What do you think when you hear the word Rome? Well, here’s what you should think: LINES. Goodness gracious alive. Just kidding, it could’ve been worse. First day in Rome and what do we do? We go to the Vatican City.
The Vatican City is actually a tiny country in the middle of Rome. We kept saying dumb things like, “if I stick one hand over here and my other over here I’ll be in two different countries!” Stupid yes, but the only way to entertain yourself while you are waiting in the line.
Now we’ve all heard of the Sistine Chapel. You know, the ceiling Michelangelo was forced to paint even though he was miserable the whole time; but all these years later an estimated five million people visit it per year. It’s famous, pretty much everyone’s heard of it. An incredible piece of art, sure…
Stock Photo, you’re not allowed to take pictures
We rode the subway from our Air BNB and as soon as we climbed the stairs we were swarmed. That’s not completely true, but it sure felt like it. Battling off people asking us, “You speak English? You have reservation? Come with me to skip line,” we marched straight to the line circling completely around these big walls. We stood in line for an hour and a half, maybe more. The whole time we were asked if we wanted to skip the line. All I could think was “Of course I want to skip the line! But you seem a little sketchy, so if you don’t mind I am going to lie and say I like lines.” It was like Disney World; but instead of a ride at the end of the massive line, there was a pretty ceiling. Of course, there are other things to see inside besides the chapel, but no one really goes to see the long hall of strange maps.
Shuffling along with a mob of people, we finally saw it. I know I sound really negative, and probably annoying. I know you’re probably thinking, “you’re so lucky to have seen it” and all that, but it wasn’t really that impressive. Yes, it’s amazing to see this whole ceiling covered in art, but the art is just a bunch of naked people with a cheesy blue sky background. The whole time you’re practically breaking your neck to see it, and the beauty of the Chapel is dampened a little by the fact that you just waited in line for hours to see it. You have high expectations, you definitely don’t want to be disappointed, but it’s easy to be. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t skip it; but like the Mona Lisa, it’s a tad overrated.
Now for a fun tip, I know you’ve been waiting for this moment, again just kidding. There’s this door in the far right corner of the Sistine Chapel. It’s for tour groups only, but we snuck in with a tour and no one even saw. It leads you straight to St. Peter’s Basilica, completely avoiding the insane line stretching all the way across the courtyard.
St. Peter’s Basilica is this huge domed church. It’s said that Peter is buried there, and the Pope goes there on Wednesdays when he’s in town and blesses people. If you can’t sneak in through the door, don’t bother going inside, unless you have tickets to climb to the top of the dome. The inside’s cool and all, but not worth an hour in line for security. Admission’s free so that’s good, but the line will cost you time.
My Mom’s favorite, the PietaRome is beautiful. The colorful streets are a joy to walk down. It smells a little funky at times, but that’s to be expected of every big city. One last thing, don’t ever try to walk from the Vatican City to the center of Rome, because you will run into the walls of the Roman Forum. You will wander around for what feels like hours, while your brother has a sneezing fit. Take the subway, or get an Uber. Uber is my go to. – Ella