photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Alan K | all galleries >> Galleries >> A Fistful Of PESOs 2016 > 160903_093731_3881 This Way Out (Sat 03 Sep 16)
previous | next
03-Sep-2016 AKMC

160903_093731_3881 This Way Out (Sat 03 Sep 16)

The Bramante (Double Helix) Staircase (1932), The Vatican

The two week package tour that we were on offered an optional tour of the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel on Saturday morning. Two of our group elected to go to that. The other two (that would include me) booked a different tour which entered the Sistine Chapel about an hour before general opening. It also normally includes a tour of St Peter's Basilica, but that was unavailable on the day that we were there because Australian nun Mary McKillop was being canonised that weekend. We ended up seeing the garage in which all of the Popemobiles are kept instead, as well as some of the other galleries which are not normally visited.

I loved the fact that we were in the Sistine Chapel before opening because we had to pass through it again on our way out, and by then it was a sardine can. It would have been impossible to appreciate the art had we been there at that time. It took us over 20 minutes to just get from one end of the chapel to the other, which was about the same amount of time we had to spend in it and just look around earlier in the morning. At moments like that I'm almost glad that photography is banned within the chapel, though I may have (cough) accidentally (cough) left the video mode on the camera on at one point. Yes, the photography ban is the result of a very grubby deal between the church and a television network in Japan, but it meant that you didn't have people standing there for 20 minutes pointing their iPads at Adam's finger.

However I would still rate this as being the second worst tour that we did on this trip after Pompeii. Not because of the Vatican museums themselves; they are unbelievable in their scope. Not because of the artefacts. But because the guide was completely and utterly woeful. Oh, he knew his stuff. He was friendly and amiable... and in my opinion had absolutely no sense of how to manage a group. He would describe something, but you were given no time to then stop and look at the things that he described. Although we were officially there an hour before opening, in reality there were other groups there as well. So to give one example, he gave a description of some of the maps in the map hall. It's an extraordinary place; you could spend hours looking at those maps. But of course we didn't have hours, so we looked at as much as we could in as little time as we could. However the second he stopped talking he would take off at maximum speed down the corridor. If you stop, even for a moment, to take a shot of one of the maps (or to even LOOK at one of the maps), another tour group will have surged past you, and your guy is off near Pluto somewhere as the sound in your radio ear piece gradually diminishes to nothing. The net result is that the group ended up fragmented into at least two parts with some of the people including me finding their way into the Sistine Chapel and others still outside somewhere. Thank the gods we had sufficient mobile reception to send some SMSes so that we could meet up again.

The second thing is that the Vatican museums are unbelievably short of navigational signs, especially signs pointing towards the exit. So when our guide dumped us in the middle of the museum at the end of the tour and said that if we wanted to follow him out we could but that he would be moving quickly, the group naturally quickly fragmented as it tried to make its way through the surging crowds and back out through the sardine can that was by now the Sistine Chapel. The absence of exit signs (though they seem to become more abundant the closer to the exit you get, which is probably the reverse of what's needed) meant that finding our way back to the entrance was an "experience". The relative scarcity of descriptive signs (and the fact we had no time to look for them anyway as our guide was motoring off into the distance) also meant that I have a whole bunch of hastily grabbed photos, and I have no clue what they are of. Normally to alleviate that problem I take a shot of signs but if the signs aren't there or you have no time to look for them, that doesn't work.

Our original plan was to meet up with our package tour group after they finished their (shorter) tour of the Vatican museums but it took us so long to get out of there that we had to abandon that. Instead we grabbed some pizza at one of the cafes and had a drink, then made our way by foot to a nearby Metro station and bought a ticket to the Colosseum where our package tour group had gone after the Vatican. We managed to meet up with them there and hop the tour bus back to our hotel.

We were not in fact supposed to stay at the hotel that night. I had booked us an apartment in Rome and we were going to move our bags over to it that evening. However the landlord called us while I was at the Vatican and advised that there was a problem with the plumbing. He offered to put us up at another place of his in Trastevere on the western side of the Tiber River. However I didn't feel like moving twice and we still had the package tour's night at the hotel up our sleeves, so we decided to just stay there and go to the apartment on the Sunday. Saturday afternoon was just spent lazing at the hotel before going back to the trattoria that we had gone to on the first Sunday for dinner. I was singularly displeased with myself that I had not taken any photos of the trip to the restaurant. Essentially my photo documentation of the day began and ended at the Vatican.

This staircase is near the exit to the Vatican museums. It is named after an earlier staircase which was built in the early 1500s and designed by Donato Bramante. Both staircases still exist but because both share the same design (which allows people to go up one helix and down the other without encountering each other) it was decided to give them the same name as well. This no doubt can get confusing at times.

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Jola Dziubinska16-Nov-2016 23:50
Excellent capture, but I just can't look down! V.
Julie Oldfield31-Oct-2016 03:35
Fantastic curves and perspective. Nicely detailed too. V
joseantonio30-Oct-2016 09:58
very nice perspective.V.
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment