“To change the world we must be good to those who cannot repay us.”
When planning our trip to Rome, a visit to the Vatican was high on our “must see” list. The question we had to answer was, is the Vatican Early Entrance tour worth it? In a simple answer, YES!
We booked the small group tour with LivItaly. We knew we would be guaranteed a maximum of 6 people. When there is a sight that we are highly interested in, we often will splurge on the semi-private or private tours in order to get more personalized experience.
*Tip* The Vatican was extremely crowded! I am not sure we would have been able to hear our tour guide had it not been for the 6 person group that allowed us to be close together as we made our way through the buildings. It was nice to not have to follow a lifted stick/flag/umbrella as we explored the Vatican within a massive group.
Due to the incredible amount of people, we felt the early entrance was valuable. While it was still way more people than we envisioned, we really appreciated the less crowded time we had before the general admission entrance time. The small luxury of a semi-private tour and early entrance was worth it.
Our guide recommended that we quickly walk through the Vatican Museums en-route to the Sistine Chapel. She promised us that we would spend more time admiring the contents following our Sistine Chapel visit.
It was sensory overload as we made our way through the halls of the museums. From floor to ceiling, there were intricate details to admire from colors to carvings.
*Tip* Please note that you are required to cover your shoulders/knees when entering the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica. However, because the Vatican museums are not air-conditioned, you are free to remove sweaters to be a bit more comfortable.
LivItaly’s recommendation to head to the Sistine Chapel was spot on. You are not allowed to take photos inside however trust us, it was breathtaking! The colors and images are so striking it makes the Vatican museum walls and ceiling seem dull! We could have spent hours in the Sistine Chapel admiring all the details, history, painting style and even people watching!
Following the visit, we circled through again only this time getting a personalized tour of the museums. Our personal favorite room, the map corridor! It was amazing to see the maps showcasing different areas and imagine how these were hand painted based on someone exploring and jotting down the details as they sailed the coasts rather than taking photos to document the journey as we are accustomed to today.
Each turn we took left us in awe at the grandeur of the contents. And the ceilings? We’ve never seen anything like it! We could have spent the day laying on our backs looking up at the magnificent ceilings throughout the museum rooms!
We then made our way outside to the gardens. We had seen this sphere with a sphere sculpture on Trinity College’s campus in Dublin, Ireland a few years ago. It was fun to see another one here in the Vatican Gardens!
Finally it was time to make our way into St. Peter’s Basilica. If we’re being honest, the crowds definitely took away from the sacred and holy experience for us. But none-the-less we couldn’t stop looking in the 360-degree direction to admire the gold details and intricate carvings.
The most interesting part of the tour was learning that the main altar is set right above St. Peter’s tomb. It is quite symbolic that St. Peter is credited with being the first pope of the church and still today mass is celebrated over him.
Overall there were parts of the Vatican that both exceeded our expectations and left us a bit disappointed. However, one thing is for sure choosing the Vatican Early Entrance Tour with LivItaly was the perfect way to experience it!
Have you visited the Vatican? What were your thoughts?