No worries, Keith. If the expectation is for silence, we will be happy to observe that, regardless what others do. I asked because in other churches we have visited, in Italy, Spain and England, the expectation was " quiet" not "silence.". The tour operator said "it should be silent" but I did not understand that to be the official rule. Now I do---although it appears from others' experience that the rule is not observed.
I have been in the Sistine Chapel before, although it was 48 years ago. It was a private visit with my university class, and no, it was not silent. One of our professors delivered a lecture, pointing out the various features of the frescoes and discussing the symbolism. He spoke in soft tones, but he did speak.
I am booking the early entry visit for us this time so we do not have to endure the crowds (and apparently the noise). We meet at 7:30 am and go in well before the general public. Apparently our group can be 20, and there will be (I think) two other groups of twenty, or sixty total. Or maybe I did not understand the description and there will be more. I hope not.
But I would like some kind of guide to understand what I am looking at. I just finished reading "Michaelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" and was fascinated by the history and politics behind the art. I will of course recognize the Biblical scenes on the ceiling, but there is so much more --the lunettes and side panels, with portrayals of the prophets and Christ's ancestors, even characters from pagan mythology. Many were created as likenesses of contemporary persons, including Pope Julius and others, both friend and foe of Michaleangelo. I will not remember everything I read about it, so perhaps I should take in some notes or maybe a small guidebook (not Rick's) if that is allowed.