Sunday – a holy day so we spend it in a truly festive way – at the Vatican! The apostolic capital is a destination not only for pilgrims.
Tourists from all over the world flock to Vatican City to see some of the largest (if not the largest) collections housed in the Vatican Museums and to see the famous Basilica. And you don’t have to be Catholic for this place to provide many spiritual experiences :)
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Vatican Museum for free?
Once we had our airline tickets purchased and began planning our entire stay in earnest, it turned out that we would be able to take advantage of free admission to the Vatican Museums. Every last Sunday of the month (except holidays), arriving in the vicinity of St. Peter’s Square. At St. Peter’s you can see a long line of tourists politely and humbly waiting to enter the museums. It is on these days, you can enter completely free of charge and spend almost the whole day looking at exhibits collected throughout the centuries by the Church.
The very sight of the queue, some 1.5 – 2 km long, does not fill you with optimism, but it is worth the character! Any head coverings and an ample supply of mineral water will prove essential.
But let’s start our coverage of the day from the very beginning. Our apartment was about a 40-minute walk from the Vatican, so we decided to take a walk to get a feel for the city on occasion. Just below our block, in the square next to Via Portuense street , there is a market every Sunday, where you can buy almost everything: starting from food and chemicals, ending with original fake Louis Vuitton bags :) There is something for everyone.
We, due to lack of time, only skimmed through a piece and then headed straight for the Vatican. On the way, the weather quickly improved (it wasn’t very optimistic first thing in the morning) and, reaching the Vatican, we regretted having worn long pants and sneakers….
On the way we “absorbed” the city and on the one hand we were delighted by its beauty and on the other hand we were horrified by the downright “mess” that prevailed there….
In the tail of the aforementioned queue, we checked in around. hr. 9am. Within moments, guides appeared around us, offering guided tours of the museums for some 15-20 euros and bypassing the queue.
We spent about 1.5-2 hours in line (don’t be fooled by guides who will tell you that you’re in for 3 or even 4 hours of standing!). Once we were able to enter the museums we went through inspection and had to leave our larger backpacks at the depository (free, of course).
Tour of the Vatican Museums.
Yes, museums, not a single museum. Officially, it is a complex of museums, but here for the purpose of this post by museum we mean the entire complex.
You need to spend several hours on the tour itself. Several, I mean here seriously SOME whopping hours by big K. Literally just walking around without any sightseeing takes approx. 1 hr. It’s worth getting your own good guidebook, as some exhibits can simply be missed.
Some of the biggest attractions include: Cones Courtyard (a huge courtyard with a [jak sie nie trudno domyślec] a huge bronze cone that was a fountain), a corridor in the Chiaramonti Museum where you will find a lot of statues, busts, etc., the Hall of Animals, the Rotunda Hall (dome and mosaic), sarcophagi and mummies, and many other famous statues, sculptures, paintings, etc., which cannot even be mentioned all.
However, the most impressive is the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s giant work of art is the culminating room during a tour of the museum. This is where the biggest congestion forms :) It is forbidden to take photos in the Chapel, of which you will be reminded every now and then by security guards (as it turned out, even nuns do not comply…).
At the end of the story about the museum, a few more photos from inside the museum:
An additional curiosity, one from the field of globalization or multiculturalism, can be the following example: An Indian woman, visiting the capital of the Catholic Church, takes pictures with a Korean phone ;)
Italian food and for dessert Ice Cream!!!
After leaving the museum, we decided to eat something. Nearby we found a pizzeria with a true Italian character: busy cook, chaos, tables barely mixing on the sidewalk, lots of locals inside, etc :) . It had its own atmosphere. Without delving into the significance of the various ingredients, we chose some pizza for company. What was Kamila’s surprise when I brought a pizza with chips ;) it was a little too crispy, but it is worth trying such a different pizza.
Then it was time for dessert – real Italian Gelato. As we prepared decently for the trip, we had with us a map of recommended ice cream shops. One of them was right by the walls of the Vatican. How to find it? Look for a long line. Ice cream delicious! Until they deserved a separate post :) In general, Italian ice cream is a phenomenon for us…. but we will write about it another time :)
Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square. Peter
After this feast for the palate, we continued our tour of the Vatican. We headed to St. Peter’s Square to stand in the next line – this time to St. Peter‘s Basilica. Peter. Here the queue was shorter and went much faster. The Basilica itself knocks you out with its size. It’s worth taking some time and looking at the exhibits gathered there (especially the famous Pieta). It’s also worth looking up from time to time to see the huge, ornate domes. In the middle of the Chapel is the exit to the Vatican Grottoes. Unfortunately, John Paul’s tomb was not there (it is supposedly in the Basilica, but we did not locate it there either).
After leaving the Grottoes and Basilica, we went to the square to take some photos and headed towards the Castle of Saint Angelo. It is said to be where the secret passage from the Vatican is located. We have not been able to locate this one either (or maybe because it is secret?). Bridges richly decorated with figures lead to the castle. The surroundings themselves are equally beautiful. From here you can see the Basilica of St. Peter. The St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Tiber River and the bridges crossing it every dozen meters or so….
And that was the last highlight of the day. With our last strength we returned to the apartment, partly along the Tiber. Along the way, we stepped off to the side a bit and ended up on more typical cobblestone streets, where there were plenty of restaurants and stores. We decided that we have to come back here for lunch sometime :)
Did we return…?
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See also Rome – Day 3: Eternal City i.e. Colosseum, Roman Forum