When I first visited the Vatican in 2013 it was in the beginning of June and only the beginning of peak season. My friend and I did a mid-day “skip-the-line” tour – and still ended up waiting almost 30 minutes on line. The crowds were rather bothersome when trying to take a photo, there was an extremely uncomfortable haze/humidity thing going on throughout the entire duration of the tour and it was loud and busy making it tough to hear what our guide was saying.
My second time visiting the Vatican with LivItaly Tours was the complete opposite experience. When I was working with LivItaly on which tours I wanted to go on I was hesitant to do another Vatican tour as my previous experience was “eh”, at best. I was assured that The After Hours Private Vatican Tour was not the average Vatican experience and it truly wasn’t the average Vatican experience.
My friend and I met our LivItaly tour-guide, Marcello, and two other patrons who took the tour with us across from the Vatican entrance. As a small group we all acquainted easily and made our way into the Vatican (without waiting on any lines!). Immediately walking into the Vatican there was a different atmosphere and aura compared to my prior experience; as if the entire country of the Vatican had kicked off its shoes for the day and was in serious relaxation mode. A fun fact Marcello informed me about on my tour: The Vatican is its own independent city-state with a size just one-eighth the size of New York City’s Central Park – making it the smallest country in the world.
My Vatican entry ticket in front of the painting that it was replicated from.
The after hours tour was most certainly a better environment (crowd wise) to take photos. However, unless you have a DSLR with manual settings (as I do) the low lighting in the Vatican can make it a bit difficult to capture the moments as you’re witnessing them. Furthermore, if you are on a tour with other people, even a small tour group such as the one I was a part of, chances are the tour will keep moving without you – leaving little time to play with your camera settings to get the perfect shot.
My first time in this room I had to push my way through, brushing shoulders with someone the entire time. This Time, I can barely count 20 people in the photo! The lack of crowds was amazing!
Marcello was pretty patient with me but instead of ruining the paying patrons experience I switched out my DSLR for my iPhone 6S – which still takes great quality photos – such as this (illegal) one I took in the Sistine Chapel. (Note: I don’t condone breaking the law, especially in one of the holiest places on earth, but sometimes I like to be a rebel.)
Shhhh… don’t tell.
With all the crowds present during my first visit to the Vatican – I never noticed how elaborate the floors are. It’s a true #IHaveThisThingWithFloors lovers dream. Before touring the Vatican with LivItaly Tours I hadn’t been aware that the Pope has his own Papal Cidgel or coat of arms – made up of a Papal Tiara and two crossed keys (often one silver, representing the earth and one gold, representing heaven.) When Marcello pointed out the coat of arms I started to notice it everywhere – even on the floors!
The Papal Coat of Arms, #FromWhereIStand.
All in all, my experience with LivItaly Tours, Marcello and the Vatican tour at night was a truly amazing experience and one that I don’t think can be matched by any other type of visit to the Vatican.