Italy 2017: Vatican Museums

From our research we knew that the Vatican Museums were going to be an epic undertaking. To make sure to see all of the most interesting bits before our feet gave out we planned out a route in advance. We rarely rested, didn’t visit every gallery, and it still took us over four hours of exploring to get through the entire complex! There is a well labelled route that takes visitors one way through a series of galleries, all ending up at the famous Sistine Chapel. I believe we walked about four miles by the end of our visit!

Cortile della Pigna (pine cone)
Cortile della Pigna (pine cone)

Chiaramonti Museum
Chiaramonti Museum, a loooong hall of exquisite sculpture

Perseus with the head of Medusa  Augustus of Prima Porta
Perseus and Augustus of Prima Porta in the Braccio Nuovo gallery

Braccio Nuovo gallery  Laocoön
Braccio Nuovo gallery and the Laocoön

porphyry bathtub of Emperor Nero
porphyry bathtub of Emperor Nero (hard to see in this photo but the stone is purple)

mosiac floor
gorgeous mosaic floor in the Pio Clementino

Gallery of Maps
the ceiling in the Gallery of Maps outshines the walls!

School of Athens by Raphael
The School of Athens by Rafael

more amazing ceilings

Vatican Museum
amazing ceiling and frescoes in the Rafael Rooms

Jesus and his sheep  spiral staircase @ Vatican Museum
Jesus and his sheep; the spiral staircase

The sheer amount of priceless art and opulence is a bit overwhelming to be honest. And, of course, there are several gifts shops along the way so you don’t even have to wait until the end to buy souvenirs. </sarcastic voice>

of course there's a gift shop

We have no pictures to share of the Sistine Chapel as you are not allowed to take pictures in there. Most people were obeying the rules, but the experience of admiring the ceiling was periodically interrupted by loud “SHHHHHH”ing noises from the guards and the occasional “NO PHOTO!”

Overall, I think the Vatican Museums is an experience absolutely worth doing once, just make sure to wear your most comfortable shoes. And the next time we’re in Rome we’ll definitely make it inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

Italy 2017: Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and Colosseum

One ticket gets you into the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the landmark Colosseum, so we spent the better part of a day exploring the ruins. We took a (rather jarring) bus ride that dropped us off directly across the street from the Palatine Hill … [Continue reading]

Italy 2017: food & drink in Rome

Sunday Looking for a late lunch, we quizzed our hotel guy for options nearby. One of his recommendations was Lo Zozzone, hidden in an alleyway off a tourist restaurant street. There were many sandwich & pizza choices, all a slight variation of … [Continue reading]

Italy 2017: exploring Rome

Sunday The quick 1.5 hour train ride from Florence to Rome was fairly uneventful. It took us a few tries to find the subway entrance from Termini as it wasn't well marked and a few entrances to the A line were closed for some reason. We wound up … [Continue reading]

Italy 2017: food & drink in Florence

Thursday Our only dinner reservation in Florence was at La Buchetta on our first evening, largely because we didn't know what to expect amongst restaurants there. We were seated promptly in the back room under a video monitor that showed the plating … [Continue reading]

Italy 2017: daytrip to Chianti

There are many, many options to explore the Chianti region via daytrips from Florence. We immediately ruled out any that involved being on a bus with 50+ other people, so that left small van tours and private tours. In the end, we decided to spend … [Continue reading]

Italy 2017: Florence museums, Bargello & Uffizi Gallery

Florence was a major center of the Renaissance, and quite a few important art and architecture pieces remain in the city. On this trip we visited two of the highlights, the Bargello and the Uffizi Gallery. Bargello We started our day at the … [Continue reading]