A grey, rainy day in December, we found ourselves roaming Rome. Multiple umbrellas later (p.s do not buy the umbrellas from the guys on the streets; they break within minutes!!!) Jason and I arrived at the Vatican museum.
There infront of you stands the Vatican and St.Peters Basilica. An amazing sight to be seen whether you’re religious or not. Many moons of history are to be found in this building. Then you see the hoards of tourists and that amazing feeling of awe disappears quite rapidly when people start barging you out of the way.
To the right hand side of St.Peters Square is where all the tours congregate. Many hagglers here trying to get your money from you so if you already have tickets like Jason and I did; then you won’t need to waste any time here. You’ll follow the building round to the right hand side, pass the Swiss Guards Courtyard, follow the wall around and here is where you’ll walk through the main entrance.
With a wet coat on my back (not as waterproof as anticipated), and SERIOUSLY wet socks (HATE wet socks); you can imagine my mood wasn’t ecstatic, but hey, life gives you lemons. The security officers are insane; it was like they were in a military camp. People shouting everywhere and of course tourists not paying attention. I thought December would be quiet. NOPE. Very, very wrong. It wasn’t all that bad though, after all; we were in one of the most phenomenal cities of the world.
Since pre-booking my tickets online; I had to visit the kiosks to the left to get actual ticket stubs. Up the stairs and up the escalator. And there we were. The very beginning of the Vatican Museums. We took a right and started our time constricted tour. We entered around 3pm which had given us time to see a few of Rome’s other touristy hot spots. But the problem with a 3pm slot is that the museums close not too much after that. I think we definitely could have spent the whole day in here (maybe two) so we missed some very important things, but we made the best of what we had time wise.
Gallery of Maps (Galleria della Carte Geografiche) – does anybody really warn you about the hoards of tourists? I find it fascinating that in a place of worship; people can still be so aggressive. I remained calm and let people pass, but if you aren’t a fan of crowds then do your research and find out when the low time occurs in Rome (if there is one).
There is one image in the slideshow above of the map of Sardinia. Significant to me because this is where my pops was born and raised. I have a big Italian family there, and lots of Cocco’s (not a very common name in the U.K or U.S.A).
Sardinia is known for the sea; its crystal blue waters that are just irresistible, the Nuraghi and their folk culture is very important to them. I’m very proud to have Sardinian blood.
Continuing through the Gallery of Maps, there is something to look at everywhere you turn. The architecture is admirable; considered that it was commissioned in 1580. It took Dante three years to create the 40 panels in the 120m long gallery. Extraordinary work.
Don’t underestimate the Vatican, there is so much to see so make sure you allow plenty of time. We only had a few hours so we got a good understanding of some areas of the museums, so I definitely need to go back. Our tickets cost €16 each. Really not a bad price considering the amount of history you can see.
With so much artwork and history to offer, make a check list of the areas you MUST-SEE. It is exactly what I did. The main focus are the Vatican Museums; the Sistine Chapel and St.Peter’s Basilica.
My list ;
Giuseppe Momo’s Helical Staircase (didn’t get to see this)
Sistine Chapel (Check)
Gallery of Maps (Check)
Sala Rotonda (didn’t get to see this)
Papal Throne (didn’t get to see this)
Raphael’s Rooms (Check)
St Peter’s Basilica (Check)
Be really choosey. As few as the list may seem, we still didn’t get to see all of the above.
No low cut tops, sleeveless tops, shorts, miniskirts or hats. Pretty standard when visiting a place of religion, as a sign of respect. I’ve come across this rule in many european churches and cathedrals.
More tips on what you can and can’t do can be found here. This website is where I booked my tickets. I’ve personally found from past experiences that booking tickets through the actual source is the most valued cost, most of the time anyway.
Be sure to check out my Roaming Rome article which takes you on a walking guide through the town to many of the most famous sites known to tourists.
“Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city”ANATOLE BROYARD