Easter in Rome: Touring the Vatican Museum
Right, so hands up, this was my monumental f**k-up on two occasions that almost made us miss our scheduled tour of the Vatican Museums. We were up and awake with plenty of time, sampling the wonderful pastries silently dropped into the shared kitchen by our hotel, Residenzia Belli Inn, when we thought we’d left with plenty of time. In my infinite wisdom, I google mapped it to “Vatican City” without registering the sheer size of the place, especially with it being the smallest state in the world!
We arrived with plenty of time to spare at St Peters Square to find our meeting point with City Wonders was on the other side of the Vatican (coincidentally, near the Vatican Museum entrance - who would have thought?).
With only a short amount of time to get around the perimeter before the tour was set to depart, we endured a very quick march in the early morning Roman heat to find our destination. Stress-levels through the roof and patience virtually nil, we found the group and immediately signed in with the tour guide. Yet, acting in accordance with my Taurus star sign, I charged off like a bull in a china shop, following the rest of the group as they departed around the corner.
It only became apparent when queueing to get into the Vatican Museum entrance that we had red City Wonders stickers and everybody else had grey. Lo and behold, the guide confirmed that we were in the wrong group and to wait for the follow-up group to arrive. After an anxious wait vividly scanning the faces coming through the security screens, likely with the face of a deranged maniac, I finally recognised our guide and duly retrieved our entrance tickets.
With blood pressure running as normal once again, we made our way up to the Cortile della Pigna, also known as the Pine Cone Courtyard, home to the Fontana della Pigna, a Roman fountain originally located near the Temple of Isis, before being moved to its current location in 1608. Here, we also checked out the Lions of Nectanebo, dating back to 360-343 BC. This set the tone for what was an incredibly fascinating tour, from checking out the busts and statues of Romans Gods, Emperors and high-ranking officials to admiring the sheer grandiose architecture of the building itself. Working through the tour, we found ourselves admiring various sections such as the Octagonal Court, famous for its antique classical statues such as the River God of Arno and made a mental note to watch Borgia’s on Netflix after witnessing the beauty of the apartments.
Of course, the Sistine Chapel was at the front of our priority list and we continued to meander through the corridors following the crowds, taking in the stunning decor throughout the building and admiring many of the wonderful tapestries adorning the wall, such as The Resurrection of Christ.
I’m not the best in crowds, I never have been and that meme about punching slow walking people on the back of the head sprung to mind on a couple of occasions! Preferring to enjoy the tour than sparking a group brawl in this most holy residence, I stayed typically British with a stiff upper lip and finally reached the Sistine Chapel.
What a place. As you walk into the Chapel, you’re ushered in by staff and continuously reminded to stay quiet and
NOT take any photos. Unfortunately this was ignored by a considerable amount of people, but with the beauty of the room, I can kind of understand why. Renaissance art graces the walls and ceiling at all angles, depicting the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ. I couldn’t help but feel the sheer history of the place and marvel at the artwork over 500 years old. There’s no doubt in my mind that if you get the opportunity, it’s a must-do for any traveller.
With the main event of the tour complete and a healthy hunger built up, we made our way out of the museum with a view to heading back around to St Peter’s Square. Attempting to keep away from the restaurants on the main stretch likely to bump up the bill, we found an excellent establishment by the name of Taverna Angelica, located on Piazza Amerigo Capponi 6. After receiving a warm welcome from the host, this fat boy quickly devoured a stunning Pasta Carbonara with all thoughts on the next stop on our tour; St Peter's Square!