We'd planned on going to Castel Sant'Angelo but discovered it was closed on Mondays. There was an exhibition of highlights from the different regions of Italy so we spent some time trying to understand what was going on - all the descriptions were in Italian. Then we headed towards the Vatican and into Piazza San Pietro following the crowds. The queue into St Peter's was already stretched through the herding pens and across the Piazza, but we'd decided before we travelled that we weren't going in there.
I cannot recommend enough pre-booking your tickets to the Vatican museums. We'd booked our slot at 2pm - expecting to have been busy for the morning. All we had was an email so a little nervous we decided to figure out what we needed to do when our timeslot came. As we walked around the walls of the Vatican we quickly came across the other huge queue. Worried that we might need to wait in that queue we kept walking to the front and finally spotted someone who looked like they were in charge. He waved us towards the doors where we noticed a separate entrance. We went through the second door, passed our belongings through security and quickly got our tickets validated. It wasn't long after 12, which had been the first available slot we could have booked. So we thought we would head straight to the Sistine chapel in the hope that it might be a little quiet. HA!
The flow through the Vatican museums on the way to the Sistine chapel seems to be one way. However there were some diversions on the way to see other collections. We went for a couple of these diversions however soon learned that they were big loops that took you almost back to the beginning so you had to go through the same bit again.
We learned as with lots of places that you have to time things just right. You need to get yourself between two tour groups. This doesn't give you a lot of time to stop, look and take pictures because you'll be caught and then have to wait for that group to pass you (and you'll end up with photos of their flags). We also learned to look instead of taking pictures - we still have a lot of photos. Several photos named Vatican floor 1, Vatican floor 2 etc. Vatican ceiling 1, Vatican ceiling 2 etc.
We finally crammed our way into the Sistine chapel, which has to be the least peaceful religious building I've ever been in. As many people as possible are crammed in and the guards shout at people to move on and stop taking photos. I appreciate that huge amounts of money and man hours have been spent to revitalise the ceiling and restore it to it's former glory. But personally (just my opinion) I think the ceiling to too bright and new look, it just didn't look historical.
By this time we were starving so found somewhere outside to sit and eat the snacks we had with us. After looking at the various versions of the Pope mobile and seeing some of the other exhibitions we decided we'd had our fill of the Vatican and the crowds.
Images all by me or O