I'd been to the Vatican Museum a couple of times in the past: once as a teenager when my parents took the whole family to Europe, and then again when I was in college, on a month-long art course to Italy.
Both times we went to see the Sistine Chapel to experience the genius of Michelangelo. Only recently did it dawn on me that the Vatican Museums consists of five different collections housed in a series of apartments, chapels and palaces. I didn't pay attention to that distinction then and unfortunately aside from the Sistine Chapel, I didn't remember anything else.
Fast forward a few years (okay, okay, a few decades) later and another visit to the museums at the Vatican. With a more mature outlook this time, and in particular, an eye (and appreciation) for detail, I was overwhelmed with all the interior details that all seemed to be jumping out at me all at once. I had my jaw on the floor.
The mosaic floors in the different buildings were stunning. I just kept staring at them, trying to imagine the design process that went into creating the images, and then marveling at the craftsmanship of execution. All this exquisite detail was created without the aid of any computers. Nowadays, it's so simple to convert a photo into a mosaic pattern. Anyone who has the patience can be an "artist". But then I think that is the difference between just a pretty image and one that has soul.
Back to reality and my practical side-- how do they keep the floors in great shape and so nice looking? Can you imagine the thousands of people who walk on them every single day? (now I'm definite that this thought would have never crossed my young mind decades ago!) I can't even manage to keep my front entrance tiles as clean as they should be.
Not all the mosaic floors are done in tesserae, many are also made of what looked like tumbled marble. But they were still incredibly ornate.
Next time you're at the Vatican museums, resist the urge to keep looking up towards the ceilings and make it a point to look down. You will appreciate the art that lies just beneath your feet!