Despite being early June, the weather in Rome was hot and sunny and the crowds had descended in their masses. Rising early, we'd weaved through the maze of streets and gently slipped between tour groups into the entrance to the Vatican. On first glance, the foyer didn't seem too busy, the toilets were empty and the guidebook sellers twiddled their thumbs. We climbed to the next floor, discussing our viewing priorities and predicting the best times to hit each. And then we rounded the corner, and realised why the entrance was so empty - everyone was already upstairs.
Just a short while after opening, and the Vatican was packed. The large groups hadn't even arrived yet, but it seemed that every tourist in the whole world was inside these ancient walls. We considered heading outside and returning a couple of hours later, only to see the tour groups from earlier coming towards us. Packed in from both sides, we had to go with the flow. Although people were generally quiet and respectful towards each other, it was difficult to fully appreciate the place with the pressure from behind and the sea of people in front. It was definitely the most busy attraction I've ever visited.
All that quickly disappeared as we entered the corridor of maps. Huge, incredibly detailed and beautiful representations of Italy and other parts of the world, the rich sapphire blues of the seas and the elegant brush strokes made me forget, for a short while, about the noise and crowds, as we stepped free of the throng to look in closer detail. Despite all the amazing artwork in the Vatican, including world-famous paintings and murals, it was these maps that captured my attention and gave me a much-needed boost of energy.
Want to see more Monday photos? Take a look...
Monday photo - 16th April
Monday photo - 9th April