Saturday, March 15, 2008

Musei Vaticani

Vatican Museum - Going Toward Sistine Chapel Vatican Museum - Hercules
This was our second and third time, respectively, in this museum. We were both lukewarm with this visit due to the fact that it was very crowded. Here are some words of wisdom on visiting the Vatican Museums.

+ Don’t go in the morning! Wait until noon or so. There could be a difference of a one hour wait compared to no wait. Why? Because, all the tour groups go in the morning and as well as all non-tour groups all seem to go in the morning. We went mid morning even though we read not to do it. Shame on us. Due to this or maybe unrelated, for us, the museum was unbelievably crowded. Wall to wall people on the Sistine-conga line. (I was determined to see the Raphael rooms since we’ve talked about them so much in my art class.) There are little bookshops to buy “things” every 200 yards. Honestly, it’s hard to tell if you are in an exhibit space or a bookshop half the time.

++ Don’t go to the museum thinking you will be able to take it all in at once! Not possible. Pick a section and go for it. Most people pick the Sistine chapel route which is a 2 hour conga line of people winding its way on a one way route to that chapel. Honestly, it’s better to view the Sistine chapel in pictures. Go as far as the Raphael rooms, if you must, and then backtrack and see something else. The whole museum is set up as a one-way people mover so going back to the beginning to pick a different route is hard. Just after entering the museum you have your choices of routes in the beginning.

+++ Bring or buy some kind of guide, or rent the audio tour or go on a tour. There is so little signage on anything. Okay, I’m taking about the Sistine-conga line specifically. The Raphael rooms have some placards but try getting near them. There were beautiful statues and other objects that were a mystery. (Okay, we could tell it was Hercules, but that’s about it. Not dates, not nothing.)

++++ Bring ear plugs so you don’t have to hear the guards shouting every 10 seconds “NO FLASH.” Believe me, you lose faith in humanity when people can not or refuse to follow simple instructions.

As we waited to go in the museum we were accosted with the usual: people handing out flyers to go eat something here or there, cheapo scarves, accordion music (“I’m a frito bandito…” etc.), beggars with deformities that had me gasping (like giggling, grapefruit-sized, growths on the head, really), and competitive tour companies trying to woo you out of line. Then, as we left – 1pm now and NO line, damn – you are accosted with knock-off purses, sunglasses, remote control cars, pens (a nice change from the usual), and sunglasses. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. One of the best tips I ever got about this museum was to get there when it opens and then sprint all the way to the Sistine chapel while the other groups wend there way there through other exhibits, see it quietly yourself, and then work your way backwards towards the entrance. You'll be going in the opposite direction of everyone else and miss most of the traffic.

    Hi to Marc from his old boss. :) Someone passed me a link to your blog! Congrats on living in Italy -- so excellent.

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