VATICAN CITY STATE: Visiting the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, the 2nd time around (Day 3)

On my first visit to the Vatican in 2013 (with my sisters, aunt and distant relatives), I saw the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica, but not the Vatican Museums. It was also Pope Francis’ birthday – we got to sing/greet him with the crowd as he stood up waving from the tiny, tiny window of his residence building. This time, I made sure to brave the long queues to finally witness the Sistine Chapel and other amazing works of art in the Museum. Afterwards, I weathered the rain and yet again, longer queue to get in St. Peter’s church.

After a nice (pretty sweet, literally) breakfast in Hotel Serena, I took the bus to the Vatican from Roma Termini station. It was around 7:40 am when I left, and the ride went pretty smoothly. It was an amazing feeling to step in the huge piazza of the Vatican once more!

The Vatican Museums is located on the eastern side of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a bit confusing getting there, so I asked a security guard, who pointed the shortest route to get there. Then, I joined the crowd of tourists on their way to the Museum. I really though there wasn’t going to be a long line, until I saw the end of it. Somebody said that standing in the line was not a guarantee that you’d make it to the cutoff – what a bummer! All of a sudden, a guy approached and asked if I have pre-booked tickets. He said that if not, he could help me get into the museum ahead of the long queue. It was inviting enough, so I followed him to their office on the other side of the road. I had to pay a bit more than the usual price ticket, but it’s ok, for as long as I wouldn’t have to wait the whole day in the queue. After about 5 minutes, a family came. Then, two more. And then, an Australian woman who I got to engage in a conversation with and tour with in the museum.

The road to the museum:

A few days before the trip, Jason Momoa (actor) was in the news for taking selfies and pictures in the Sistine Chapel. He was reprimanded because it was not allowed. So, I already knew that taking photos with the Sistine Chapen was a no-no. Visitors can take pictures of the other compartments though, without using flash! Otherwise, there would be a sign on the wall that it was not allowed.

The whole tour was very exciting – I have no word for how amazing the art in there was, all the sophisticated and detailed sculptured walls and ceilings and the colorful frescoes, paintings and fabric. My Australian companion and I were awed!

Even some of the floors had pretty tiles.

The whole place was “grand” – kudos to the people taking care of it and restoring it. The Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, was the last compartment in the Museum. It was an intense waiting and anticipation to finally get in there. It was also the most crowded section – with people hanging around – either standing or sitting on the side benches. I also saw a funny painting of a guy in light red robe showing his bottom on the painted ceiling – I have no idea what it meant, but thought that it was funny. Some people even say that it’s God’s. Google it 🙂

As mentioned above, photography was not allowed in the Sistine Chapel. So no pictures of it on this blog entry. But you’ll find many articles online showing photos of the interior and the of the ceiling itself.

There’s museum shop by the exit, and a grand spiral staircase. While we were touring the museum, my Australian companion and I got to share stuff about our lives. The twist was not sharing contact details after. It had happened to me many times during my solo travels in the past – people sharing their lives and that’s it. And I think it’s beautiful. 🙂

By 11am, we were out of the Museum building. My Australian friend for the day left to meet her family in the city, while I decided to stay for a while longer.

I sat under one of the huge, shiny pillars of St.Peter’s Square and wrote postcards. I’m glad now that the Vatican Post van was reliable enough.

Seeing the long queue, I though that I’d just drop the Basilica. But then, I changed my mind, thinking that it’s probably the last time I’d be in the Vatican. So I walked to the end of the line. Shortly afterwards, it started to rain. The crowd stood their ground though. The line moved slower, but with a lot of patience and determination – I made it to the security booth and in to the most famous church building in the world.

Everything inside was so bright and gold. It was a divine experience to stand there once more.

Before exiting the church, I bought a rosary, some bookmarks and bracelets from the visitor shop – which allowed guests in batch. That also took some time.

A gave the piazza one final look, and then walked to the bus stop and headed back to the hotel.

The skies were heavy and gray in the afternoon, and it was raining before and during the bus trip. Luckily, I didn’t get sick. As it was June 2022 and a bit post-COVID, wearing surgical masks in the museum and in public transportation was still imposed in Italy.

I bought pizza in the nearby restaurant and stayed indoors the rest of the afternoon, writing postcards and videocalling with my husband. What a day! I felt blessed and grateful for the opportunity and the experience, though.

Anyway, this is all for Day 3 in Italy. 🙂 #spreadloveandpositivevibes



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