What does one do when presented with one of the world's largest private art collections?
How does one comprehend, conquer, or even know where to begin in a place as massive as the Vatican Museum?
What do you even say when you turn your head up to see the Sistine Chapel? What words can do it justice? (Answer: none.)
Vatican City is the world's tiniest country, but yet, it holds some of the world's most sacred treasures.
Artwork from 3rd-century Greece, artefacts from Mexico and Guatemala, Egyptian collections, and Buddhist statues from the Far East. The Vatican Museum is a whirlwind of history, art, and mind-blowing knowledge from all corners of the earth.
This was my second time setting foot in the Vatican, and with the exception of the Sistine Chapel, nothing I saw was the same. You could come here day after day and not see the same thing twice with over 20,000 pieces of art and antiquity on display.
To answer some of the questions I first posed, the best way conquer, see, and understand a museum of this magnitude is by following a knowledgeable local guide like a lost puppy. I was stoked to hear my visit to the Vatican with Topdeck included a guided tour – otherwise, I may have got lost forever in there (I guess it wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world).
There's a lot to take in, and even with a guide, there's only so much that you can see in a morning. However, everything you do get to see will make sense and you'll get a taste of who the artists were and the meaning of the painting. The museum wouldn't have been as enjoyable without our lovely guide, Fabio.
The Sistine Chapel is of course, next level. Nothing beats seeing this masterpiece in person. And to think one man on some rickety scaffolding painted it... Again, there are no words that can speak to the magnitude of this impressive work of art. I could try but there's no point. Just staring in awe is all that I managed to do.
After the dimmed chapel you step back out into the light of day and are shown St Peter's Basilica. That gorgeous dome you've caught glimpses of as you wandered the museum is finally in front of you!
For some cool and fun photos, I suggest wandering around the pillars. For some odd reason, it's not full of people (like the square is), it's shaded, and it makes for a great snap! Especially since you'll be itching to use your camera since you can't in the Sistine Chapel (trust me, they are SERIOUS about that rule).
Rome is iconic in itself, but the Vatican deserves its own attention. Museum-goer or not, this place is magical and, at the least, deserves a morning of your time to see the grandeur of the buildings and the impressive art that it holds.
The Vatican is definitely an #Ultimate49 experience for the books!
Nina Ragusa is a pro adventurer and traveller who’s been abroad since 2011. She blogs at Where in the World is Nina and has a life mission of travelling, living and working on all continents. Nina takes you around the world with her sassy yet informative writing and gives the low-down on how to work abroad and travel like a badass.