Rome Tours and walks by foot, car or Segway

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Visit the Sistine Chapel

"And what is this that
rises propped, with
pillars of prodigious
Is this really on the
earth, this miraculous
Dome of God?"

Robert Growning


In 1535 a painter who by then was old filled a wall with bodies sucked in by the vortex of he who judges all in … the Pope’s private chapel. The Counter-Reformation was ruthless, even if the offending image had been created by Michelangelo Buonarroti. His work, The Last Judgement, was later to be touched up appropriately by his loyal follower, pupil and silent admirer Daniele da Volterra, who thus saved it from sure destruction. The restoration work completed in 2002 recovered part of the original splendour, enabling us to remain enthralled today by the radiance of Michelangelo’s colours. The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel is, however, only the last of the works of art admired along the route that will make us discover the immense Vatican palazzos, where the Popes once lived surrounded by the world’s greatest collection of works of art. This is why, with their 10,000 visitors a day, the museums are the most visited in Italy.
The Vatican Museums, however, are famous not only for the Sistine Chapel but also for an extremely fine collection of celebrated pictures that belonged to the Church or to the private collections of various Popes. Today they are visible in the splendid Vatican Picture Gallery, the home of the only definite work painted by Giotto in Rome, the only Roman work of Leonardo, Caravaggio’s Deposition from the Cross, Raphael’s tapestries and his picture The Transfiguration, which stood beside his deathbed.
The collection of antique statues that inspired artists of all ages, from Michelangelo to Raphael and from Mengs to Canova, today forms the marvellous Pius-Clementine Museum. Its Octagonal Courtyard is the location of the famous Laocoon group, a 1st-century copy of the Greek original unearthed - as was the famous Apollo Belvedere statue - at the very time when Michelangelo was working,
To round off the tour, there are the celebrated Raphael’s Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello), built at the behest of Pope Nicholas V in the building beside the basilica, but decorated only later on in the Renaissance age by Raphael who, with his enterprising brilliance, managed to beat other contemporary artists and win the prestigious commission.


The new entrance is still in Via delle Mura Vaticane. Don’t worry if you see a frighteningly long queue below the Vatican walls. If you’ve booked your entrance via the website shown below, your queue will be much shorter and faster moving. Visitors go through a metal detector on arrival. I advise everyone not to take sharp tools such pocket knives with them, as the officials will make you leave them at a somewhat out-of-the-way deposit and you’ll have to pick them up at the end of the itinerary. To book your entrance to the Museums in advance. If you’re a group of over 6 people, it’s advisable to hire earphones so as to be able to follow the guide without being disturbed by surrounding noise. They’re very useful for guided tours in the city but indispensable – i.e. compulsory - for groups of more than 6 people for visits inside Roman churches. They can be booked at the site.


The Vatican Museums consist of 25 (twenty-five) galleries, collections and the picture gallery featuring routes totalling over 5 km (3.1 miles) on 4 levels. Understandably, it’s therefore impossible to see everything in just one visit.
The visit normally lasts about 3 hours and includes the Courtyard of the “Pigna” (pine cone), the Candelabra Gallery, the Tapestry Gallery and the Maps Gallery, indispensable parts of the route to get to the building housing the Sistine Chapel. From here one goes into St. Peter’s Basilica, then ending the visit in the famous Bernini piazza … “which embraces all the faithful”.
If you want to visit other collections, such as the Vatican Picture Gallery, the Raphael Rooms or the Pius-Clementine Museum, you’ll have to plan at least 1 hour more for each museum added to the original 3.
It’s possible to eat inside the Museums in two refreshment and restaurant areas.

appropriate clothing

It has long not been rare to find a sign at the entrance of the main churches banning the entry of people in sleeveless tops and shorts. While in the majority of churches in Italy no one takes any notice if this ban is not respected, in Rome – above all in the basilicas that have Vatican extraterritorial status – there are Vatican people who check that it is. Appropriate dress is therefore advisable, i.e. with knees and shoulders covered, for the itineraries that include visits inside churches such as, for example, the Vatican Museums, Baroque Rome and Christian Rome itineraries.


To make things easier for visitors and to disturb praying churchgoers less, there is a regulation that, in churches, basilicas and chapels, groups of more than 6 people must be equipped with earphones so that guides aren’t forced to raise their voices when providing explanations.
I myself, however, find that earphones are in any case practical tools making it possible to optimize use of time and communicate information better. Here below you’ll find some sites where you can book them.

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