The first time Luke visited Rome, he was unable to make it to Vatican City. He was told that it would take a whole day which he did not have time for. So, we dedicated one of our 3.5 days in Rome to the tiny country.
For those of you unaware, Vatican City is its own country. It is a tiny little area in Rome... if you Google Maps search Rome and start zooming in, you will see a little area to the west side of the river outlined in grey. That is Vatican City, the least liked country in Europe.... according to a poll... its a funny poll... you should take a look. Anyway, prior to leaving London, I bought us tickets in advance to enter the Vatican Museum. Again, I had done quite a bit of research and all signs pointed to "yes, visit the museum".
BOOM! BALL. DROPPED.
It was not worth it.
In my opinion, of course.
But this is also coming from the person who chose not to go into The Louvre to see da Vinci's Mona Lisa, and also chose not to go into Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo's David. I am not an art person, and I especially am not a fan of being pushed and shoved into an extremely crowded room where I can't even enjoy what I am supposed to be looking at. The whole experience reminded me of my visit to the Palace of Versailles, except more expensive. Well, I will be fair, the experience wasn't really really crowded until the important part - the Sistine Chapel. Aside from the museum being a waste of money (again, in my opinion), I enjoyed everything else we did in Vatican City.
If you are not dressed appropriately upon entering the museum, you will be told that later on in the museum you will need to cover up. By dressed appropriately, I mean no short shorts and no bare shoulders for women. I saw plenty of women with skirts that were just barely above the knee and that was not a problem. To be safe, bring a scarf. For guys, shorts were not a problem, but I assume short shorts are not okay
If you had a better experience, please please please share it with me! I would love to know that someone enjoyed their visit to the Vatican Museum.
After a frustrating 1.5 hours in the museum and seeing the Sistine Chapel, we needed a break, so we ate our sandwiches on the ground of a hallway. Don't worry, it was the hallway by the cafeteria not one of them with art. Then we began our search for how to get to St. Peter's Basilica. My research told me that we would be able to "skip the line" into the church from the museum. In the process, we found a small museum with a bunch of massive carriages. The wheels were taller than me! Crazy!
BLOP!! BALL. DROPPED. AGAIN!!
Things just weren't going the way the googletrons said they would. Argh! Our irritation went even higher when we found out we had to leave Vatican City and walk back around the wall almost to the very east entrance. It was hot and we were trying to stay in as much shade as possible... after making this map below, I discovered this was an extra 0.5mi of walking.
I had already made up my mind that I wanted to go to the top of the Cupola. It was 7 euros to take the elevator to the first floor and walk the rest of the way up, or 5 euro to take the stairs the whole way (meaning 551 steps). Amazingly, we chose to fork over the extra 2 euro to be lazy :-) Luckily, I did not need to be "appropriately dressed" for the climb or else I would have been really hot! The elevator took us to the roof of the church where we would then start the climb on the stairs.
I promise, in this next picture, that I am standing straight up and down. The walls were that tilted!
We were pretty much done with Vatican City after about 4 hours. But we couldn't leave without taking a few pictures of the Vatican guards.
How would I do this better?
I would pass on visiting the Vatican Museum. If I was to do the museum again though, I would visit the basilica first, climb the cupola second, and visit the museum later in the day with hopes that it would be less crowded and go straight to the Sistine Chapel to make sure you see it before closing time, then wander through the other areas.
If you have visited, what was your experience of the Vatican Museum like?
Other posts on Rome: Tips & Tricks, General Itinerary, Roman Ruins
The Statue of Liberty can fit inside St. Peter's Basilica under the dome. Wow!