So Much Art We Needed a Guide

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by artslover on March 4, 2010

The Vatican Museums are so vast and so stuffed with art, both great and terrible, it is hard to get value out of a visit by wandering pointlessly and unfortunately, there are no helpful written signs by the multitude of works. You can buy an audio guide, but we have found that a personally guided tour helps to tailor the visit to our interests and also provides an opportunity to interact with a knowledgeable local. We had really enjoyed the Context Rome tour of the Vatican Museums before but were unable to book with them this time. Instead, we booked with the Institute of Design and Culture and were given a tour by one of IDC’s founders, Dr. Laura Fusche.

IDC describes their tours as courses. The Vatican Museums course is called Saints, Sinners and Superstars and begins with a discussion of the Renaissance: what was it? when did it take place? what factors provoked the changes in thinking and seeing that we call the Renaissance? This provides the background for the story of the great artworks produced in this era. The focus is on the art patron, Pope Julius II, a formidable Renaissance power broker who hired Raphael to paint his private apartments and Michelangelo to embellish the Sistine Chapel. This provided the theme as we looked at the ancient art Pope Julius II collected and the "modern" paintings he commissioned. We visited the main highlights in the Vatican museums, the sculpture court with famous ancient Roman statues including the Apollo Belvedere and the Laocoon, the long hallways with more ancient art, the Raphael rooms and of course, the Sistine Chapel. Along the way, Laura pointed out the innovative ways in which this pope used the visual arts to convey important messages about Rome, his papacy, and the power of the Church. We finished our trip by a visit to the Pinoteca, the painting gallery.

Our course lasted all afternoon and we learned an amazing amount even though this was my second visit. If you want something in depth, this is a wonderful tour, more like a crash university art history course. The cost is by the course, not the number of people; approximately $250 for a 2 hour course, $450 for a half day course; more for custom courses. For other tours and more information, check the website:
Vatican Museums
Viale Vaticano
Rome, Italy, 00165
0039 06 69884676

© LP 2000-2009