The gardens have been in continual existence since Medieval times, with major rennovations and new landscapes occurring in the 16th century. They cover 57 acres and are taken care of by gardeners whose life-long love of their work is evident in the quiet beauty that surrounds you as you walk. The garden tours take about two hours, which is the perfect time to drink it all in.
But perhaps the best part comes afterward, when you are released into the Vatican Museums to wander at will, explore the miles of halls lined with tapestries and maps and mosaics and portraits and sculptures and… well, everything you could possibly want to see.
The museums began with a relatively small collection by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century and has grown to its present size of approximately miles of corridors. Yes, you read that right. With more than 50 separate galleries, and hundreds of thousands of art objects, this museum is visited by more than five million people a year. Most of them, however, will enter through the front gates after standing for hours in the line that threads its way along the outside of the wall that enclose the gardens. I’ve stood in that line. It’s not fun.
So take the Vatican Gardens Tour, skip the line, enjoy the peaceful, sparsely populated gardens with a tour guide whose job it is to keep you entertained while giving you all kinds of great history and fun facts, and then spend the rest of the day wandering the halls of the Museums on your own.
For photos of the Gardens, check out this page.
If you’re interested in booking a garden tour, see this site:
And for a book on the Gardens, see “The Vatican Gardens: An Architectural and Horticultural History” by Alberta Campbell (on Amazon).