Too often I have heard parents lament that cajoling their children through a cultural site is like getting them to visit the dentist: a chore and a necessary evil, but certainly not fun. So we set ourselves the challenge of creating a guided visit of the Vatican highlights that will leave your children asking: “Which tour is next?”
Here’s what we came up with.
No Tired Feet
Our Vatican tours are a great way to beat the queues. As one of the most visited sites in Rome, the line to buy tickets can last for hours in high season. By the time you and your family reach the museum and basilica, everyone is foot sore and resistant to any new experience.
So the first thing we offer on our Vatican tours is a set of pre-booked tickets that you’ll collect when you meet your guide. This ensures that everybody sets off on the right foot, and that youngsters in particular start their Vatican exploration with fully charged batteries.
No Brain Overload
As the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican is one of the richest sources of culture, history and architecture in Europe, and is home to some of the most iconic Renaissance art in the world. While this makes it a perfect place to engage young impressionable minds, it also raises the risk of overwhelming short attention spans.
Our guides are intimately acquainted with the floor plan of the Vatican’s museums, and they can make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of aimless and tedious wandering. The sheer size and scope of the collections – there are over four miles of corridors and galleries – can take a first- time visitor by surprise, so we can’t overstate how important it is for families to have some guidance.
My guides and I also firmly believe that more is not always better: a painstaking visit of the Vatican’s collections is likely to backfire with children. We have carefully chosen a selection of highlights that give everyone the richest experience possible without overloading the senses.
Bringing History to Life
A physical visit to a historical site is an ideal opportunity to bring art and culture to life for young minds. When we designed our Vatican tours, we were determined that this opportunity would never be squandered.
Renaissance art and history are treasure troves of myths and love stories, heroes and heroines, blood and gore, money and intrigue. When we take children around the Vatican, we dwell on the passions and human interest behind the artefacts – an approach that has proven successful in inspiring our younger guests.
Our Vatican tours position the highlights through the eyes of a child.
St Peter’s Basilica
Let your child’s imagination take off when our guides introduce them to St Peter’s Basilica by comparing its size to the dimension of no less than 2 football fields!
The Laocoön Statue
While your children stand in front of this ancient and evocative statue, witnessing the agonised contortions of Laocoön and his sons as they thrash in vain against the giant sea serpent, you’ll see their eyes grow big as saucers as a guide describes the gruesome story of this priest from ancient Greece and his unfortunate offspring.
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling
If your children think that half an hour spent on homework is an injustice on an international scale, our guides will give them something to put that unfairness into perspective. We’ll tell them about how Michelangelo was forced to take on the arduous task of painting the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, and how it took him 4 years of lying on his back with plaster falling into his eyes to complete it – the worst part is that he never wanted to work on it in the first place!
These are just a few of the highlights that we can share with your family. The stories and fun facts are endless as we encounter icons such as the Apollo del Belvedere statue, the Gallery of Tapestries, the Gallery of Maps and Bernini’s masterpiece in the square outside the basilica.
Prepare in Advance
We’ve found over the years that familiarity is another guaranteed route to your child’s heart and mind. Before you travel to Rome, it’s a valuable investment of your time to use books and videos to introduce your tribe to some of the art that they’ll be seeing in the Vatican. Pay attention to what seems to capture their attention, and be sure to let us know before we meet up. We can make sure that your guide will include some of your children’s favourites on the visit.
Booking one of our organised Vatican tours enables you to eliminate the stress that city visits can generate. With us, the children can focus on the awesome art and architecture of one of the most important historical sites in Western Civilisation.
Some of the Practical Stuff
Duration: 3 hours
Dates & Times: 1 January to 31 March: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9:45am
1 April to 31 October: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9:45am
Suitable For: Children, Art History Lovers, Museum Lovers and History Buffs
Included: Reserved tickets for entry to the Vatican
Sign up your family to join one of our inspiring Vatican tours on your next visit to Rome. Book your tickets here.