To read about the first 2 days in Rome, click here.
Our third and last day in Italy’s capital we dedicated to the Vatican. A tip I would suggest is to do the same when visiting Rome. The reason – everything in the Vatican is absolutely majestic, both in size and authenticity. So, if you first go there everything else will seem so small and unimpressive.
We started with the Musei Vaticani, first visiting the Pope’s “garage”, where you can see the chariots of each of the Popes. The oldest ones are covered in gold and are opulently decorated but some of the more recent ones are quite humble, because at some point people started considering it scandalous that the Church was spending so much money on chariots.
The Vatican museums include 20-30 different museums, but the ones that stand out the most are the Raphael’s Rooms, which are truly stunning, and the Sistine Chapel (at least, I liked these the most). Before visiting it would be a good idea to do some research, because what’s the point in just looking at something you know nothing about? I found particularly captivating the story behind the Sistine Chapel and how Michelangelo created this splendour. He was originally a sculptor, so painting wasn’t his thing. He had many rivals who wanted to humiliate him and ruin his reputation, so they set him up when the Pope announced he needed someone to restore the ceiling of the Chapel. Michelangelo was given the task and he first hired several painters to teach him how to draw. He watched them carefully when they worked, studied every movement every technique and eventually the student surpassed his teachers. Michelangelo himself painted the most of the ceiling and the final result was mind-blowing. He, and also Raphael, used techniques we now know as 3D – if you look closely at some of the figures in the Sistine Chapel you’ll start to wonder whether it is just a painting or a carving in the ceiling.
Our tour ended with the Saint Peter’s basilica. I literally was left speechless and awestruck. Everything was so breathtaking I started questioning how this could be made by men. Even if your not a Christian or religious at all you feel something divine inside. A thing you cannot miss is Michelangelo’s dome. You’ll be charged extra but the price was €5-7 or so. You can either take the lift or the stairs. We chose the stairs and unless you have some physical discomfort I would suggest you do too – it’s just so much more interesting. At first everything’s wide but as you near the top it eventually gets steep and narrow. At some places there’s even this strange angle of the staircase that looks so odd. You can see the dome from in the inside, right above the basilica’s base and it is so high that you can barely tell the things below apart – people are like small dots scattered around. Then you can go a little more up to the roof of the basilica, from where you get a view of the city and the dome. And I think there’s no need to mention that the view from the dome itself is the absolute best. Wherever you look you’ll be amazed. Centuries and centuries of history. Hundreds of great people have walked these paths. Eternity captured within a single city. Even now, thousands of years after its establishment it’s still full of people from all over the world. I guess they were right when they said that all paths lead to Rome.
Bonus: The best way to get closer to Italian art is to visit the different galleries. There are hundreds of them in Rome, but I suggest you take into account Villa Borghese (there’s a very beautiful park as well) and Palazzo Barberini. Both are located in easy to rich locations and keep works of some of the greatest names in Italian art, such as Caravaggio, Raphael, Bernini and many more.