One of the Rome must see place is Vatican with Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. It is probably the most crowded place in Rome. A line to buy a ticket to Vatican museum was about 500 meters long at 10am. We expected it and bought our tickets online in advance and were happy to avoid wasting few hours of our precious time in crowd under the hot Italian sun.
There are 54 galleries in Vatican Museum in total, with the Sistine Chapel, being the very last gallery within the Museum. The collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries including some of the most famous classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.
The Museum designed the way that you have to go through all galleries one by one (with few shortcuts to Sistine Chapel on the way).We enjoyed Roman sculpture, tombstones, and inscriptions as well as paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and others.
Vatican Museum is huge and we were tired when reached Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is famous for the frescoes that present the interior, and most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and “The Last Judgment” by Michelangelo. It was so crowded there that I had to take Teddy on hands. Everyone was looking on sealing and absorbed a beautiful art in subway rush-hour like environment. From Sistine Chapel there is a direct pathway to St. Peter's Basilica that meant to be use by official Vatican guides and their groups. Fortunately, we knew about it and sneaked as a part of the big group and save at least one hour to walk around Vatican and wait in big line to enter Basilica.
St. Peter's Basilica is a Late Renaissance Church located within Vatican City. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's Basilica is the most famous work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. By Catholic tradition, the Basilica is the burial site of its Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, also according to the tradition, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. We spent some time in Basilica and St. Peter's Square. Teddy played with pigeons trying to catch them. Pigeons didn't fly away and just ran from Teddy inviting him to play more.
Our afternoon plans included Tiber river cruise and after lunch we headed to the Sant'Angelo Castle – the closest boat stop. There is a hop-on hop-off boat that runs between 2 stops (Tiber Isle and Ponte S. Angelo) during the day with ticket valid for 24 hour. Sant'Angelo Castle was awesome, but Tiber River is completely abandoned. To get to the river you have to take stairs around 20 meters down and enter a deserted area. I am wondering why they don’t create a river walk like in San Antonio, Texas and use kilometers of river bank for entertainment. I remember that in “Roman Holiday” movie it was a big dancing party on the Tiber river at Sant'Angelo Castle at the very place we were (when the princess Ann hits the royal agents over the head with beer bottles and then with a guitar). What happened there since 1953?
We took a boat and ride to Tiber Isle and back. It was no more than 10 tourists on the boat with us. We didn’t see a lot of the city because of 20 meters walls on both sides of the river. We enjoyed a relaxing breeze and architecture of the bridges and buildings.
Next day we booked for Colosseum – number one tourist attraction in Rome.