Skip the Lines: Visiting Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s

Skip the Lines: Visiting Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's

Skip the Lines: Visiting Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s

Skip the Lines: Visiting Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s

WJ Tested: Insight Vacations Italian Escapade 12-Night Motor Coach Tour – Day 3: Included Tour of The Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica with Local Guide

What better way to skip the line for visiting the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica than on an Insight Vacations tour! Thanks to their fast-track entry our VIP visit to these sites saved us hours of just hanging around waiting with the crowds.

Our day in Rome started with an early reservation at the Vatican Museums where we met local guide and expert, Susanna, outside the main entrance at 7:45 am. The Insight Vacations VIP reservation for this included excursion meant we skipped the already long line of ticket holders (even though you have a reservation doesn’t mean you don’t line up) and walked right in.

Vatican Museums Courtyard Sphere

Vatican Museums Courtyard Sphere

Upon entering the building we had to go through security (similar to airports except we could keep our shoes on) and for the next two hours were completely engrossed by the fascinating history of what we saw. On the way to the Vatican we had been advised by our Tour Director Mark to leave any large bags on the coach, which was good advice (otherwise we would have needed to leave them at the security desk for the duration of our visit). Our entrance fee also included use of a special audio set for the duration of this tour; we could easily listen to Susanna’s commentary while within the museums.

Visiting the Vatican Museums with Insight Vacations

Visiting the Vatican Museums with Insight Vacations

It is definitely possible to spend an entire day visiting these sites, but as our time was limited, Susanna concentrated on the most important sculptures, galleries, frescoes and pieces of artwork. Starting in the Vatican Museum Courtyard we viewed the  “Sphere Within a Sphere” (Sfere Con Sfera), created in 1990 by Italian sculptor Arnoldo Pomodoro. Next Susanna guided us through the Pio-Clementino Museum (Greek and Roman antiquities), Gallery of the Candelabras, the Maps Room, Tapestry Gallery (Renaissance Art) and Raphael Rooms.

Vatican Museum VIP Visit

Vatican Museum VIP Visit

As part of our exclusive access with the Insight Vacations VIP tour we were also able to walk up the original 16th century Scala Del Bramante (Bramante Staircase) – which is generally closed to the public.

Bramante Staircase

Bramante Staircase

Tip: Photos are permitted in the Vatican Museums, but upon entering the Sistine Chapel the security guards take the “No Photos” policy very seriously – we witnessed them make offenders delete photos from their memory cards.

Interesting Facts:

Vatican City:

  • Receives over 17,000 visitors per day

Vatican Museums:

  • Receive over 5 million visitors per year

Sistine Chapel:

  • Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel
  • Michelangelo was 35 when he painted his most important works – the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel
  • Michelangelo took 4 years to complete the art work
  • Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor first, painter second
  • Michelangelo was in his 60’s when he painted the Last Judgement

Tip: If you have travel binoculars with you, they come in very handy to see the details in the Sistine Chapel

The last stop on our Vatican City tour was a 20-minute visit inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

Bronze Baldachin over the Papal Altar

Bronze Baldachin over the Papal Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica:

  • Is the burial site of Saint Peter in 64 AD
  • Is the world’s largest church – home of the Catholic Church
  • Is built on Vatican Hill
  • The basilica has a surface area of 15,160 sq. meters (49,737 sq. ft.) – enough space for 60,000 visitors

    Dome of St. Peter's Basilica

    Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

Again, due to our Insight Vacations VIP tour access we walked right into the Basilica. Skipping the horrendous lines that wound around St. Peter’s Square… Priceless!

Next stop… Siena.

Previous: Insight Vacations Italian Escapade – | Tour Overview | Meet and Greet in Rome! | Rome with Local Historian |

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Note: WAVEJourney were guests of Insight Vacations for their April 30 – May 12, 2013 Italian Escapade tour. Read our full disclosure statement to see that this has no effect on our reviews.



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