I recently wrote a post entitled “Rome: Top 8 Things To See and Do With Kids”. Vatican City was not on there. While it wasn’t a total disaster, it was not my girls’ favorite. We knew going into it that the Vatican might be a little weighty for them, but we haven’t been to Rome in 9 years, so we couldn’t pass it up.
We hired a private tour guide in hopes that by skipping the lines, we might be able to lure the kids in more with our swift entry. But even with a tour guide, there is no such thing as a swift entry to the Sistine Chapel. Not if you plan to spend some time in the Vatican museums. Which we did, and then some. While our guide was the nicest guy ever and highly knowledgeable on his subject matter – and we were excited to be there and soak up some of the world’s finest art – we spent a loooong time in the museums preceding the chapel. He was just doing his job, but for the kids it was an eternity. They weren’t bored the whole time – there were some statues and decorative objects that caught their eye, but we spent a considerable amount of time in the museum rooms, that by the time we got to the Sistine Chapel, it was completely anti-climatic. Instead of looking up, they were trying to play a game on the floor looking down! There were also so many people, of course, that viewing anything for them was difficult. We stayed as long as we could, but if I’m going to be honest, we walked out of there with them not having much appreciation for the famous chapel whatsoever. Maybe a little, when they heard the story behind it, but not much. It was so crowded they just wanted out. Who could blame them?
When we went into St. Peter’s Basilica afterward, it was a little different, partially because they weren’t packed in like sardines the way they were in the chapel (it is, after all, the largest church in the world), but by that time they had been at the Vatican for so long, in so many crowds, they were winding down. We got them to stay for a decent chunk of time and then, much to everyone’s delight, including our own, we left and immediately grabbed some drinks from the vendor right outside. We had been on our feet for a long time, and it was hot, and we were thirsty!
Should you visit Vatican City with your kids if you’re going to Rome? That’s totally a personal decision determined by so many factors. How old are your children and how high up on the list is it? Did you visit it recently? For us, as I mentioned, it had been many years. The adults really wanted to see it, so we decided to drag our kids along at the risk of them not enjoying or “getting” it. Who knows when we’ll be back again, and “when in Rome”. For us, I’m glad we did it, and at least the girls can look back on the photos some day…