Well, I took the “advice” and booked our tickets for the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel online, leaving us only with the burden of figuring out where and how to use the pre-booked tickets vs. the drag of waiting in a two hour line.
I had hoped that this would be a quiet week in Rome, after the recent Easter Week crowds, but the city is aswarm with tourists: Mob scene at the Pantheon (Beware of Pickpockets!). Mob scene at the Spanish Steps (no warning signs, but: Beware of Pickpockets!). Mob scene at Giolitti, where, frankly, the gelato didn’t quite meet the expectations set by the hype and the long lines. We decided that Giolitti is the Mike’s Pastry of Rome. (I would estimate that about 2/3’s of the tourists you see on the streets of the Italian North End of Boston are carrying string-tied blue and white Mike’s boxes full of cannoli. Personally, I prefer Paradiso or Caffe Vittoria.)
As it turned out, while the Sistine Chapel was pretty crowded, there were no lines, and we would have been able to breeze in, even without an online ticket.
The big excitement at the Capella Sistina was the guy who was busted for taking a picture, with a flash yet. The guards – who’d been hanging around in languid pose – jumped into action the nano-second the flash went off. And that tourist was gone…
They did not, fortunately, detect my niece sneaking a non-flash picture from her within her pocketbook.
I will also note that The Church strikes me as third only to major league sports and Disney in their ability to move the merchandise. Everywhere you turned in the Vatican Museum, you could buy something souvenir-ish and generally in decent taste – no bobble-head JP II, here.
The long lines, as it turned out, were waiting to get into St. Peter’s Basilica.
Only two security bays were open, and we had to wait about 45 minutes to get in.
My line triumph was thwarting a trio of younger-than-I (late 40’s, my estimate) Italian priests who were somewhat aggressively and obnoxiously trying to end -run the line.
I let the first guy push ahead of us as we turned a corner, but I tied with the second one. He magnanimously gestured that I should move ahead of him, and I magnanimously gestured that he should go first. Which he did. I then put a body block on number three, however, so that he would really have had to push me out of his way to get through.
Truly, it saved us about 15 seconds, but I was pretty steamed that these guys were so blithely certain that they had the divine right to push their way in, shoving people out of their way who’d been waiting longer.
Now, if the Vatican wants to run a special line for nuns and priests, I’m all for it. They work for the company, perk of the job, etc.
But if they’re just part of the great unwashed like the rest of of us…And if you’re younger than I am…. (I would not have body blocked a geezer priest.) Tough ya!
St. Peter’s was, of course, well worth the wait.
What a tribute to man’s ability to build. Amazing that, in the fifteen-hundreds, the Church was able to erect such a magnificent structure.
As cathedrals go, I lean more towards the gothic, and prefer gray stone and a rose window to the haute Renaissance gold and marble. Still…
I was disappointed that there did not appear to bee any place to light a candle. (Sorry, Ma!) At least they didn’t have the awful electric “candles”. I accept no substitutes.