During our stay in Rome we made sure to set aside a day for exploring the Vatican and had booked some exciting tours for our time in the papal city. After a long but scenic walk towards the Vatican from our hotel near the Colosseum we started our day off with a fascinating tour of the necropolis and St Peter’s tomb, which can only be arranged through the Excavations Office website and limits visitors to only 250 a day in an effort to help preserve the old ruins. I highly recommend signing up for this tour during your stay at the Vatican and be sure to do so in advance to ensure there is availability on your chosen date. It really is a unique and must do experience!
The bones that are believed to be those of St Peter are kept in a hermetically sealed plastic box provided by the U.S. Army directly underneath the altar of St Peter’s Basilica. The unique experience was definitely a highlight of our day! I only wish that cameras had been allowed so that I could share the visual experience with all of you. After exploring the lowest depths of the Vatican we climbed our way to the highest point up 551 stairs to the top of the Basilica. What a view!
After a quick and overpriced lunch near the Basilica, we joined up with Marco from What a Life! tours to visit the Vatican Museums and the famed Sistine Chapel. The sheer size of the collection was astounding! The hall of maps was exquisite and a personal favorite of mine.
Fortunately, we had good timing with thin crowds at the Sistine Chapel and were able to take our time and fully admire Michelangelo’s work; however, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the beautiful floor mosaics as they are likely the most unnoticed and underappreciated work of art given everyone’s necks are craned upwards toward the ceiling! Unfortunately, no cameras allowed as it is still considered a sacred, holy space despite the throngs of sightseers so no pictures to share. You’ll just have to go see it in person for yourself!
The rich decor and ornate wealth of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums is indescribable. Each room seemed to be more sumptuous than the last. We had an amazing time exploring the world’s smallest country and getting to see what is considered one of the holiest sites of the Christian world from its very depths to its heights.