Saturday as a Pope: No-Wait Tour, Large Group
- Duration: 10 Hours (approx.)
- Location: Italy
Until 2015, Castel Gandolfo—a lavish estate in the Alban Hills south of Rome—was used exclusively as the private summer residence of the Pope. Now, however, the property has opened to visitors as a museum. With the help of Headsets and audio-guided commentary, this tour lets you explore the lavish estate and gardens at Castel Gandolfo, after starting your day at another equally exquisite papal destination: the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
What We Love About This Tour:
- Taking in the artistic wonders of the Vatican Museums—including sumptuous ancient tapestries, maps, and sculptures
- Gazing at Michelangelo’s masterworks: the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel
- Wandering among the rooms, gardens, fountains, and private farmhouse of the papal summer estate
- Enjoying a train ride through the scenic countryside south of Rome
Stop 1: The Vatican Museums
After meeting your assistant near the entrance to the Vatican Museums—and skipping right past the long entry lines— you’ll walk through cavernous galleries filled with ancient sculptures, ornate tapestries, beautifully preserved maps, and Etruscan antiquities. You’ll also visit Raphael’s Rooms, a quartet of sumptuous spaces whose walls and ceilings were completely covered in paintings by the 16th-century master.
Stop 2: The Sistine Chapel
The most famous frescoes in the world will greet you when you enter the jewel box that is the Sistine Chapel. Here, you’ll be surrounded by the stunning Michelangelo masterpieces that have adorned a million picture postcards—including the nine central panels of the chapel ceiling, each depicting a tale from Genesis (the most famous being The Creation of Adam).
Stop 3: Train Ride from Stazione San Pietro
Next, you’ll board a train right in the Vatican City for the approximately hour-long ride through the Roman countryside to the 17th-century Castel Gandolfo (which was only opened to the public in 2015, after Pope Francis declined to use the estate as a summer residence).
Stop 4: Castel Gandolfo
Once you’ve arrived in the quaint town on Albano Laziale, where Castel Gandolfo is located, you’ll make a fascinating visit to the papal summer estate. You’ll see the lavish villa-turned museum, filled with papal artifacts; you’ll also wander among ancient Roman ruins, beautifully landscaped gardens, and the pastures and farmhouse of the property’s private farm (while listening to recorded audio commentary). Before heading back to Rome, you’ll have the chance to explore Albano Laziale and find refreshments on your own.
- Entry fees to Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and papal estate
- Round-trip train transport to Castel Gandolfo
- Special Skip-the-Line access
- Headsets and audio-guided commentary (available in English, Spanish, German, Russian, French, and Italian)
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off
Important to Know:
- Please be sure to arrive at the tour departure point 15 minutes before the starting time. Guests arriving after departure cannot be accommodated, and missed tours or tickets will not be refunded.
- Unfortunately, wheelchairs and strollers cannot be accommodated on this tour.
- A small purse or camera bag only (no backpacks or large shoulder bags). Security checks at some sites restrict the size of bags that can be brought inside.
- Clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. Entry into some sites requires adherence to these dress codes.
- Good walking shoes.