Straight to the Sistine Chapel? Elaine?

Feb 28th, 2002, 01:29 PM
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Straight to the Sistine Chapel? Elaine?

I first read in Elaine's wonderful travel notes of Rome to enter into the Vatican Museum when it first opens, and head straight for the Sistine Chapel to avoid the crowds. You then in turn back track to see the museum. This was my intention, but today, I was going back reading some old posts, and read that depending on the current rules, and which ones they are imposing, this may not be possible. Has anyone done this recently? I am going in April, my first visit to Rome. If it is not possible, being that I have never been to Rome before, is it feasible to go straight to the Sistine Chapel, exit and then since you already have a ticket to enter, re-enter again to see the museum without waiting in line? We have the Scavi tour booked for 1:45, do we have enough time to see the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel before the tour? Thanks.
Feb 28th, 2002, 01:40 PM
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Hi Sandy
I didn't do it when I was at the Vatican because I was with a group going through with one of the Vatican guides
(big mistake, but that's another story)
However, I saw absolutely no reason why you couldn't skip ahead as originally recommended. In fact, after I finished my initial tour I went to the excellent Vatican cafeteria, regrouped, visited the gift shop, and then decided to carpe the diem and go back to the Sistine Chapel on my own for a last look. It's a fairly long walk,but no one seemed to care where I was going.
I think I mentioned in my file that when I was finally through with the Sistine Chapel I took the exit used for exiting groups only (as opposed to individuals).
No one stopped me,and when you exit there you are right in front of St Peter's (the Sistine Chapel is actually part of St Peter's) as opposed to exiting the Vatican Museums and then still having a 10-15 minute walk back to St Peter's.It's certainly worth a try.
IMO the minimum time to see the Vat museum and the Sistine Chapel is two hours, and that doesn't count any time spent waiting in the admission line outside the complex.
And aside from the Scavi don't forget the rest of St Peter's. It was awesome
(for once that word is accurate) and the English-speaking guide I had was excellent. Allow some time after the guide finishes to linger in St Peters, or plan on returning on another day.
Feb 28th, 2002, 02:15 PM
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Sandy, I wouldn't count on being able to backtrack or to use entrances and exits used for groups. Sometime you may have a guard that will stop you, then you are all mixed up in your plans. Last year we went the way of all the tourists and it worked out fine, I find lingering at Sistine better after you have seen the museums, this way you feel no pressure to rush. You can always backtrack to the cafe, etc. But IMHO I would enter the museum early, see Sistine then St Peters and the tour. They seems to have it worked out nicely now in regards to the hoards of tourists, and since this is your first trip and you are not sure of the layout, I would not try to cut corners. Save that for your next trip.
Feb 28th, 2002, 03:08 PM
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Sandy, last October, six of us went to Rome and we must have dedicated two whole days to the Vatican, maybe, more. On our first day, we went through the museum, which can take hours, but there's nothing quite like entering the Sistine Chapel last. You can't appreciate it until you see it and the artwork along the way is rather incredible, even if you are not really knowledgeable about art (like me!). Time well spent. The chapel is beautiful.

That same day, my wife, Mary made arrangements online (before the trip) to visit the catacombs beneath St Peter's where they believe the 'trophy' to be (Peter), on a tour which is provided by a guide (in different languages). There were only eight in our tour. You sign up online through the Vatican.

The next day was the 'Audience with the Pope' on wednesday mornings that you also sign up for in advance. You pick up the tickets at St. Susanna's church in another part of the city and merely give a donation of any amount. The 'audience' is about 10,000 people seated right in St. Peter's square. The pope conducts a prayer and speaks to the audience in about eight langauges. Definitely worth it.

In the afternoon, we went into St. Peter's cathedral. It is absolutely incredible. Not easily described.

We did return yet again as I remember and we went up into the cupola of St. Peter's. You take an elevator to the base of the dome and then climb the remaining 320 steps for a panoramic view of the city.

The only better view was at nearby Castel Saint' Angelo where you can go up onto the roof and see the Vatican to the west and the city to the east and south beyond the Tiber. You can easily see the pantheon and just make out the colosseum.

It's a good thing that we had eight days. We were not bored at all and still didn't see everything on our list. Great city.

Feb 28th, 2002, 03:13 PM
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I just got back from Rome. We went to the Vatican Museums on a Monday and the lines were incredible.

I think that the museum thinks that almost everyone wants to go to the Sistine Chapel and tries to direct them there. You go through the Borgia apartments where Raphael's frescos are on the ceilings and that is where it can get really crowded.

I disagree with one of the posts that says that the Sistine Chapel isn't worth it because if you do just a bit of reading prior to going, it is breathtaking.

The paintings seem three dimensional and there are other frescos by Botticelli there too. I thought the colors were vibrant but my husband just thought it was ho-hum.

We tried to get to the other parts of the museum like the Pinacoteca where Caravaggios and Titians are. And since they don't provide a map, you can follow signs.

I would recommend that you go into the dome of St P's basilica and pay the 4 euro to go up to the very tip top. You can get a wonderful view of Rome of the top, just be prepared for 390 stairs that can be winding and steep.
Feb 28th, 2002, 05:25 PM
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I have this same question. Is it possible to go straight to the Sistine Chapel and then go back and see the museum? I am not clear on this yet from the answers above. Thanks.
Feb 28th, 2002, 05:30 PM
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Why do you want to do this? Stand in line twice? Go through the museum and straight into Sistine and out into St. Peters like you are supposed to.
Feb 28th, 2002, 06:35 PM
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Wand-We are interested in this because others have said it is possible. The main reason is to experience the Sistine Chapel without the hords of people. To experience it by yourself with only a handful of other people. To me, it would seem to be a very surreal experience. Understand where we're coming from?

One of my questions was about standing in line twice. Does anyone know, if we have paid admission already, can we exit the Sistine Chapel, go back to the museum entrance and enter without standing in line again. Kind of like pre-paying for a movie ticket. Or does the line work in a different way? Thanks.
Feb 28th, 2002, 06:50 PM
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Yes you can.
We did that last Sept. 13th 2001- made a break for the Sistine, then went back to the rest of the museum.
The museum(s) are built as a series of loops. We first tried going backwards, but 5 rooms back in the tacky modern "art", the busybody guard told us to take the proper direction.
Out of the chapel, you take another series of corridors back to the main entrance (the spiral staircase for horses!). Sorry, I'm doing this from memory.
From the entrance (no you don't exit the complex) there is a cafeteria and several loops. The pinoteca is one. The Egyptian museum is another. The old Greek & roman scu;lture museum is another. The loop through the corridors of art is the way to the Sistine chapel and the papal apartments.
Hmm, I'll have to dig up the guide book and re-live this.
It takes about half an hour minimum to do the Sistine loop, plus gawk time in the chapel.

PS. If you get tickets for the Papal audience Wednesday, then head for the roof entrance as soon as the audience is over. You'll be first in line when they open roof access after the audience...
Enjoy your tour.
Feb 28th, 2002, 07:43 PM
dan woodlief
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You may wish to consider how tired you are at that point of your trip. Unless someone knows a different way than the typical one to the Sistine Chapel, it was a long walk to get that far for us. We went in the early afternoon in October and didn't have any line to enter. The Sistine Chapel was crowded, as were the Raphael rooms, but it didn't detract enough that I wished I had gone to the Chapel first thing in the day.
Feb 28th, 2002, 08:32 PM
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This is what I am saying, a long walk and lines all for what? You go to Sistine first does not make for no crowd, the crowd is still there no matter which way you go. This is where I coming from the way you coming from is backwards for nothing.
Mar 1st, 2002, 01:57 AM
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Its over a year since we did this but if things are the same this is my opinion... I read many reports before hand similar to yourself and followed the advice which was perfect:
Get to the chapel at least 1/2 hour to one hour before opening - we did this and were 10 people from the front. By the time it opened the line was out of sight. When the doors open run (walk fast hee hee) dont walk, sprint - go straight past the headphone counter - rent one!! then continue the dash straight to the chapel do not look left or right - very tempting, the place is amazing and then you get your reward!

We had the Sistine Chapel almost solely to ourselves for about 15-20 minutes before anyone else arrived (the majority wander through) We could relax, appreciate and absorb the wonder of the room before the crowds began to completly fill the room. There was only 2 other couples who did the same as us and theyd obviously been worded up on it also. )fodorites perhaps

We then had no problems going through the musuem with the only comment to be made is that the loop has to end up with you going back through the chapel, which is no hardship and will allow you to pat yourself on the back when you enter it for the second time and find people crammed shoulder to shoulder trying to "appreciate it".
PS The headphones are great for giving you detail on the painting in the chapel and what they all represent.
Mar 1st, 2002, 06:07 AM
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Rules can change at any time, but I heartily agree with gayle's advice, and in fact it is what I was trying to convey.
Just to clarify, when she says
"Get to the chapel...before opening" and then be in the front of the line, I assume she means get to the entrance of the Vatican Museums. You buy an entrance ticket. You get your headphones if you like. Then sprint ahead of the Museums themselves to the Sistine Chapel, (there are many signs directing you there.) You will be passing masterworks of art, but keep moving. You are not "swimming upstream" you are just on "fast forward." It's at least a 10 minute sprint, probably more, to the Chapel. Enjoy it while it is
uncrowded. Then circle back to near the beginning to see everything you missed.
(That's the point at which I went to the cafeteria, but I'd already been through the rest). Then at the end of your visit you'll be back at the Chapel which will now be very crowded.
When you are really through, you can
take the marked exit and then take the walk to St Peter's, take the group exit if you can and exit right in front of St Peter's, or circle back within the Museum complex to the cafeteria, bookshop, or bathrooms. All of this was absolutely possible last fall.
Mar 1st, 2002, 02:15 PM
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Since you are looking at a ceiling what is the difference if there are crowds?
It seems like a lot of trouble to me, running and double tracking. You could be labeled an ugly tourist you know, with all your running, sprinting, walking fast and trying to get ahead of the crowd. Relax, it is Italy, la dolce vita. Show class and be serene, not walking fast and getting all worked into a frenzy.
Mar 1st, 2002, 03:35 PM
My Guess
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At a guess from Anne's response - as to its only a ceiling - Id say she hasnt visited the sistine chapel!?? and hasnt experienced having crowds of people all talking and ohhing and arhhing does impact "a little" on the moment.
But hey we all do the travel bit our own way - some like to "play it cool" some like to "get the best from an often once in lifetime experience that they can". To each their own, but no need for the old cliche tourist putdowns.
Mar 1st, 2002, 04:19 PM
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I didn't state a cliche tourist put down, have you ever experienced being jostled, pushed and elbowed by someone who wants to get ahead of the crowd to get in somewhere first? Or backtracking the wrong way? I didn't say it is only a ceiling, I meant you are looking up. I kind of like the rest of the crowds oohing and aahing, it is nice to see people from around the world appreciating art in their own languages.
Mar 1st, 2002, 04:29 PM
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I'm with Anne on this one. Nothing more obnoxious than someone on a mission to get someplace before the rest of us. Like they are the only persons that matter. The Vatican has us going in an orderly fashion for a reason, to keep us from chaos and to appreciate the beauty where you can stop and admire as long as you want. There are always a few people that think they are special. They are also the ones that butt in front of you at museums, etc. thinking only of themselves.
Mar 1st, 2002, 11:13 PM
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When my mother went in 1965 on a school trip chaperoned by the Ukrainian sisters, they actually got to attend a private service in the chapel with the Pope. It was not very crowded and doubtless everyone present was on his best behavior. Perhaps it's still possible to swing something like this, although this trip my mother went on sounds very serious. Touring restricted to sites of religious interest, strict bedtime curfews, all meals eaten at the convent. Not the kind of thing most Fodorites seem to go in for.
Mar 2nd, 2002, 04:32 AM
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As I tried to say
there is nothing in what gayle or I suggested that involves going against the crowd or pushing people.
The suggestion is just to be there early in the morning, as as you are one of the first to be admitted, go the the masterpiece of masterpieces before it gets too crowded. It's like the cliche philosophy "Life is short. Have dessert first."
The Sistine Chapel was a disappointing experience for me (and for others) because of the density of the crowd and especially because of the inconsiderate noisy babble of the crowd. A moving or contemplative experience it wasn't, for me.
I like la dolce vita as much as the next person, but if there is a way for me to see something that will enhance my experience and not disturb or inconvenience anyone else, I tend to go for it. To each her own.
Mar 5th, 2002, 10:00 PM
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i agree with elaine and sandy. i just wanted to figure out if there is a way to see the sistine chapel without mobs of other people. i don't enjoy trying to absorb art with tons of other people squashed up against me. i especially don't like it when those other people are talking loudly, about other things, and don't seem all that interested in the attraction. this has happened to me at other major tourist attractions and it ruins my experience. i am not intending to push or shove and don't mind arriving early and walking a distance to see the chapel before the other art. thanks to all of those who gave advice about how to accomplish that. i am looking forward to it!

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