Standing in line for the Vatican isn’t on my list of fun things to do on a weekend in Rome. It is however one of the ‘must see’ things I’d like to accomplish in Rome whilst I’m here. The tall, dark foreboding walls around which we are queueing look more like a local prison than the centre of Western Christianity but I assume that they are a hangover from a previous time. The queue shuffles slowly forward.
Two hours later I am at the front, jostled by people who are now trying to push in front as we bottleneck through the narrow entrance and security checks. There are so many people milling about but soon I am following the general crowd through the various galleries of the Vatican. There are so many beautiful and interesting pieces of artwork. The corridors and rooms are crowded with them.
The main problem is that it is also crowded with people. After a couple of hours of shuffling through the labyrinthine palace I’m beginning to feel the need to cut my visit short, see the Sistine Chapel, which is the main object of my trip and then move on to something else. The crowds at this point have reached a density where it is impossible to even stop to admire something without causing a log jam. There are no short cuts and we all have to file through.
Finally, through an unlikely looking door the sign to the chapel finally yields it’s prize. The chapel itself. Crowded but as much of the artwork is on the roof it’s possible to stand still for a moment and take it in. It’s a beautiful site.
My visit was sadly spoilt but the sheer volume of people. Given the wealth in the Vatican and the price of the entry fee I’m not sure it’s necessary for them to crowd so many people into such a small space. Surely it could be better organised. It may be a case though of satisfying so many tourists who have queued to see it’s treasures.
Whilst I wouldn’t have missed seeing the glorious Sistine Chapel and ‘that picture’ in the centre of it all I probably won’t be rushing back and the rest of the artworks passed by in a blur of being jostled. I think if I did decide to go back I would try the option of buying tickets in advance and / or taking a tour which cuts through some of the queues. For now, to get a good, uncrowded view of Michaelangelo’s work I would recommend this http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/