Our tickets for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel were for 1:30PM admission. We arrived at the entrance just a bit late but had no issues being admitted. We managed to maneuver around the many tour groups queuing up and crowding the entrance hall, got our receipt for our audio guides, and headed upstairs. A quick lesson on how to use the audio guide, and we were off to explore.
You really need a week to see all the treasures at an appropriate pace. But as our ticket was good for one day only, we had to see everything we could in the limited time available. I’d say we did a pretty good job. We did double back a few hours into our exploration as empty bellies and thirst were getting the better of us. Fortunately the cafe near Pinecone Courtyard had one remaining vegetarian sandwich! That with a side of caprese and Italian beer, and we had the energy needed to complete our tour.
The Hall of Maps was breathtaking. The Sistine Chapel beautiful and awe-inspiring. I was somewhat disappointed in Michalangelo’s The Creation, if that’s even possible…having seen it in photos for so many years, it was much smaller than I expected. However, the fact that I was standing in the Sistine Chapel looking at it was pretty amazing in and of itself.
No photos were allowed in the Sistine Chapel, so we will continue to rely on the photos in books and online to remember that portion of our visit. From there we essentially skipped the Contemporary Art collection, stopped at the gift store on our way out, and headed back toward our hotel – exhausted with our brains on overload. We opted for a quick beverage to celebrate our anniversary in a small wine cafe just down the street from the hotel…a glass of proseco, a glass of chardonnay, and a cheese board made for a perfect end to the afternoon’s adverture.
Out of curiousity we checked some statistics for the Vatican Museum. It is the 5th most visited and 5th largest museum in the world. (The Louvre being #1 for visitors and the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia for size.)
We had dinner reservations at 9:30PM. We all met at the rooftop garden of our friends’ hotel on Piaza Campo di Fiori. We shared a bottle of proseco and a bottle of La Fornace brunello, and watched the sun set over St. Peter’s dome.
Dinner was at Roscioli Restuarant. We were seated in the basement amongst many, many bottles of wine. It was fun to read labels, and the wine list was like a phone book. If money had been no object, we might have splurged on the 1955 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva. Alas, none of really wanted to wash dishes for the next year to pay it off! A fantastic dinner – primi of pasta with fried pork cheek, secondi of tuna carpaccio. A primi of spinach and ricotta raviolis and secondi of lamb chops for my other half. We shared pistachio crême brulee for dessert, with a glass of syrah.
We left the restaurant about 12:30AM and caught cabs back to our hotel. As our brains and bellies were still on sensory overload from the day’s excursion and wonderful meal, we opted for a late night bottle of wine with our best man at a cafe right around the corner from the hotel. Sharing memories, people watching, and talking about life in general – I’d say the perfect way to spend your 11th anniversary!