I could imagine that this room is often overlooked. There is one-way traffic leading you through most of Sistine Chapel, but the Pinacoteca is in it's separate wing and if you started the beeline for the Sistine and went straight to St. Peter's, you could easily miss this one. Before heading for the Sistine Chapel, head for this one. Keep walking towards the back room (with a stop at a copy of Michelangelo's Pieta) and spend fifteen minutes soaking in the majesty of the masterpieces in a gallery that is not crowded.
|This is a copy of Michelangelo's "Pieta". It is an opportunity to study the details of this masterpiece without the crowds.|
|Transfiguration by Raphael|
|Madonna of Foligno by Raphael|
|A tapestry of The Last Supper taken from the work of Leonardo da Vinci|
|Leonardo's unfinished painting of St. Jerome|
Raphael was commissioned to paint the walls and ceilings of four rooms at the Vatican Museum. They were originally used by the popes either as a residence, study, office and such. It was beautiful, yes, but I cannot overlook how lavish and opulent these were. It was an indication of how much power and money (corruption and greed?) were flowing in the Church during that time.
3. If you have a small lightweight pair of binoculars, it wouldn't hurt to stash them in your pack. These would come in handy at the Sistine Chapel. You could really study the details on the ceiling if you could get close ups.
4. Rent an audio guide. This museum (as with any museum) is best navigated with some contextual information. You can also download free audio guides from iTunes. I had an old, neglected iPod lying around that I put to good use on this trip. I used Rick Steve's free audio guide to the Sistine Chapel downloadable here.
5. The Vatican is its own country and their stamps are coveted. Carve a few minutes to write a couple postcards and mail them right at the museum!