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Published: June 21st 2017
The Vatican Just Before Dawn
The Vatican Just Before Dawn 17-10-14
Geo: 41.8955, 12.4823
Today was the day we had organised the Early Entry Express Sistine Tour. I had always wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and having seen photos of how crowded it gets, we decided to spend the extra money on this tour. It was one of the best decisions of our trip.
We grabbed a taxi shortly after 7.00am as we had to meet in a street opposite the Vatican my 7.30. Initially there was a lot of confusion, as there were lots of people milling around in the dark. We were surprised, and slightly concerned, as the tour we had booked was apparently the only early entry tour available and limited to only 40 people. There were many more than 40 people waiting. Eventually we found our guide and went to line up. Sure enough, once the doors finally opened, only our group was allowed in at precisely 8:00am. All of the other people were still left in line, unable to enter until later which seemed strange why they were there so early.
Our guide was excellent. She raced us through the Vatican Museums, but slowed enough at the major sights to explain and give us some history. We
Dome of St. Peters
The Dome of St Peters 17-10-14
knew that we had unlimited time to go back and see the museum at our leisure, the priority at this point was reaching the Chapel.
We finally got inside the chapel, just the forty of us. What an amazing sight it was. It was so empty we could wander from one side to the other and change seats so as to get the very best views of the amazing ceiling. As previously mentioned it was worth every penny of the €49 entry ticket. Unfortunately no photos were allowed which was a shame as I would have loved to take photos with the chapel empty and compare them with the crowds when we returned later in the morning.
After the Chapel, we spent the next couple of hours exploring the Vatican Museums, they were huge and quite overwhelming. We particularly enjoyed the map room with its historic maps.
Eventually we made our way back to the Sistine Chapel and wow what a difference! It was totally packed, with everyone shoulder to shoulder. We were so pleased that we had had that special time earlier this morning as the crowds took away all the enjoyment. We made our way over to the "secret" exit
Map of Venice in Vatican Map Room
Venice from the Map Room, Vatican Museum 17-10-14
for tour groups that allowed direct entry into St. Peters. The next hour or so was spent exploring St. Peters and posting the traditional postcards from the Vatican post office.
We then headed down the river to Castel Sant'Angelo. We were hungry by this stage, so crossed the bridge and found a little trattoria where we ate some very nice grilled seabass with rosemary potatoes. We returned to the Castel and spent an hour or so touring it. It is quite an impressive structure with stunning view from the ramparts at the top.
Finally a long walk back to our hotel for a rest before dinner at Hostaria al Pantheon, right next door. We enjoyed sharing Polpette followed by grilled chicken and Crème Catalan.
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