Complete Tour Description
With No-Wait Access, you’ll skip past long lines that snake around the Vatican walls so you can spend more time exploring the world’s most incredible art collection and less time waiting outside. With commentary from your expert, English-speaking guide you’ll visit the highlights of the Museums. The tour will bring you through the Gallery of Maps, the Gallery of Tapestries, the Gallery of Candelabra and the incredible Raphael Rooms. Listen as your guide brings these works of art to life for you – pointing out things most visitors miss and teaching you about the characters behind these great works.
The pinnacle of any visit to the Vatican is, of course, the Sistine Chapel. Complete silence is required while inside the sacred chapel but don’t worry, your guide will teach you all about the brightly-colored frescos that adorn the chapel’s walls and ceiling before you get there. With the aid of photographs and your guide’s expert knowledge, you’ll know exactly what to look out for when you get inside. And, don't miss Michelangelo’s boneless self-portrait, his message to the world that he would rather be skinned alive than paint the Sistine Chapel again! You’ll have a better understanding of the toll this masterpiece took on the artist’s health when you experience the incredible detail of the chapel for yourself.
Following your tour of the Museums, you’ll get the rare opportunity to visit the meditation gardens of the greenest country in the world. Before boarding the Vatican train you’ll get to see hidden gems such as the Rose Garden, Renaissance villas, medieval walls, and even the Pope’s private heliport. Onboard the Vatican train which has only recently been opened to the public, you’ll traverse through hidden parts of the Vatican State. Hear entertaining historical anecdotes and intriguing facts about the city as you travel.
An official Vatican guide will welcome you to Castel Gandolfo, in the lush Alban Hills and take you through the horticultural delights of the Barberini Gardens. Built over the ruins of Emperor Domitian’s villa, these gardens have been described as some of the most beautiful in Italy. This Renaissance complex is a masterpiece of mixed influences, combining features from imperial Rome with classical garden landscapes like the Magnolia Garden and the Path of Roses. If the clear air and garden walking has built up an appetite for you at this stage now is the perfect time to take some free time and get some lunch.
The Papal Residence is your last stop on this full-day tour. During your private tour, you’ll be given a unique insight into Papal life. This 17th-century abode has served as a summer residence to the Popes since Urban VIII chose it for its stunning views in 1626. As you peruse the Papal Apartments, containing the Pope's private bedroom, study, and chapel, your guide will relay expert knowledge of the papacy, its traditions and the part it played in history as a sanctuary for refugees during World War II. Don’t forget to enjoy more stunning views of this remarkable building, often referred to as the ‘Second Vatican’, and its surrounding landscape from the Papal Terrace.
No wonder that this was where the popes retreated to pray and reflect in solitude. From here you'll be able to take in views that sweep to the sea, before boarding your train for your transport back to Rome.