Despite being the smallest country in the world and a long history of controversies, I have a considerable interest to visit the Vatican as for a fact, it is home to some of the greatest art treasures of all time. And most probably, my visit to Rome could be my once in a lifetime chance to see the Holy See.
I have often been skeptical of tour guides. But after seeing the endless line of tourists which started to form by the entrance to the Vatican City, I did not hesitate to consider when a friendly tour guide approached us for a ”skip the line" option. I got trust issues but hey, she’s a Filipina. So I skipped the queue and took the bait. She led us to the tour office where our lady guide awaits completing the group. After that, we’ve been shepherd to a mysteriously quiet passage to the Vatican City.
With our personal headsets on, the tour starts at the entrance to the Vatican Museums. Credit goes to our tour lady with her rich knowledge and loads of interesting facts bringing every work of art to life. It made me appreciate every piece of art up close while listening to her commentary from the Pinecone Courtyard, the Hall of Maps, the Gallery of Tapestries and Candelabra to the Raphael Rooms.
Heading our way through a small unassuming door, we emerged to one of the most celebrated masterpieces in the world — the Sistine Chapel. I’ve seen a lot of Michelangelo’s artwork in photos but you get to fully appreciate the grandeur of his work seeing it firsthand. The vivid colours of the frescoes on the ceiling tells the story of The Creation of the Heavens and Earth, followed by The Creation of Adam and Eve, the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the story of Noah and the Great Flood; finally is a depiction of the Last Judgment on the altar wall.
To gaze upon such magnificence is an incredible experience. I could literally stand up there all day in awe surrounded by some of the greatest artwork ever produced and perhaps, one of the greatest treasures of humanity.
Capping off our tour is a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. Apparently, there’s a shortcut from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter's Basilica via a “special door” — talk about perks of having a tour guide. The grand St. Peter’s Basilica tour highlights yet another Michelangelo’s best - the beautiful sculpture, La Pietà.
Haven’t got enough of the tour so we took a leap of faith and scaled the purgatorial 320 steps to the top of St Peter's Basilica spiraling inside its very dome — somewhat like a stairway to heavens. There's no way you’ll reach heaven, but you’ll get the best view of the St. Peter’s Square overlooking the whole of Rome.