6. Vatican Inside & Out: Sistine Chapel, Papal Train, & Lunch
The Vatican is a treasure chest of magnificent art galleries, historical treasures, exquisite gardens, and hidden wonders. With this well-thought-out itinerary, you’ll not only experience the full grandeur of the city-state but go beyond its borders to see the palaces where Popes have traditionally summered.
You'll meet your guide at the entrance to the Vatican Museums and skip the long queues. An official Vatican guide will lead you through some of the most impressive works on display. You’ll gain insight into the stories behind the huge art collection as you see the Gallery of Maps, the Octagonal Courtyard, the Raphael Rooms, and many more. The pinnacle of this journey, of course, is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel - a truly sacred artistic experience. Admire the ceiling that took five years to complete - your guide will have prepared you with all the intricate details to look out for.
Next, it’s time to take a breath of fresh air in the Vatican Gardens. Entry is strictly limited to those on guided tours (like this one), and it's easy to see why. Hectares of lush forests, medieval monuments, classical sculptures, and landscaped gardens will stretch out before you. Your guide will be on hand to supply anecdotes of the Vatican’s past as history blossoms to life before you.
After the Gardens, you’ll arrive at the Vatican Rail Station. This station was only re-opened by Pope Francis in 2015, and there’s only one train per week. You’ll take a trip on the Pope's private train, the scenic hills rolling by as you begin the second part of your day.
Before you disembark, you’ll see one of the most beautiful hill towns in Italy appear before you. Castel Gandolfo has long been a retreat for Popes during the summer months. With your expert guide, you’ll enjoy a welcome fit for a Pope in the form of a buffet lunch of local produce and fresh ingredients following a visit to Villa Barberini.
Such a special experience needs time to sink in, so we’ve allowed plenty of time after lunch for you to explore the town of Castel Gandolfo yourself. Included in your day is an audio-guided tour of the Papal Palace, where you can visit recently opened rooms including the Pope’s private chapel and bedrooms. Or perhaps you prefer to take a scenic walk, enjoying the views over the lake. Whatever the case, you’ll come away with a unique experience of this charming town.