My Vatican Museums tour

Learning, exploring...

Five years.

That's how long it would take to see the entire Vatican Museum if you spent only 25 seconds inspecting each piece of art. Five years. However, since most people today work, socialize, and occasionally need to sleep, the "When In Rome Tours" version had to be slightly condensed. Even so, I quickly learned that an astounding amount of art, history, and wonder can be can be discovered in just a three hour tour.

Slipping passed the lines of tourists stretching down the cobblestone sidewalk, my Vatican tour group confidently trailed Vincenzo, our eccentric Italian guide, into the Vatican Museum. Once we were through the security gates and outside the buzz of the check-in area, we quickly found ourselves marveling at a square filled with statues, busts, and the Sphere Within Sphere by Arnold Pomodoro, or "Mr. Tomato", as Vincenzo joked...

With headsets on lanyards around our necks and camera phones at the ready, we were in full-blown, unmistakable tourist mode. Vincenzo took a few minutes to give us a brief yet vivid introduction to the artists and works we would see before beginning the journey.

Weaving through the garden of marble bodies and lifelike busts, we made our way to the Laocoön and His Sons. Michelangelo's muscled figures, in one of the most famous ancient sculptures in history, loomed over us in almost palpable agony. Before moving on, I had to linger for one more moment to admire the sculpture so perfect that Michelangelo, himself, refused to complete, holding the belief that he was too inexperienced to finish it.

Then suddenly, we were swept inside under the canopy of brilliant colors and detailed figures that decorated the high ceilings, finally inside the museum walls. We marveled with our necks tilted backwards, eyes tracing each and every detail as Vatican tour guide Vincenzo enthusiastically described the techniques, personalities, and lives of each individual artist.

Still, the most impactful twenty minutes for me were yet to come. Upon entering The Sistine Chapel, the immediate change in atmosphere was tangible. In silent unison, admirers walked in slow motion, studying the finest details that cover every possible inch of wall and ceiling. Hours wouldn't have been enough to fully appreciate the entirety of the room; thus, with so little time, each minute was savored.

Five years of admiring compressed and compacted into hours. This time in the Vatican learning, exploring, and discovering seemed to fly by, but the impact will last for years to come.

Published on July 4th, 2016
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by Katharine Carroll.

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