When we planned our trip to Italy last year, one of the key influencing factor was to experience Christmas in Vatican! Having seen the midnight mass on television, we made sure that we would be present in St Peter’s Square for Vatican Christmas mass.
Vatican city is one of the important check boxes for anyone travelling to Italy. It is vast and one needs at least few days to explore it fully. But we did not have the luxury of time. We had one day for Vatican and the best thing to do in such situations is to go for a day tour with a local agency. We booked a tour through Walks of Italy
Christmas in Vatican is solemn occasion of celebration. One can’t call it a grand affair. In fact, the Christmas in Rome itself was very subdued than in other European cities. When we checked with few Romans why this was so, the answer was that most Italians would like to spend the day with their families.
Join us on our experience of Christmas in Vatican through these lovely pictures.
We take metro from our hotel to the stop indicated by the day tour agency. We are to be there by 8 AM which means we have to leave our hotel by 6.30 when it is still dark. Italy is coffee lovers paradise and these small coffee shops open as early as 5.30 AM! We never tasted a bad coffee in Italy. This is the reason why Starbucks hasn’t been able to made any head way in the country.
Brinda with her Cuppa at 6.30 AM!!
We take the metro and reach the nearest station as mentioned in the guide for the walking tour. We walk from the station to the assembly point which is just five minutes. We walk through row of shops decked up for Christmas with many of them giving Christmas offers to shoppers. We reach well in time for us to grab some breakfast before we start. We go to a nice cafe and order for Croissants and Coffee – typical Italian Breakfast!
The first glimpse of Vatican City! Fortified and mysterious!
This is the assembly area. A central place which also doubles as bus stop for local buses as well as tourist buses’ drop off point. We are checked and confirmed by the tour agency and we follow the guide.
We walk for five minutes along the fort wall to reach the main entrance. There is a heavy rush of tourists who have come to experience Christmas in Vatican like us. They are standing in the queue for buying the tickets. This is one great advantage of going with an agency which we strongly recommend. You will skip the queue as the agency would have picked up all tickets in advance.
We are ushered inside by the guide and wait at reception area before the guide could get all of us validated. The reception lounge is chaotic with many groups and people who are waiting in the queue to buy tickets.
We go on one of the steepest and longest escalators to reach the huge quadrangle. Our tour of Vatican is to start here. It covers Vatican Museum, magnificent Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica. Andrea, our guide is knowledgeable and genial. We follow her.
The first stop is awe-inspiring Vatican Museum. Checking out the museum in detail requires days. We did this in two hours! Vatican museum requires a separate post. We will do that soon.
We finish Vatican Museum and also Sistine Chapel. Photographs are not allowed inside Sistine Chapel. A guided tour of the place takes place in batches. This is the best part of the Vatican. The genius of Micheal Angelo can be seen here. Here are two pictures we downloaded from internet just for your information.
After Sistine Chapel, our next stop is St Peter’s Basilica. The world’s largest church! It is grand and awesome! You need hours to explore this beautiful building. The sculptures, the paintings and the elegance of architecture has to bee seen to be believed. It reminded us of the grand monuments we have in India. This is the place where the Pope leads Vatican Christmas Mass!
We all follow the line and move towards the altar. Chairs are arranged for midnight mass in the church which can hold 60,000 people at a time!
The altar is magnificent! Notice the lovely floor!
The sculptures on the side walls!!
We bid good bye to our guide Andrea. She shows us this small stone bowl which holds sacred water. We dip your hand and spray the water on your head.
We exit the basilica and notice the ornate doors….
We are now entering St Peter’s square. A huge public square which Italy is famous for. Chairs are arranged for mid night mass.
The top of the buildings have lovely statues of various saints
Everyone captures this picture! The Swiss guard of Vatican!
A Panoramic shot of St Peter’s square
The promenade of the square. It has shops on the either side.
The Egyptian Obelisk which adorn the centre of the square.
We leave St Peter’s square after a nice Italian lunch in one of the restaurants. We walk through lovely streets to reach our metro station.
We came back in the evening for Christmas mass in St Peter’s square which is shown on large television screens. It was a once in a life time chance to be there is cold December winter and witness the mass!
The experience of Christmas in Vatican is something we cherish. It was a solemn and wonderful experience.
- Vatican city is one of the most visited places in the world. It is vast and need many days for exploration for someone who is interested.
- For anyone who does not have time, we strongly recommend day tours by a good agency. We went with Walks of Italy which is very good and professional.
- We strongly advise to go with day tours with good agency. It helps in beating the queue for getting tickets to Vatican as well as you will have someone who will explain all about the place.
- If you have time, you can spend at-least three days exploring Vatican city and its various monuments.
- If you are planning to attend Vatican Christmas eve mass in St Peter’s Basilica, you have to apply to Vatican authorities well in advance. You have to download a form, print it, fill it in hand and fax it to them. No emails. We did this but unfortunately we were late. We applied in mid November. Ideally, you should apply six months in advance if you want to be there. Vatican authorities are very prompt and you will get a response in normal post or snail mail. Here is the link for applying for Vatican Christmas Eve Mass tickets – https://theromanguy.com/italy-travel-blog/christmas-eve-mass-at-the-vatican-tickets/
- If you don’t get tickets to sit inside the basilica for the Vatican Christmas Mass or Christmas Eve Midnight mass as it is known, you can go to St Peter’s square early in the evening and get a seat and watch it on giant television screens and experience the yuletide spirit! Cover yourself well with woollens as December nights in Italy are cold!
- Vatican has a good souvenir shop. You may pick up some souvenirs here.
We thank you for stopping by Travel Twosome and checking out this post on Christmas in Vatican. We hope you liked it. We would like to hear your comments and feedback and your experience if have visited Vatican.
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