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VIP Access Vatican Mosaic Studio Tour

  • Group Size:
    Group Size: Max 6
  • Language:
    Language: English
  • Duration:
    Duration: 2 hrs
  • Start:
    Start: 8:00 AM
  • Price:
    Price: From 104 €
  • Cancelation:
    Cancellation: Free Cancellation*

Tour Overview

Discover the inner processes of the 16th century Vatican Mosaic Studio as you observe the best artists in the field, assembling the works piece by piece. Then head to St. Peter’s Basilica itself to admire the massive mosaics (amongst other masterpieces) with your Vatican expert.

Tour Highlights

  • The Vatican Mosaic Studio
  • St. Peter’s Square
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • La Pietà of Michaelangelo

What's included

  • Expert English-speaking tour guide
  • Private access to Vatican City
  • A small group of 6 or fewer
  • Exclusive pass to the Vatican’s Mosaic Studio
  • Opportunity to purchase exquisite one of a kind Mosaics

What you’ll See Along the Way

The Vatican Mosaic Studio

The workshop that created the almost 108,000 square feet of mosaic splendor inside St. Peter’s Basilica still exists and is very much in use today. In fact, it's only thanks to the Vatican Mosaic studio that Rome has become one of the three main cities of the mosaic in Italy, surpassed only by Venice and Ravenna. On this tour you’ll get a backstage pass to the workshop to see firsthand how the intricate marvels are made, led by a papal stoneworker. The studio atmosphere is perhaps a bit more modest than you’d expect – no frills are necessary when quality work is done.

St. Peter’s Square

Right in the center of Bernini’s Renaissance piazza stands an ancient 82-foot tall Egyptian obelisk of red granite, which was placed here long before the square itself was built. It is alleged that Caligula had the gargantuan needle shipped from Egypt to Rome in 37 AD to adorn the Circus of Nero – an ancient chariot racing stadium, which was located adjacent to where Peter's Square now lays. Cruelly, Nero’s circus also had mass executions of Christians on its repertoire and it was in the shadow of the towering obelisk that the Apostle Peter was crucified, making it a hugely important landmark for the faithful.

St. Peter’s Basilica

If you thought the size of the Vatican Museums was overwhelmingly spectacular, St. Peter’s Basilica takes the “wow factor” to another level. The sheer capacity of the interiors is enough to leave any visitor searching for words to describe its vastness. At 613 feet long, 85 feet wide and 147 feet high, it took an incredible 120 years to build, starting from 1506. Admire Michelangelo’s unparalleled Pietà masterpiece and stroll towards the center right nave to observe Bernini’s 30-foot high bronze Baldachin, which sits directly atop the site of St. Peter’s tomb.

Michelangelo's Pietà

When Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpt the Pietà, he arrogantly vowed that it would be “the most beautiful work in marble Rome has ever seen.” A lot to live up to for a young and inexperienced sculptor, but Michelangelo’s creation did not only meet the expectations – it exceeded them! Everyone was astonished by the achievement; in less than two years, the 25-year-old artist had indeed carved the most remarkable sculpture ever made from of a single block of marble. The sculpture soon gained world fame and pilgrims would travel to the Vatican from all around the globe to behold the incredible masterpiece.

Tour Summary Get in the Know

Exclusive Vatican Adventure Off the Beaten Track

Even at a destination as popular as the Vatican, we strive to offer our guests unforgettable, exclusive experiences beyond the beaten track. As one of only a few selected tour companies, What a Life Tours have got special access to take our guests behind the scenes, to a venue where few tourists go – the Vatican Mosaic Studio. You’ll be given special badges to pass the Swiss Guards and make your way to observe the best artisans of the mosaic world (in action!) and explore the 16th-century workshop together with a Vatican representative.

Of course, we’ll want to put your new knowledge to good use! To admire the most masterful of the mosaics in person, you will end your Vatican visit with a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. Stroll right past the lines and straight to some of the most prized art masterpieces in the world. With 110,000 square feet to examine, you’ll truly be amazed at the sheer mass and quality of it all. Get the best facts and insight on all of the essential highlights, including Bernini’s bronze Baldachin and Michelangelo’s Pietá, with one of the Vatican’s own expert guides.

Get a “Backstage Pass” to the Vatican Mosaic Studio

Initially set up by Pope Gregorio XIII in 1576, the Vatican Mosaic Studio gathered the finest in the field to maintain the massive stone-laden walls in St. Peter’s Basilica (that’s right, those gigantic masterworks aren’t paintings, they are mosaics!). Over the years the studio has expanded beyond restorations and repairs and – nowadays – micromosaics are pieced together daily. We’ll have the pleasure of following along and learning how the stunning works are made, from start to finish. Restorers in white lab coats concentrate intensely, cutting and carving colorful stones, arranging elaborate images, and sticking them together with an interesting plaster recipe that has been used for generations: oil and wine.

The downsized mosaics produced in the workshop are available to be ordered and shipped to art lovers around the globe. One modest neighbor, Pope Francis himself (yes, he actually lives just next door!), has become quite a regular of theirs, known for gifting these intricate mini-editions to his most esteemed Vatican guests – including the former U.S. President, Barack Obama! Though fitting décor for The White House, these original Vatican mosaics would be the perfect piece for anyone’s mantle, as well as an extraordinary souvenir.

An in-depth look at St. Peter’s Basilica

We’ll end the Vatican adventure with a comprehensive St. Peter’s Basilica tour. Our route brings us to this world-famous shrine through a private back entrance – so we can avoid the lines completely! This is excellent news as we aim to spend the whole of the hour filling you in on the rich art and history held within the towering walls. Analyze the incredible mosaics (with all of your newfound knowledge) in the most stunning ambiance – laid between enormous marble columns, surrounded by gilded ornaments, and illuminated by a combination of classic chandeliers and natural light streaming in through the 290 windows of the basilica. There’s no better way to see them!

You’ll also have a chance to see other must-sees – including Bernini’s bronze Baldachin altar and the incredible basilica dome designed by Michelangelo. While we’ll have to admire his dome from the ground up (452 feet up!), we will get up close and personal with the artist’s most moving marble sculpture, the Pietá – an absolutely iconic stone depiction of Mary cradling Jesus’ lifeless body in her arms. With our savvy cicerone at your side, you’ll get all of the most interesting facts and gossip about the many artists who contributed to this holy sanctuary.

if you have any questions about the trips, see our FAQ. LEARN MORE

VIP Access Vatican Mosaic Studio Tour

What our Customers say...

Best Tour Guide in Rome!

In all of Rome, there cannot be a better tour guide than Marcello. He is so knowledgeable and personable, it’s just amazing. We had a great time with him and he provided an outstanding level of humor and professionalism. I cannot recommend him enough.”

Mosaic School Tour

Lucia was excellent! My friends wanted to visit, but wanted it quick. I had already visited the Mosaic School. I appreciated her answering all our questions, and making the tour very personal. Lucia had a great breadth of knowledge and still made it relatable.”

Vatican Mosaic Tour

Thank you for providing a FANTASTICO tour with the mosaic tour. It was an experience which provided endless goosebumps. Our guide was so thoughtful and informative. We would recommend this to anyone with 5 stars. AN OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME”

Special Access Mosaic School

Carlotta was a wealth of information and entertaining at the same time. She is a rare find in the tourist industry! Committed to a depth of knowledge that most don’t have or know how to share well. We felt lucky to have her as our guide!”

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