Duration: 10 hours
Start Time: 7:45 AM
You could easily spend hours roaming the Vatican Museums only to realize you've missed the most significant features. With this well-thought-out itinerary, you’ll experience the full grandeur of the city-state. Begin the day early at the Vatican Museums' entrance, skipping the long queues for immediate entry into this incredible collection. To add depth and color to the impressive array of art on display, you’ll be accompanied by an official Vatican guide. With a true expert on hand, you’ll gain insight into Vatican life and the stories behind these seminal works. Take in the very best of the masterpieces, including the Gallery of Maps, the Octagonal Courtyard, The Raphael Rooms, and many more. The pinnacle of this journey is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel - a truly sacred artistic experience.
Next, you’ll see the breathtaking Vatican Gardens. It’s only possible to enter these gardens as part of a guided tour (like this one), and soon you’ll see why. 23 hectares of lush forests, medieval monuments, classical sculptures, and landscaped gardens will be stretched before you. As your guide regales you with tales of the Vatican’s past, history will blossom to life before your eyes. Continuing through the Gardens, you’ll arrive at the Vatican Rail Station. Re-opened by Pope Francis as recently as 2015, become one of the few passengers to step aboard the Pope’s own train. (And with only one train per week, this short journey is a treasure in itself!)
Your path steers towards Castel Gandolfo, one of the most scenic hill towns in Italy, housing the Papal Palace where generations of Popes escaped the heat of the city during the summer months. Accompanied by your guide, you’ll begin at Villa Barberini and wind your way towards the Barberini Gardens where a sumptuous buffet lunch of typical Roman fare awaits.
With time left after lunch to explore the beautiful local area, an audio-guided tour of the Papal Palace can be taken. Also known as the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s summer residence is ripe for exploration. You can even visit recently opened rooms like the Pope’s private chapel and bedrooms. Since Castel Gandolfo is one of the most beautiful towns in the region, we’ve made sure to allow free time to discover it for yourself. Enjoy a leisurely walk, explore the main square, or take some time to soak up the tranquil views over the lake.