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Strolling Through Rome: A Walking Tour of the Vatican

Vatican, Rome, St. Peter's Basilica

According to Roman insiders, the best way to see the Vatican is through a guided walking tour. If you’re interested in history and art, a professional tour guide will be able to walk you through the highlights of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, among other attractions. These tours take up about three to four hours altogether.

A professional tour guide will also be able to provide more attentive service and bring you around to certain sections of the Museums that are not typically offered in a standard itinerary. For instance, a walk around the Pinacoteca Vaticana art gallery is just one of these value-added services. Guides are also authorized to take guests from the Sistine Chapel directly into St. Peter’s Basilica, an option which is not made available to individual tourists.

The Vatican Museums are a must-see for guests: there are several different sections available for viewing, and those typically included on a guided tour are the Pio-Clementino (the classic antiquities section), Gregorian Etruscan and Egyptian museums, the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps and the Gallery of Tapestries, and finally St. Peter’s Basilica.

The magnificent Sistine Chapel, a must-see for sightseeing

The Pinacoteca Vaticana is home to paintings by Giotto, Beato Angelico, Melozzo da Forli, and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. In it you will also find Raphael’s “Transfiguration”, which is lauded by many as the “most famous, most beautiful and most divine” of his finished works. Another section that is frequently passed over is the Carriage Pavilion, established by Pope Paul VI in 1967. It houses portraits of all the popes that have served from 1500 to the present time, as well as all papal ceremonial materials, and the arms and uniforms of the Pontifical Armed Corps, Vatican City’s military guard.

Keep in mind that the Vatican itself is very crowded throughout almost the entire year. The best times to visit the city are during January and February or near the end of November and early December when the surroundings are noticeable quieter. Mornings are busy, and the activity doesn’t simmer down until midday. As the Sistine Chapel closes early, it is imperative that you begin your Vatican Museums tour before 3 PM before the doors close. Both places are closed on Sundays, and Mondays are typically the busiest times to visit. If you prefer a more laid back walk, try to avoid that day.

St. Peter's Basilica 2One must also take into consideration the days in which large events take place, such as the general audience with the pope that typically occurs on Wednesdays. This is done either at the Audience Hall during the wintertime, or St. Peter’s Square. It is possible to obtain a free ticket for audiences held in the Hall – this will give you a better chance of grabbing a seat. At noon on Sundays, the pope usually gives his blessing from the window of his office above St. Peter’s Square; this is called the Sunday blessing. Finally, if you are coming to the Vatican specifically for a glimpse of the pope, you can request tickets from the Prefettura Vaticana in order to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, facilitated by the pontiff himself. Keep in mind that these tickets need to be procured well ahead of time.

Tour Italy Now offers great tours around Rome and the surrounding area. There’s no need to struggle with finding a reliable tour operator service that can cater to your needs, so visit our customized tours page and get a quote from us now.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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One Comment

  1. Judy Williams
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    Very interesting article and gave me some great suggestions.

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