We had two tours booked for our last full day in Rome and both involved the Vatican. Our first tour met at 6:30am outside the Vatican Museums. We were in a group of about 11 people, a few from Australia and the rest from the US. Our tour began with breakfast in the courtyard of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. The museums is plural. There are many long rooms one after the other filled with tapestries and paintings by Michelangelo and Raphael. Each one unique and interesting.
After passing through the museums you are led into the Sistine Chapel, no pictures allowed. It was at about this time that the crowds started picking up. The guide had told us what to look for before entering the chapel which made the visit much more interesting. Once though the chapel you are led into St. Peter's Basilica. This is a jubilee year so they have opened what is called the holy doors. Anyone passing through them is abstained from their sins. (Someone who will remain nameless says that's the only reason he agreed to come!) Once through the doors we were led around by our guide who explained in detail some of the many artifacts and paintings. Afterwards we were free to explore on our own, the tour was over.
We decided to walk up to the top of the dome of the basilica...all 382 steps. Like the duomo in Florence, you get a great view from that vantage point. You can see all of of St. Peter's Square, the Vatican gardens and beyond. Heading down we stopped in a few of the shops and mailed some postcards with the Vatican postmark. Now it was about 12:30 and we had time to kill before our next tour so we left the Vatican grounds and got lunch.
Our next tour was the Scavi tour which started at 3:30pm. This tour takes you down into the excavations under the basilica where it is said to hold the bones of St Peter. Neither of us claim to be historians and agreed the tour was not on our top 10 list. It's too bad too. They only allow 150 people in each day and you need to email the Vatican for tickets. I was really excited when I first found out we would be getting them. The guide spoke English, but fast with an Italian accent which may have added to our disappointment. You didn't always know what she was saying. One plus was exiting through the crypts of many of the previous popes.
By now it was 5:30 so we headed back to our room to charge our phones, rest our feet and repack our suitcases for our trip home. When we get up tomorrow we won't have to rush. For our last dinner in Rome I referred to some recommendations from my friend Pam. This was probably our best meal in Rome. Afterwards we strolled over to the Trevi fountain to see it lit up at night. One last gelato and by 10pm we were heading back to our room.