Rome: a Private Tour of the Vatican and its Museums
An exclusive experience while on Italy vacation, the Vatican remains one of the most fascinating things to do in Rome. A city within a city covering 110 acres, it is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world. Ruled by the Bishop of Rome and the Pope, it is the sovereign territory of the Holy See, location of the Apostolic Palace and a holder of some of the most precious works of art in the world. With so much to behold within its walls, it is one of the most popular Rome tourist attractions and an ideal opportunity to beat the crowds by taking a private tour.
A fantastic experience among Rome private tours, step into the Vatican and see at its center St Peter’s Basilica. Bordered by palaces and gardens, take in the wonder of its double colonnade and circular piazza. Erected over the tomb of St Peter the Apostle, the basilica is the largest religious building in the world and represents the combined genius of Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno. Ancient tradition maintains that this tomb is also the spot where St. Peter was crucified. If open during the various Vatican tours, travel beneath the main floor of St. Peter’s Basilica to view the tombs of several popes and saints within the Vatican grottoes.
Another key aspect of a private tour is the Vatican Museum where you will be guided through areas such as the Gallery of Maps. These historically significant frescoes of Italian cities from the 16th century illustrate the countryside and geographical features like the Apennine Mountains and Tyrrhenian Sea. Travel through the Tapestry Gallery where Flemish tapestries are hanging on its walls. First shown in the Sistine Chapel in 1531, they have been available for exhibition in this Gallery since 1838.
Step into the four rooms of Raphael which were the apartments of Pope Julius II. Here, Raphael worked on frescoes while Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel. The paintings include several significant scenes from Christian history with the most famous one being the Room of the Segnatura in which The School of Athens is depicted. This particular scene incorporates the likenesses of Raphael’s artistic contemporaries Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
The final room of your private Vatican Museum tour is the Sistine Chapel. Its famous ceiling by Michelangelo is divided into nine central panels portray The Creation of the World, The Expulsion of Adam and Eve and The Story of Noah. You will also explore The Last Judgment Altar Frescoand upon closer inspection notice the face of Michelangelo on the body of Saint Bartholomew. Along the North and South walls, witness frescoes by artists such as Botticelli, Perugino, Rosselli, Ghirlandaio and Signorelli depicting the lives of Jesus and Moses. A fascinating site, it is still used by the church for important functions and is the location for where the conclave to elect a new Pope convenes.
In a grand end to your private tour, you will step out and take in the wonder of St. Peter’s Square. Enclosed in Bernini’s colonnade, enjoy the history and beauty of the square while discovering the four-thousand-year-old Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1568, at its very center. You will hear how Bernini designed this structure to include the massive Tuscan colonnades in which to embrace visitors in “the maternal arms of Mother Church.” For a special treat, if you are in the square on a Wednesday in the summer, you will see the Pope providing the Papal Blessing to the crowds below making for a grandiose end to your tours of Rome.