Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel

We awoke to a very cloudy day that soon turned into a heavy thunderstorm.  So we used that excuse for a late start and lounged around for a few hours in the morning!

After a short stroll to St. Peter's Square, we looked around for a while, marveling at the long lines to get into the basilica.  Then we went around the corner to the Vatican Museums, where we had a reserved ticket for a guided tour.  Again, we marveled at the huge long lines to get into the Museum - why do people not plan better?!  There are now about a billion resources that will tell you to prebook your tickets or come right at opening time - they will give you step-by-step instructions on how to avoid the long lines.  And yet, all these people were prepared to wait well over an hour - I just don't get it...

On the other hand, our guide seemed to be a thwarted Italian actress and the 3 hour tour of the Vatican Museums was hurried in spots where we would linger, and lingered excessively in spots that seemed to be rather mundane.  Suffice to say that the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel were lovely and well worth it.  I was a little worried that we would be herded through the latter at a brisk pace (which would not have been surprising, considering how crowded the whole museum was).  But we weren't at all - we found some seating on the side and gazed up at the ceiling for a long time.

The payoff for the tour was the ability to take the right side exit from the Sistine Chapel (supposedly just reserved for group tours although no one seemed to be checking due to the sheer volume of people going through) directly into St. Peter's, bypassing the other security line and avoiding the circuitous walk around the Museums to get back to St. Peter's.  We took full advantage of this (once again, this is all laid out in vast detail on any number of websites).

Once in St. Peter's, we immediately got in a short line to head up to the dome - €5 per person if you walk all the way up, €7 per person if you take the elevator up half way.  We opted for the latter and found ourselves on the walkway inside the Basilica, and then climbed more stairs to get to the exterior terrace on top.  Lovely views and a very cool experience.

The cathedral itself was magnificent and immense.  Unfortunately, the nave was blocked off for mass, so we didn't quite get to wander everywhere we wanted to.

We ended our visit with a photo of Narisa standing on the border of two countries:

1 comment:

Leslie M said...

Clever picture of Mei! We went inside the Verona duomo today and caught part of the 16:00 mass. Stunning inside. I was not expecting it. Hope you got a peek in, too.