St. Peter’s Square - There are two doors at the far end of the Sistine Chapel. One of them, on the right, is a shortcut that tour groups use to reroute their flock directly into St. Peter’s Basilica, bypassing the thirty minute walk to the main entrance and the never-not-long line to get in. The other door, on the left, exits through the gift shop and dumps visitors back on the street, on the wrong side of the main security checkpoint, outside the towering walls of Vatican City.
I had read the guidebook a dozen times in the days leading up to our visit and after staring at the Sistine ceiling for awhile, we headed towards the doors, excited to pop over to St. Peter’s without having to trudge halfway around the Vatican. “Go left” I said confidently as we shuffled towards the far end of the chapel. My foot had barely crossed the threshold before I realized my mistake. The look on Lauren’s face was a mixture of annoyance, disappointment, and exhaustion (I actually just asked her how she felt in that moment and those were her exact words). I had just added another hour to an already long day. But to her credit, she rebounded quickly and we high stepped (read: crawled) our way around the walls of that tiny nation and took our place among the thousand or so people queued up in St. Peter’s Square.