Today is the 500th anniversary of the unveiling of Michelangelo’s fresco’s in the Sistine Chapel.
As one of THE most popular tourist destinations ever, with an average 10,000 visitors a day and 30,000 on Sundays (when entry is free of course) the Italian government have decided to take some “basta” all of those bodily fluids that are damaging the precious frescoes.
The current air-con system, installed in the 1990’s is now obsolete, and instead of simply replacing it the Vatican have decided to re-think their entry policy. The Vatican, museums director Antonio Paolucci appointed a specialist company to design a new air-purifying system but as there is no current solution it looks like only option is to reduce the number of tourists allowed.
Anyone who has been to the chapel will know that it is invariably cram-packed full of tourists, and despite all of the signs declaring “silenzio” there is a continual stream of chatter in an incomprehensible mix of languages. Definitely not an environment suitable to prayer. Nor is it suitable for the study and appreciation of the frescos, for you are more likely to be concentrating on keeping your bag from the prominent pickpockets than the beautiful modelling of Michelanelgo’s Last Judgement.
Perhaps then, this new tourist restriction could restore some of the peace and magnificence intrinsic to such an important place. Although, if the queue’s were 3 hours before, without the restriction, who knows what they will be like when it’s inevitably imposed.