of types of tours one can select to meet desired experience.

    One can not possibly take it all in in one visit. I will and highly recommend visiting again and again – when in Rome! 😘

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    • Thanks for the comment. This was my second visit to Vatican City and I was startled at the crowded experience. Lots to see and do in Rome! I think a tour if I go again would be something to look into.

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  2. Great commentary – oh the bad, expensive food from the cafes near the Vatican! How I remember. I would say one of the things we enjoyed during one of our visits to the Vatican (we had to go with friends more than once) were the archives. They have entire rooms of art full of paintings and sculpture acquired by Popes and that were given to the Church or commissioned by the Church over the centuries. Unbelievable. The Sistine Chapel and the Map room (!!!) are fantastic but there is so much more. I’m with you, though – you have to go early midweek, like a Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s still hell. LOL.

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    • I’m glad I’m not being a bee about the nearby eateries and crowds. I was there the first time back when I was a student and it wasn’t as crowded even though we were there Easter weekend. This last visit was such a different experience I felt compelled to mention it despite the fact that all that art remains amazing.

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