We were blessed with sunny skies. It was about 17ºC and there was promise that it was going to be a nice warm day, but I wasn't interested in the weather outside because we were going to spend most of our time, indoors, exploring the Vatican City.
After we managed to stay alive whilst walking past the guides that were selling fast track access to the Vatican Museum, we had a moment to admire St Peter’s Square and to improve on our selfie taking techniques.
We did have fast track access to the Vatican Museums via the Omnia Cards which we had purchased so at 11am we were taken to the museum entrance and it being a Monday it was as if I was walking on Oxford Street on Boxing Day. It was really busy, then I realized that most museums in Rome are closed on Monday so if you can, please avoid the Vatican Museums on a Monday because everyone else is there.
We explored most of the rooms in the museum and saw some amazing artwork. Each piece was a part of Roman history but it taught me a lot about its place in history. For example, there was a room filled with Egyptian relics and another with just tapestries, which were essentially maps of different parts of Italy. We also go to see Raphael’s Rooms that were filled with the most amazing paintings. Please get an audio guide when you go, there is only so much reading you can do but the audio guide does give you more details and you learn a whole lot more. I do regret not taking that. (It’s about €7)
From Raphael’s Rooms, you head over to the Sistine Chapel. Out of all the chapels and cathedrals that I have visited, this was by far the most artistic. All 4 walls were covered with Michelangelo’s paintings that are at least 5 centuries old. I think the fact that they don’t allow talking or taking pictures has kept them looking so fabulous for all this while. But I have since learnt that Michelangelo, despite the paintings being the most famous of them all, they made him write a poem to his friend Giovanni and in it he tells him “I am not a painter”. It made me realise that as much as he was an amazing artist, he was human and just like all humans when something becomes taxing, we don't enjoy it anymore. It’s worth a visit if you go there, in fact I would argue that it should be the only reason to go to the Vatican Museums. Well that and the double helix staircase called the Momo Staircase or the Bramante Staircase.
This is the most difficult staircase to find, because of where it is located. After almost bursting into tears, I thought it’s fair to share the location of this staircase so that many more travellers can see it and admire its beauty.
How to find the spiral staircase at the Vatican Museum
- From the Sistine Chapel, follow the exit signs to the Pio-Clementino -this will take you through the museum shop, keep following the signs
- When you get to the end of the shop, you’ll see the Pio-Clementino is up ahead to the right hand side, but on your left hand side, you’ll see an exit sign, you’ll notice that’s the same entrance group tours use
- Take that exit and follow the signs
- And voila, you should be at the top of the staircase.
After we finished the museums, it was time to head over to St Peter’s Basilica. We got our tickets with Omnia Card that gave us fast track access to the St Peter’s Basilica and I was grateful for that because there was no way we were going to make our flight and see the inside of the Basilica.
There is no cathedral that I have been to that I can compare it to. I walked inside and I was quiet, despite all the noise around, people shuffling I was mesmerized. My heart was still and all I could hear was the most angelic music. I thought the angels had come down just to worship God in this place. I wouldn’t be shocked. It was beautiful, I cried. I cried because it made me think of what the people at that time were thinking when they built the Basilica. Did they know that people would come and admire this centuries later (St Peter’s Basilica was finished in 1626). The detail in each curve, in each dome, in each pillar was amazing, and those angels that were singing, it was the people in the church worshiping God. Now that was magic.
We ended the trip with a trip to Old Bridge for some gelato. Make sure to pass there as you're on your way after visiting the Vatican Museum.
On that note, here are some #bluetrainertips on how to spend your time in Vatican
- Book tickets to the Vatican Museums ahead of time. Make sure to book skip the line too. You can book from here
- Research about the museums. They are set on 5.5 hectare land so there's a lot to cover and you won't be able to do it all in one day. I used the Lonely Planet guide that I had to see where to go to, but you can find some information from here as well.
- Use my tips from above to see the double helix staircase. Don't worry about bumping into people when you're going down, they'll be on the other helix.
- Take your time when exploring St Peter's Basilica. If you're anything like me, it'll be overwhelming, but take your time. And I pray that they are in service when you go there, you'll get to hear the beautiful sound I listened to.
- Make sure you go to the Old Bridge Gelateria. It's the best in Rome if you ask me.
So, that very much impromptu trip is actually my last for 2016.
Hope you all had a beautiful Christmas with your family and I'll see you in 2017
Till next time