We got to the Vatican by bus and when we arrived there were so many people, you would have thought it was still peak travel season in any other place.
As we approached the Vatican we got stopped by a charming young woman speaking to us in perfect English. Long story short, she convinced us to pay for the tour through the Vatican museum, we skipped the lines to get into the Vatican and St. Peter’s and we got a guided tour through the museum.
I’m still a little surprised that we actually got suckered in to the guided tour, but all-in-all it was kind of nice because we got to have a few of the pieces of art explained and get through it all without being overwhelmed by all of the history.
We took this picture while waiting for the tour to begin. Really, this is a picture of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican is just built all around the church, I’m not really sure where the one ends and the government buildings begin. Definitely no separation of church and state here… (ha ha)
While on the tour we eventually got to go through a hallway full of ancient maps, they were tapestries the size of walls. I love maps and especially ancient ones, so I just loved seeing the rendering of the world back then.
We finished the tour of the Vatican with a trip through the Sistine Chapel.
I couldn’t take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel because it’s not allowed, technically it is still an operating church and you aren’t even supposed to wear hats or talk inside the building. I’m just grateful that they let us walk in there and see the magnificent art on the walls and the ceiling. Click on the image above and visit the Vatican Museum site to learn more about the chapel.
Did you know that Michelangelo painted the entire ceiling on scaffolding, standing up? (Talk about a crick in the neck!) It was long debated whether or not he had been laying on his back while painting or standing up and apparently they found a sketch somewhere that shows him standing up while painting it.
Also, the Sistine Chapel wasn’t open to the public for the first 200 years it was around. It was the pope’s private chapel! I’m so glad that we can all enjoy the beauty now.
It was interesting to note that this is where the Conclave happens too, where they elect the new pope. The chimney with the smoke that notifies the crowd waiting outside in the square isn’t there all the time, they just bring it in for Conclave.
Stay tuned for my post about St. Peter’s Basilica! Next Italy Trip Post