If you read travel forums you would see people suggest not to go to Vatican museum with kids because it is always crowded and kids may not enjoy being in a museum for too long. I read few articles that there are families who bring their kids to the museum but we have to be realistic. I crossed guided tours because Achita would not have the patient so we just had to DIY with the help of Rick Steves audio tour.
I recommend to download Rick Steves audio tour prior to your trip as it really helped if you didn’t go with a guide. I downloaded some of his audio tours and listened to it throughout my Italy trip.
Hubby had to fly back to Jakarta for his Board Meeting so only the three of us for the time being until we meet again the next few days in Firenze. We took the bus to Vatican City where we will start our day by visiting Vatican Museum. I have bought the bus tickets at the nearby tobacco store. Best to calculate how many you would need and buy them in one go. Sometimes they can be difficult to find.
We arrived in Vatican Museum too early as our ticket entrance was only 10am. So we went to a nearby cafe and had some breakfast. I made sure kids tummies are filled so they were not cranky when we spent a long time in the museum
Cafe near Vatican Museum was somewhat overpriced so it is best to have breakfast near your place and only come to Vatican as per the entrance time in the ticket
The Vatican Museum is famous because it host the most important and largest art collection in the world which include masterpieces of antiquity, from Egypt to Greece to Rome, from early Christian and medieval art to the Renaissance, from the 17th century to contemporary art. Frescoes, paintings, mosaics, sculptures and statues of inestimable beauty created by great artists and collected by the popes over the centuries, are preserved and exhibited in the various rooms of the Vatican Museums and represent the largest art collection in the world.
This immense heritage was made possible through the progressive enrichment with masterpieces from the Renaissance up to the twentieth century. The Vatican museum complex, with 54 museums in total and 70,000 works, of which only 20,000 on display, is spread over 1400 rooms, chapels and galleries, and is the custodian of an extraordinary legacy of masterpieces, beauty and history as well as a symbolic place of dialogue between cultures and religions.
We entered the museum at 10am and again saw a ridiculously long queue which we happily skipped. There are few routes of how you could see the museum and they would all ended in Sistine Chapel. We chose the routes which did not have to involve stairs yet. There were routes with stairs here and there along the museum route. I chose the route for wheelchair for user but as Achita was awake I just folded her stroller and carry it as needed. Yoyo stroller is truly the best when it comes to traveling.
We bought Vatican museum ticket online from the official website here: Musei VA
Full Entry Ticket 17 EUR + 4 EUR Booking fee for online
Reduced ticket for children 6-18 yo: 8EUR + 4 EUR Booking fee for online
Children 5yo and below Free
I briefed Achita before entering Sistine Chapel that she had to stay quiet. We were also not allowed to take any pictures inside the chapel.
The Vatican Gardens date back to medieval times when orchards and vineyards extended north of the Papal Apostolic Palace. Pope Nicholas III in 1279 moved his residence to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace, closing this area with walls. He created an orchard, a meadow and a garden. At the beginning of the 16th century, during the papacy of Julius II, a remodeling of the landscape was carried out and under the original design of Donato Bramante was divided into three new courtyards: the Cortile del Belvedere, the Library Courtyard and the Cortile della Pigna with the landscape design of the Renaissance. Also in Renaissance style a rectangular labyrinth was created made in boxwood (shrubs and small evergreen trees) and framed with pinewood and Lebanon cedar. In the place where Nicholas III built a wall, Bramante built a great defensive rectilinear wall.
The Vatican Gardens of today have numerous fountains, sculptures and artificial caves, generally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and other saints.
We went outside to see the Vatican garden and after that I got really confused on how to continue to St Peter Basilica without going outside. We finally found an exit but it took us back to the museum entrance.
Frustrated I finally decided to go for lunch first and then figured out how to make our way back inside to visit St Peter Basilica. We had lunch in McDonald which was always the easiest option and found that the entrance to Vatican was not too far. So after lunch we went back inside Vatican City and saw the long queue to enter St Peter Basilica. St Peter Basilica was free so we could not skip the lines. There might be an entrance to St Peter Basilica from the museum which could skip the queue but we could not find it. We were already starving by the time we finish with the museum, so we had to have lunch first. Achita was asleep in her stroller after her tummy is full. So Fabio and I braved ourselves to queue in the heat. I got my umbrella and Fabio had his hat. What I missed was a portable fan!!!!!
St Peter Basilica
St Peter Basilica was built between 1506 and 1626 on the site of a church dating from the time of emperor Constantine the Great (324). According to tradition, this church contained the grave of Peter. Because building St. Peters Basilica took so long, several designers worked on it, including Bramante, Raphael, Antonio del Sangallo, Michelangelo, and Carlo Maderno. Many of the decorations in the Basilica are the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. One of the most impressive aspects of the Basilica are its dimensions – 136 metres high and 186×123 metres wide.
After passing security clearance we were told that we could not enter with a stroller. Hence Fabio and I took turn to go inside while the other waiting with Achita still sleeping.
Achita finally awoke as we made our way out from Vatican city and continued our walk to see Castel Sant Angelo or Castle of the holy Angel.
Castel Sant Angelo
Castel Sant Angelo was built in the 2nd century as a mausoleum by order of emperor Hadrian. The mausoleum did not become associated with the name of archangel Michael until 590, when Pope Gregory I saw archangel Michael sheathe his sword on top of the mausoleum during a plague to signal the end of the epidemic. Later pope Pius II built a chapel at the site where the archangel was said to have appeared. The remarkable bronze statue of archangel Michael was made in 1753 by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt. Castek Sant Angelo also owes a lot of its fame to the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, where the castle served as a hideout for the Illuminati.
Castel Sant Angelo was connected to the Vatican by a tunnel in 1722. This way, the castle served as a refuge for the Pope and treasure chamber to secure the valuable church possessions in case of an attack on the Vatican and the St. Peter’s Basilica. For centuries, the castle was even used as a prison and execution site. The six-storey building with 58 rooms has had a turbulent history. In 1870, the Vatican gave the Castle of the Holy Angel to the Italian army, which opened it to the public in the form of a museum
The Castle is connected with the other side of the Tiber by the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, or Aelian Bridge. Each side of the bridge is lined with five angels made by pupils of Bernini. The angels carry objects related to the suffering of Jesus.
Walking thru the bridge of Angel brought us to Campo di Fiore. As we walk on the shaded alley we took a stop for gelato.
On the way we stumbled into Piazza Navona again. The street musician was already playing songs so we sit down and stretch our legs while Achita busy chasing and counting all the pigeons 😂
When we finally reached Campo di Fiore, it was already closed. So we took a bus home passing Piazza Venezia which look really pretty.
I took the kids to have dinner in Japanese restaurant close to the apartment because Achita was craving rice. She was so excited that she finished 3/4 of the rice and fell asleep after her tummy was full. Tomorrow we were going to leave Roma and took the train to Firenze.