The advantage of going to bed early means you get up early. Unfortunately noone told me that would involve waking up at 3AM. Pleas for the kids to return to bed to sleep or to at least play quietly were heeded for only a few minutes before the hum of activity and giggles emerged from their bedroom. On the plus side, Rome is pretty quiet at 3am, with no sirens and the streetsweepers and bin collections only start around 5am.
You also have the chance to have a leisurely breakfast with a strong caffe, a quick lukewarm shower and be out the door to head to your destination EARLY, which is the key to avoid the crowds.
The exception to this rule is the Vatican, which has crowds regardless of day or time. Heading into the Vatican Museum was slow, especially if you are stuck behind a family whose father insists walking up the street with his eyes glued to a video camera filming his approach to the Museums.
We prebooked tickets, so it only took us 10 minutes rather than 2 hours to get in at 9.30.
Inside we negotiated tour groups, and other hordes to look and marvel at the collection of art and ancient artefacts the Catholic Church had amassed over centuries.
The jewel in the crown was the Sistine Chapel.And I must admit a few of the collections en route were given a casual glance rather than studied in detail in the desire to see it.
First impression was the darkness of the chapel, which left the frescoes looking quite subdued. The second impression was the crowd craning their necks to look up, and their chatter. It was a low hum which, when it would gradually rise to a certain level, would be hushed by the guards. It was truly wondrous to be in the place where Michelangelo spent 4 years painting the most amazing story, but the crowds were a bit much to handle. Luckily it was beautiful outside where we went to have a quick bite!