AD- Dark Rome Tours offered myself and my family spaces on their Vatican Skip The Line Tour in return for shares on my social media and this blog post. All photos and opinions my own.
I have just come back from my first time in Rome and it was absolutely amazing. Everywhere you looked there was more 'old stuff' to see and another ruin to be amazed by. I have always wanted to go and so when it came to decide where to go for my birthday, I instantly chose Rome!
I knew there would be places I wanted to see including the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica & the Sistine Chapel but knowing a tour would be a good way to go, I started looking around different tour companies to find the best one.
Dark Rome Tours offered the best Vatican skip the line tours and so I got in touch with them and was very kindly gifted 4 spaces. I felt very lucky indeed let me tell you and we all agreed that Egor our guide was absolutely fantastic and definitely made the whole tour more enjoyable.
Having never been to Rome previously but knowing how impressive and important the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica & The Sistine Chapel are, I wanted to have the best Vatican tours to wholly and completely understand its significance.
Dark Rome Tours
On Friday 15th November, we headed to the meeting point (the bottom of the stairs just outside the Vatican Museum). It's a popular place for all the tour groups to meet and there were several tour operators all signing in their guests and a guy running around giving everyone radios and headphones!
Our tour started at 11AM which gave us plenty of time to get up, have breakfast and find our way to the meeting point. Sadly there weren't any benches around to sit upon so we had to perch on the windowsill ledges and sit on the steps whilst we waited which was ok as it wasn't raining but if it had been it would have been pretty miserable!
We were soon called up to line up against the wall and sign in, which we did. We also met our amazing guide, Egor who would be taking us around on our Vatican tour.
I always feel that having a guide brings another element to any place you're visiting, they always have so much more knowledge than an ordinary audio guide can give you and will try their best to impart everything they know onto you.
Egor has been a tour guide in Rome for 23 years so he definitely had lots of valuable knowledge to give us. He really made the whole experience worthwhile and manageable, despite the fact the Vatican was absolutely packed with people!
Did you know that The Vatican is its own city? It has its own currency, flag, police and language. It's known as the smallest city in the world and The Vatican is actually the Pope's home, all the artwork and sculptures you see inside all belong to the Pope, so essentially, you're seeing their private collection.
One funny thing I did learn whilst there, was that one of the reasons The Colosseum looks the way it does is because of all the looting that went on! It was constantly looted for all the gold, bronze and marble which were once used to decorate it. It was only when they realised they should leave something for the Christians that all the looting stopped!
Vatican City, St Peter's Basilica & The Sistine Chapel are just absolutely stunning and are definitely worth a visit when in Rome. You just have to know that it's going to be busy all the time, you'll don't get enough time to see every single bit of artwork/sculpture or read every card because of this!
This is one of the main reasons why having a tour guide is definitely something you should look into when heading to the Vatican. Like I said, there are quite a few tour companies to choose from but from this experience I would definitely go with Dark Rome Tours again for any tours of the Vatican.
This sculpture was one of the most amazing pieces of art I saw whilst inside the Vatican. It is in fact a replica of the one that's behind glass inside the main building. It's the Virgin Mary with Jesus, by Michelangelo sculpted from ONE single piece of marble!
I mean, can you imagine how long it took him to make?! It was amazing to see it in real life and look at how detailed it is. It's also very shiny because Michelangelo polished it so much!
It was very common practice to have replicas of statues made and in some cases they helped to restore the real ones when they got damaged.
Another piece of information which Egor told us which made me laugh was why all of the male statues have fig leaves covering their genitalia! There was a law which came into effect between 1644-1655 when Pope Innocent X began chiseling the exposed phalluses off Roman statues and fitting each sculpture with a more 'modest' leaf! This continued through the reign of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878).
My Review of Dark Rome Tours
I have to say, we all thoroughly enjoyed our time with Egor and Dark Rome Tours. He really made it special and imparted so much of his knowledge to us, really bringing to life the Vatican and all of its history.
Before coming to Rome, I wasn't sure what to make of the Vatican and it's surrounding buildings, other than them being extremely significant and religious; they were definitely up there as somewhere to visit when we went.
Whilst planning our trip and knowing we wanted to visit the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica & the Sistine Chapel, preferably on a tour, it was just good fortune that I was able to work with Dark Rome Tours.
I would definitely recommened them for Vatican tours, as you definitely need someone guiding you around and giving you all of the necessary information. Plus, if you've only a short time in Rome, it just makes it easier to see all of the tourist sights without really wasting any time in queues or missing any vital information which would help to bring these amazing sights to life for you.
I can't recommened Dark Rome Tours enough if you ever find yourself in the Eternal City and are wanting to discover its beautiful sights for yourself. The Vatican Tour which I did has been voted number 1 on Trip Advisor and I can see why, everything from their customer service, to their tour guides was exceptional and the knowledge Egor imparted will stay with me for a long time.
So in conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed Rome and what it had to offer, I can't wait to go back!
Love, Sarah xoxoxo