Art, sin, redemption… all in God’s city
Sunday, this Sunday to us is so much different than the others. Not only because we are in Rome, but we are going to THE CHURCH and THE MUSEUM of God in Vatican city.
First of all, disclaim here, we actually ended up being in there for two days! it’s quite a battle and intense in every level, but if you ask me is worth it? I would have no doubt answer you “hell yeah, it’s! “let me share with you our story and tips to Vatican city:
Our first visit was on the “last Sunday of the month”, which is the free entry fee day, The crowd was crazy! Before the visit, I was joking to my love, saying maybe people would not get up so early to go to church or museum these days, and that was the impression that we got to every other tourist attraction: if we got early we could get away with beating the crowd. BUT this is not the case of Vatican city, folks!
As a thorough internet planner I did see some suggestion from Roma mentioning the best visiting time is on Saturday since Sunday usually will host events, or free entry days, and the common church Sundays. I still choose to go see it on Sunday, just want to know if we may get away in low season time… And the answer is still NO! we arrived at about 9 am, it’s already long lines both sides (St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican museum), we chose to see museum first since the free Sunday only open to 2 pm!
Let me take a breath here… even now I think of the line, I sweat myself off… it’s longer than any other major attraction in Rome, in general, walk from St.Peter Basilica to Vatican museum will take up to 10 mins, it’s about 800m you can say so. however, on the free Sunday the line already up to the church, so basically we waited in line for this 800m, and it took us about 1 hr to get to the entrance. The line move actually pretty fast, since no need to buy the ticket, all visitors just need to pass through the security checkpoint.
TIP: Do not buy any ticket from any street vendor claims you can get fast pass whatsoever! IT’S a SCAM. Don’t believe it. all visitors at free Sunday has no privilege, no matter who you are, we saw many religious groups, pilgrims, school tours, everyone was waiting in line. even the official website on Free Sunday is not allowed to buy the tickets. we saw a lady who was scammed and lead by a shady vendor to the entrance thought she could get in early than anyone else, but the security staff were no pity on her, and turn her back immediately. Also, not only this kinda scam is very common, we encountered something very bad, a couple tried to cut off the line many times until the museum security staff noticed it and called them out severely. I have to say the staffs did a really good job on this to ensure everybody has a fair chance to see the museum! totally thumbs up! So even though the line was crazy as it was, no one should ever try to get a shortcut. Not in God’s city, I can assure you. (Full tips at the end of this post.)
So much so, we still got in and feel so happy we made it! It’s crazy crowded, but there are many top-notch artworks waiting to reward us. countless masterpieces are here, the room of Constantine, the Room of Segnatura (with the Parnassus and the school of Athens), and most above them all- The Sistine Chapel.
Since the free Sunday is only open to 2 pm, and the last entry to the museum is 12:30 pm, all of the visitors were have the same idea- the Sistine Chapel. It’s a flood, shoulder to shoulder walk towards the chapel. we are smart enough to get a museum guide book for this, to saving our time to see it, and I also suggest you do the same. The audio guide is nice but you can only enjoy it once and have to return it, but buying a book can carry with you. we bought this one: Michelangelo and Raphael in the Vatican. It’s the best we’ve found, so as the price reflect the quality, it’s better than any other books on the shelves. they provide the map that you can easily navigate to see the names, the figures, and the stories behind it, very handy!
First of all, I didn’t look into too many details of the Vatican museum so that I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I am so glad I did this way, so when I finally see the Sistine Chapel I am busting into crying… OH MY GOD! it’s The Creation of Adam! my favorite ultimate Michelangelo’s fresco is alive in front of me! I can’t believe I can be so lucky to see it! And not only this one, but Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement is also here. And the other masters such as Sandro Botticelli has few frescoes of stories from the bible. The room is the most impressive art room I’ve ever seen, such tremendous work moved me from the depth of my heart, really at the moment, it’s all speechless, the real core of art is so refined and pure, all you want is stay and enjoy every detail, feeling and admiring those masters who were once worked so hard and left the beauty to the whole world everlasting.
It’s so awe-inspiring, and we seriously love it so much, we came back the second day to fully enjoy it again.
Also, there are three rules very important to see the Sistine Chapel, first, no one should take any picture in the Chapel, not even selfies. Second, talk with low volume. Third, the dress code for women should wear clothes not to show too much skin, shoulder, but a skirt should cover the knees, men should wear no show shoulder and knees clothes as well. Although we visit at Spring time so there is no one be sent out of the place, but we witnessed many visitors were caught by taking pictures, the staffs are pretty serious doing their job, they take great proud of protecting the art, so they asked to go through the phones and cameras, asking to delete all the pictures taken in the chapel loudly, which is also an intimidate moves to the other visitors. we saw a girl was asked to delete all her pics and almost scared to cry…so please don’t do it.
You can tell all the visitors felt relieved after seeing Sistine Chapel, it’s the main goal to be in the Vatican museum, however, there are so many good works got ignored when you have no choice but been pushed by the crowd indeed. It is too sad to not to see it, therefore, I will say the Vatican museum is definitely worth to dedicate your whole day if you are an art person. Here are some more I want to share with you too.
Laocoön and His Sons, one of the most famous sculpture in 16th, Rodin’s Le Penseur (The Thinker), Francis Bacon’s study for Velazquez Pope II (my love’s favorite artist I have to put it here!), Pinacoteca art gallery (has Cavallegio’s paintings), Galleria Delle Carte Geografiche (Gallery of Maps) is another incredible room full of gold, artworks from 12th-18th.
We couldn’t be happier to see those amazing works, the free Sunday gave us the idea- we must come back again on Monday to truly enjoy other rooms! and so glad we did it, Monday is not as crowded as before, probably only 10% of tourists than before. Hence, we were much comfortably enjoying the School of Athens, also we walked to the end of the Vatican museum, seeing Rodin’s thinker (one of the late cast) very intimately. To be honest, I will say it’s a better choice to skip entry free Sunday and come the following Monday is the pro move. Although The free Sunday is a crazy experience to put yourself in the art carnival moment if you would like to feel how people flock into THE museum of God’s city.
With full appreciations of incredible art we saw, we continued our adventure to St. Peter Basilica. will soon to be shared with you.
Tips for visiting Musei Vaticani (Vatican museum):
- Please check their official website for opening hours and schedule. they have lots of closing days for hosting events! also, they change often the last entry time which is much earlier than closing time.
- Be sure to know what kind of art you would like to see first since it is often crowded.
- The summer and autumn time has longer Friday opening hours, if you love to enjoy it, it could be the best visiting time.
- Better avoid FREE entry Sunday if you want to have a quality time enjoying art. the full ticket is 17 EU/person, but truly worth the price.
- The best guide book we found in the museum is Michelangelo and Raphael in the Vatican. It will help you a lot when you seeing Raphael’s room and the Sistine Chapel.
- Do not buy from any vendors selling fast pass for the church or museum around Vatican city, especially on free entry museum Sunday, there is no one have the privilege to get in earlier.
- Well-planned and be flexible if you intend to see on FREE entry Sunday, choose to see the museum before the church since the museum only open to 2 pm.
- Roma Pass doesn’t help on the Vatican museum.
- The official website also provides some interesting choices such as breakfast or dinner in the Vatican museum, or private tours, if you feel like to do something different, it may be worth to check it out even though it’s pretty pricey.
- Please follow the dress code, and wear walkable shoes, and a lightweight jacket, bring a camera, small bag.
- Please do not take any picture in the Sistine Chapel, the staffs will seriously ask you to delete pics.
- In case you are visiting in a popular time, the official map; http://www.museivaticani.va/content/dam/museivaticani/pdf/visita_musei/servizi_visitatori/mappa_musei_vaticani.pdf is worth to keep in degital form that you may be pass the counter to grab a physical one.
Musei Vaticani→ Trastevere neighborhood
St. Peter’s Basilica→ Castel Sant’Angelo→ Piazza Navona