Breaking the rules in Vatican City

I decided to start my first day alone in Rome by going to Vatican City. I felt that I was rushed the first time I went to the Vatican Museum six years ago, so it would be nice to spend a few hours in the museum and then head over to St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican Museum courtyard

Ceiling of a hall on the way to the Sistine Chapel (Photography is not allowed in the Chapel.)

When I was searching for the Museum’s hours, I came across a helpful blog, Ron in Rome, which has 20 tips about visiting the Museum. One of the key tips (#5) was to sneak through to the tour group exit at the Sistine Chapel to the back entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica, which saves 30-40 minutes of walking around the wall of Vatican City.

I thought this was a brillant idea, especially considering the heat outside and all of the other things I wanted to do that day.

As I stared up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the end of my trip to the Museum, I wondered if I should follow my plan and go through the other exit. There was a guard there, and it seemed risky.

I married into a family that has a nun, and as I contemplated what to do, I thought about what the spirited, sensible, determined Sister would do. I concluded that she would think it was ridiculous to walk all the way around the wall of the city and would take the short cut to get to the Basilica faster. And, that’s how I made my decision to break the rules in Vatican City (of all places!).

I started eyeing tour groups to see which one I could sneak out with. It was time for me to make my move when a group next to me started moving through the group exit. It was a group led by a nun (sorry, Sister), and it was an Italian-speaking tour with another one was right behind me. They both stopped at the top of the stairs, so I was stuck. I either had to blend into the groups or risked getting stopped on the stairs by a guard.

I bounced between to the two groups, pretending to be part of the other one when the guides were looking and acted like I was interested when they pointed to something on the wall (even though I couldn’t understand anything from their Italian descriptions). Finally, we were outside, and I was free.

The group exit is so close to the Basilica’s entrance.

I split from the group and made my way around St. Peter’s Basilica.

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica

I’m not sure of the motive to make visitors walk over a mile to get from one building to the next when they are right next door to each other or to make them go through security a second time. It actually seems a little cruel, so maybe my act of defiance wasn’t so bad after all. As a result of my decision making, I had extra time that afternoon to have some gelato in a peaceful park.

Vatican City


4 responses to “Breaking the rules in Vatican City

  1. You are exactly right that Sister Jane would have broken the rules. However, she might not be the best benchmark for how to live your life like a virtuous nun. I think the habit has helped her get away with many things over the years.

  2. Pingback: The solo day traveler in Rome | The Traveling Times·

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