How cool it is when you purchase an item and get something for free along with it! The Vatican comes in such a package along with Rome. You bargain to see one country and this tiny country comes along without demanding an extra visa or tickets or payment, well, except for the entry fee at the museum. So whether or not you care for this addendum, you go for it, because you cannot possibly go to Rome and not drop in at the Vatican.
When we began our research about the Vatican, the recurring theme was the long queues. People try to beat the crowds by landing up early in the morning or late in the afternoon (but not so late that you don’t time to see the museum and Church). Since Mondays are crowded after the Sunday-off and Wednesdays is when the Pope attracts crowds on account of the appearance he makes in public, some smart travelers try to visit on a Tuesday or Thursday. The bottom line, however, is that no matter what you do, expect a long queue!!
Send a Postcard
Since the St Peter’s church remains open until later, while the Museum has more strict timings, we began with the museum. The very first thing one can do upon entering this massive building is to send a postcard to a loved one. Pick up a postcard of your choice, get stamps worth a couple of euros depending on the destination, write your message and drop it in in the Poste Vaticane postbox! We sent two postcards back home, one to each of our parents.
Bide Time Till You Reach the Sistine Chapel
While the Vatican museum has floors and floors of artefacts, paintings, tapestries, and historic relics, a lot of tourists are focused merely on seeing the Sistine Chapel. The museum has positioned things in a such a way that perforce, you have to walk through miles of everything else, before you can finally walk into the Chapel right at the end of your visit!
Listen to an Audio Guide As You Walk
Well, if you have to walk through miles of relics, you may as well know what it is you are seeing. So if you are not part of a guided tour, pick up an Audio guide at the entrance. Every time something catches your fancy, key in the numbers displayed alongside and listen to the story of the display. Be warned about getting a crick in your neck as you strain to watch paintings on the ceilings! And don’t forget to spare a thought for the artists who remained suspended up there all those centuries ago with their necks permanently turned at awkward angles. Hats off to Raphael and Michelangelo!
Get Photographs While You Can
Pictures are forbidden in the Sistine Chapel. So while you stroll (or race) through the rest of the Museum, get your travel partner to lie flat on the floor and attempt to capture you with the paintings on the cielings. Whether or not you smile when you look at these photos a dozen years later, the process of clicking them will surely amuse you enough.
Revel in Michelangelo’s Art
When you finally do reach the Sistine Chapel, try to get a place to sit on the benches that run alonside the walls. Forget about clicking pictures, just sit there with your audio guide and listen to the story of Michelangelo, the Chapel and how such a majestic creation came into existence.
And with that ends our tour de Vatican. The magnitude and proportions of the Museum can intimidate anyone. But don’t get bogged down with the responsibility of seeing everything inside. You’d rather ensure that you have plenty of fun when you visit. I hope this post will help you do just that!
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.