The Vatican experience
So, we were told (and had checked in several guidebooks) that the Vatican museums opened at 8.45am, and after seeing the 3km long queue the day before, and on the advice of two girls from Holland staying at our hostel, who had said theyÓd met an American girl who had got there at 7am to be first in, we set our alarm for 6 and were waiting, plesantly surprised at our punctuality (I'm not renown for it) at 7.05 at the Vatican gates in the bitterly cold morning, 2nd in the queue. It was interesting watching the area wake up, and the hordes (literally, thousands) of tourists start to turn up to get in. At 8.15am, they started to let clump after clump of guided tours through (many who had turned up only at 8) and after 8.45 came, and went, and they were still letting hundreds of guided groups through but hadn't let us through, we questioned the guard, who replied that we weren¨t allowed in until 10am. 10AM!!!!!!!! We were guted. It meant 3 hours of waiting in the cold, which was really really freezing, and made us very concerned about getting sick. We were finally allowed in, to a foyer which looks very much like an airport terminal, with security checks and check-in points.
It was worth it. After we'd thawed, anyway. And managed to find our way through badly marked corridors to find the audio guides and the starting points (no maps available). I was rather grumpy by this stage.
However the beautiful, exqusite marble statues, Raphael's exquisite rooms entirely frescoed in brilliant vibrancy, and then the amazing Sistine Chapel, which despite being an entirely un-intimate experience (you're viewing it with 300 other noisy tourists), still made me cry with how beautiful it was.
Because we'd spent so long getting in to the museums, and had to be on a train to Pompeii, we missed out on St Peter's Basilica around the front, which I was totally gutted about, but have to live with.
So, it was an odd day. Lessons learned: go on a guided tour to the Vatican.
And wear more warm clothes in Rome in April :-)
Posted on 04 Apr 2007 by Anna