An experience of a lifetime. That fittingly describes the amazing experience I had yesterday evening. It doesn’t get more exclusive than being the only visitors in the Vatican Museums after closing hours and even more extraordinary, having the Sistine Chapel all to ourselves.
This was a private tour specially arranged by The Roman Guy, and together with other invited guests, we spent a few hours basking in the stunning Vatican Museums without being hoarded around or having to wait our turn to see the masterpieces.
We started the tour in the Cortile della Pigna and while I knew this was a special tour, it only hit me when we stepped into the Cortile della Pigna and it was deserted. Definitely a wow-moment as we enjoyed the peaceful and serene setting while Brandon, our guide and a co-owner of The Roman Guy, officially welcomed us and mentioned that this special tour was organized in conjunction with the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII this coming Sunday, April 27.
As we made our through the Museums, it was remarkable to only hear the echoes of our footsteps, and getting a close up look at details without being pushed around or getting elbowed at was a huge plus. One of my favorite sections in the Vatican Museums is the Gallery of Maps and I got excited at the idea of seeing it completely vacant. As we entered, I took a few steps before the group and for a moment, enjoyed the splendor of it all.
Brandon was a fabulous guide and with so much to see in only a few hours, he pointed out the highlights and amusing details that made the tour interesting yet fun. Since I have been to the Vatican Museums more times than I can recall, I’ll admit that I was simply soaking up the VIP experience more than anything else. Can you blame me? It’s not everyday you get the Museums to yourself.
And finally as we made our way down the steps to the entrance of the Sistine Chapel, the door was closed. One of us had the privilege to open the doors to the Sistine Chapel and once inside, to say I was awe-struck at having the place to ourselves is an understatement. There really are no words to describe the experience.
Brandon took a few minutes to give us a brief background of the Chapel and to describe the details of the frescoes before giving us our own personal time in this sacred and special place. And though I am not religious, sitting on a bench at the far end with the entire view of The Last Judgment, the Creation of Adam above, and engulfed in silence, I had to fight back my emotions. It was a deeply moving moment.
It would be hard to beat this experience and I doubt that I could ever step in the Vatican Museums again with the crowds. Don’t get me wrong. Even with the crowds, the Vatican Museum is a must-visit for first-timers and I have done my share of being part of the crowd. However, this is an incredible experience to treasure.
And while the evening could have ended there, The Roman Guy went all the way out for this special event. After the tour, we were invited to dinner at Casina Valadier, in Pincio, where we were treated to a feast and a striking view of none other than St. Peter’s.
It was an exceptional and surreal evening, and many thanks to The Roman Guy for the invitation to this remarkable and privileged event.
Disclosure: I was a guest of The Roman Guy and obviously, all opinions are my own. While this was a specially arranged private tour, The Roman Guy offers a similar experience with their “Privileged Entrance” Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica Tour in the mornings before the doors are opened to the public and an evening tour (only on Fridays) after closing hours. Also if you are short on time, their Vatican Privileged Entrance Express tour is the perfect option.