Our plans for the day included a trip to the Vatican with our tour group. Although we were traveling in a dedicated tour bus, there was a bit of apprehension as the morning began. Rome’s public transit workers were staging a strike and the impact on traffic flows was an unknown factor.
Visiting the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel is an extremely popular destination for visitors to Rome. I’m not a great fan of standing in long queues, so was very happy when our local guide, Carmella, met our bus and proceeded to lead us past the long queue that was already forming outside the entrance to the Vatican Museum.
In recent years, a new foyer and reception area has been added to the front of the museum and from there we took a long elevator ride up the former entrance area and began our tour of the Vatican properties.
Carmella had promised us that she would move heaven and earth to lead us, inform us and keep us ahead of the crowds. She successfully demonstrated her ability to move earth and we didn’t lose anyone in the crowds. Carmella was a very friendly and knowledgeable guide and was one of those guides who would reach a point and then identify a specific meeting spot where she would be in 5 or 10 minutes. This is a very useful attribute to me, since I have a tendency to wander away from the group to get a different angle for a photo or to look at something that is not the specific focus of the guide at that point in time and can easily become separated from the group in crowded circumstances.
The number of sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and painted ceilings (frescoes – from the Italian word affresco) in the many rooms and along the hallways could keep a person studying them busy for many hours, days or years. Use of trompe-l’oeil techniques produced a 3D effect with many of the frescoes. (Di sotto in sù techniques, quadratura techniques)
We were on the typical tour schedule and moved along with the flow of the crowd as Carmella pointed out the highlights and background history along the way.