The Vatican Museums

When you are travelling, expect the unexpected. For example, today, I was walking in the street trying to find this Piazza. As I was walking past one of the residential buildings, something fell, hit my head, and then fell on my arm. It was a glob of bird poop (at least I hope it was). Now, this wasn’t one of those a-bird-flies-over-your-head-and-drop poop. Oh no, it was a huge chunck that must have been sitting on the edge of the poach sticking out of the building, and it just decided to fall when I was walking past the building (or someone very well could have been cleaning…). Useful tip: when walking in the street, wear a hat. I was wearing a cap at that time so none of the glob got on my hair. It didn’t smell, thank goodness, and it didn’t take that long to clean up once I used two of my tourist map and water from those small water supply thing you can find anywhere in Italy.

I took the subway first to Piazza Popolo, which has a number of big churches. But I wasn’t really in the mood for visiting another church after all the ones I have been into. So I went on the subway again after taking a few pictures and headed for the Vatican Museums. So far every travel guide I read told me that the line to get into the museum could be nasty long, and it’s advised for people to go in the afternoon after all the tourist groups have left (for some reason tourist group always visit the Vatican in the morning). Before going into the museums, I went to have lunch at a nearby place, where I ordered the aperitivo – the buy one drink and get buffet thing. Well, I found out that in Rome, you only get one round of food, so it’s really not a buffet. A little disappointed, but at least the food wasn’t bad.

After lunch, I got into the line, which actually wasn’t bad at all, as it was moving pretty quickly and I got into the museum in about 15 minutes. I bought the ticket for reduced price by showing my student ID, but was unable to rent an audio guide phone because I didn’t have any identification required (passport, driver’s license) so I got a guide book from the bookstore instead. I also sent a couple of postcards from the Vatican post office inside the museum (there’s another one in St. Peter’s Square).

At this time, there were still a lot of tourist groups going into the museums. I did manage to find places next to statutes or famous paintings to read the descriptions of them in the guide, which was really helpful. Walking past the octagonal courtyard, the animal room, the room of muses, the map gallery, and all the other rooms that I could not remember, I finally reached the Sistine Chapel. As expected, it was full of people. I found a seat at a bench at the corner of the chapel, and started reading about the frescos on the wall. Throughout my reading, I kept hearing the guards in the chapel shouting “no photos” or “no pictures” or shushing people. I admit that I did have the temptation to snap a shot of the ceiling, and since I was sitting in the very corner, I am pretty sure that the guards wouldn’t notice. But seeing how hard they were shouting for every 2 or 3 minutes or so, and thinking that’s their job for every single day, I kept my camera in my bag. Michelangelo really is a genius though.

After the Sistine Chapel, which took quite a while, I continued to walk through the rest of the rooms, only to realize that I did not see another famous fresco – the School of Athens by Raphael. Determined to find it (it’s not like I get to come to Italy every now and then), I walked into the museums from the start again, and finally found the sign the directed toward the Room of Raphael just before entering the Sistine Chapel. It was worth walking through the museums again.

Coming out of the museum, it was almost 6 pm. I took the subway back to the hostel, had dinner, and started packing, as my flight to Casablanca is at 9 am. With the recommended time of arriving at the airport 1 hour before take-off and the half hour to get from Termini station to the airport, I have to get up at 6 am. Hopefully everything goes well tomorrow.

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