Tuesday, October 25th
The Vatican Museums. We can I say? This was incredible. I’d received advice to get in as early as possible, and we booked a thing where we got to into the museums two hours before they opened to the general public. The first hour was taken up with breakfast, and we couldn’t leave that area until 8:00, one hour before the museums were open to the rest of the public. That one hour was enough.
One of my white whales of photography has been the spiral staircase in the Vatican Museums. I did my homework and knew right where to find it. Many thanks go to Scott Kelby for unselfishly sharing information on this that helped me make it happen. As soon as we were released, my group headed to the Sistine Chapel while I moved quickly to the gift shop at the exit. I found the staircase, bereft of people. I walked around it to look at the angles and then got my shots. I consider this a huge win for me and something I can check off my photographic bucket list.
After the staircase shot, I caught up with the family in the Sistine Chapel. They don’t allow photography in there, and there’s nothing I can say that would come close to describing the awe I felt at being inside this great hall with its incredible artwork. I mainly remember the guy standing on a platform, occasionally saying “no foto” to people who fail to heed the warning about not taking pictures.
I can’t recommend enough getting early access to the Vatican Museums. We weren’t on a guided tour; we just got in early. Since most everyone goes to the Sistine Chapel first, and we had already been there, we stayed ahead of the massive crowds for awhile. Eventually the masses caught up to us, and we were enveloped in an ocean of people. That’s how it is – it gets super busy there really fast.
Even up on the second floor, in nearly empty galleries, you just have a sense when 9:00 comes around that the museums are open to the general public. Imagine walking through the Gallery of Tapestries when you pause because something is just . . . different. They’re here. A tremendous horde of people are rushing into the building.
We spent about six hours total throughout the museums and I would go back in a second. The whole place is incredible, but if you’re curious, my favorite areas (besides the Sistine Chapel, where photography is not allowed) were the Gallery of Maps and the Raphael Rooms.
That evening we went to Santa Susanna, an American church in Rome, to see Fr. Gregory about getting our passes to the Papal Audience the next day. When he asked how many were in our group I got to bust out the “Quattro adulti, due bambini” I knew so well from the taxis. We had another fabulous dinner, and I think it was the third time I ate spaghetti alla carbonara.