Our guide for the private tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, met us in the foyer of the Hotel Farnese at 9am on Saturday, 30th April. Having a guide isn’t necessary, especially for those who were raised in the Catholic school system, but we were promised a short cut from the museums and chapel to the basilica, so it seemed worth the price.
Decorated floor as we entered the museum corridors
Once inside the museum, Annalivia insisted on providing a twenty minute history lesson about the church and the papacy (most of which we knew) and describing the sections of Michelangelo’s ceiling, because, as we discovered later, speaking is not permitted in the chapel. One interesting snippet that I didn’t know, was that St Peter’s Basilica was only built after the popes returned from Avignon. Started in 1506, it was opened in 1626. Before that, the main papal church was on the other side of the river, in St John’s, which (I hope I’ve got this right) is still part of the Vatican territory, even though it’s outside their walls.