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Obama to skip Sistine Chapel during visit with Pope Francis

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Up next on the U.S. President's European tour is Italy.

Mister Obama will be meeting with Italian leaders, and with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

But with a packed schedule, time for sight-seeing is limited.

And as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, the Sistine Chapel did not make the list.

No visit to the Vatican is complete without seeing this, the Sistine Chapel.

It is here where for hundreds of years cardinals have elected the popes.

Where Michelangelo painstakingly painted the iconic ceiling and later vivid scenes from the “Last Judgment”.

Every day thousands of visitors pass through here, craning their necks to take in the beauty and the majesty.

Since the election of Pope Francis a year ago, visitor numbers have been steadily increasing, up eight percent in 2013.

And according to the Vatican Museums' Monsignieur Paolo Nicolini, that number is up another twenty percent so far this year.

Power may have its perks, but time isn't one of them. It's unlikely us President Barack Obama, due here Thursday, will be able to squeeze in even a passing glance at this masterpiece.

One of the advantages of being a CNN correspondent, as opposed to, say, the President of the United States, is that I have the time to visit the Sistine Chapel. President Obama, however, according to his schedule, will not be able to make it here during his visit to the Vatican.

First Lady Michelle Obama was luckier, in 2009 she had a guided tour of the chapel.

Professor Antonio Paolucci, Vatican Museum Director: "I accompanied her and her daughters," recalls director of the Vatican museums professor Antonio Paolucci.

But when I ask him if he could have Pope Francis convince President Obama to pop in for a quick visit, he demurred, saying that's basically above his pay scale.

In any event, with a jumble of more pressing issues, from the Ukraine to the U.S. economy, staring him in the face, the president's mind may be elsewhere.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, in Vatican City.

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