You are headed to Rome! On top of your list for places to visit is Vatican City, the smallest state in the world and centered in Rome. Hopeful to see Pope Francis or go to the Vatican museum when you’re there? Here are some helpful tips when visiting.
Getting to Vatican City
Just north of Rome’s city center, Vatican City is known as the spiritual capital of the Catholic faith. Finding your way to the city is simple through Rome’s various transportation options. Metro line A’s Ottaviano and Cipro stop leave you close to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museum. They have signs letting you know where the stop will leave you near. Various bus lines go through to the city as well. Bus 40 is a popular line that connects from the Termini station to the Vatican. It also goes through central Rome to the Piazza Venezia, the historic Tiber Bend and lastly to Castel Sant’Angelo. Always be careful and wary of pickpockets on any public transportation. Bus 40 is known to attract them due to the large amount of tourist that use the line. Walking is also a great way to enjoy the city.
The Vatican Museum
Holding the largest collection of art in the world, the Vatican Museum is at the top of the list of places to visit for many. It is not possible to see all the rooms in one day and an art enthusiast should plan on spending the whole day here. If your main goal is to see the Sistine Chapel, 3 to 4 hours is an adequate amount of time to see prominent rooms.
Guided tours can also be booked through the website. Dress code is applicable here for both men and women, no bare shoulders or above the knee shorts or skirts. On hot summer days it can be difficult going through the museum. I have heard of people fainting so make sure to keep yourself hydrated! Water bottles are sold outside the doors but can be expensive. I suggest buying a water bottle just a few blocks before or bringing your own!
The Sistine Chapel
Although you may think The Sistine Chapel is its own structure the only way to get inside is through the Vatican museum. When inside, it will be hushed and crowded. No photography is allowed in the chapel. There will be security guards watching and enforcing the rule. But you can snap a few shots if you are quick or on your way out.
St Peter’s Square
Before entering the square you must go through security. The dress code is enforced so make sure you are dressed appropriately. You will be turned way of you are not in dress code or you can buy The Vatican museum has the same dress code. Once inside you can see the Obelisk in the center of the square. As well as two fountains, the first designed by Carlo Moderno and the second a replica by Carlo Fontana to keep the symmetry of the square. And of course St. Peter’s Basilica.
St Peter’s Basilica
Going into the Basilica is free as well but there is often a long queue of visitors. It opens at 7:00am to 7:00pm every day from April to September and at 7:00am to 6:00 pm from October to March. Try arriving early to beat the line. Once inside you will be awed by the beautiful architecture and the art. Some memorable art pieces are Michelangelo’s Pieta or Bernini’s Baldacchino.
Getting to see Pope Francis
Audiences are held every Wednesday at 10am when the Pope is in the city. He addresses the public through various languages. Tickets are free and you can pick them up from a Swiss Guard at the “Bronze Door” if you need less than 10 tickets.
Every Sunday when he is in Rome, Pope Francis will give an Angelus praying and a Papal blessing from the window of his apartment overlooking the square. It can get really crowded so come early! He will give his blessing in rain or shine so be prepared to crane over umbrellas.
Buying Souvenirs in Vatican City
Every Sunday the Pope gives his papal blessing make sure to bring your religious souvenirs to get them blessed. Rosaries blessed by the Pope are a great gift to bring to family and friends. If you are low on money, I suggest buying souvenirs outside of Vatican City or from the vendors. They tend to be pricy at the stores in St. Peter’s Square. When buying from vendors make sure to ask for cheaper prices and make deals. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price. Making bargains is normal and you want to get the best deal!
Visiting the Vatican for the first time can be a spiritual and mesmerizing experience. Whether you are religious or not there will be something to appreciate in the wonderful city.
Have any other tips or experiences to share about the Vatican? Let me know by commenting down below!