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How to book Italy museums in advance

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There have been numerous posts on this issue, and I had gone through various threads on Fodors, trying to unravel the mysteries of booking for various Italian museums and attractions in advance.

Having successfully completed my bookings, I have put together a summary of procedures for the benefit of others :

1. Uffizi Gallery & Galleria Accademia, Florence : You can either do it online at www.firenzemusei.it (click on the British flag to get the English version).This is the official website for Florence museums. However, when I tried doing it online for Uffizi, I found that I was not getting the desired time slot, even 60 days in advance. So I tried the telephonic method, and got my desired time slot without any difficulty. The Tel number is : +39 055 294883 (the official tel number for Florence museum bookings). Wait for the Italian recording to get over, which will be followed by an English recording. Follow the instructions, and you will be put on musical hold while you wait your turn to be connected to an available operator (I had to wait about 6-7 minutes). The operator spoke very good English, confirmed my date and time slot (for our party of 4 people), and gave me a confirmation number. No need to make any credit card payment ! (If you book online, you will have to make the credit card payment when booking). The cost was the same in either case, i.e. E 11 for the admission ticket (because they have a special exhibit that day), plus E 4 for booking fee. I was told to just land up at Door # 3 of Uffizi , 10 minutes before my time slot, and give the confirmation number, pay on the spot, and go in. Long lines are avoided, and no advance payment.

2. Vatican Museums, Rome : I went online to the official Vatican site :
http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do
I just wanted to book entry tickets for the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel. I could select my date and time slot that I desired. Had to enter the names of all 4 people in my group. Got an instant e-mail confirmation. Had to open the e-mail within 10 minutes, and click on the link provided. I got another e-mail, giving the voucher for my entry, with instructions to take it to a special counter at the entrance, pay on the spot, and enter. Cost was E 16 for entry ticket, plus E 4 for booking fee. No advance payment, no credit card details required. I believe the same procedure applies even for guided tours. It was really easy and efficient.

3. Colosseum Underground Tour : I called up the official number : +39 06 39967700. Again, the instructions first come in Italian, followed by English. Follow the instructions, and you are immediately connected to an English operator. Wait time of less than 30 seconds. Once again, good English, no accent problems. Wanted to book an Underground Tour of Colosseum (English Tour). Was told the time slots available on my selected date. Selected my time slot. She asked me if we would use a Roma Pass for entry (if so, you only have to pay E 9.50 extra for the tour). I did not intend to use the Roma Pass, so I was told that I would have to pay the entry ticket price of E 12 + underground tour price of E 9.50 + booking fee of E 1.00 = total of E 22.50 per person. The entry ticket of E 12 would be also valid for Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. I had to give my credit card details on phone, plus my e-mail address. It took a few seconds for her to approve my credit card transaction. She gave me a Confirmation number, and promised to send a confirmatory mail the next day. We have to show up at the special window at Colosseum 20 minutes in advance, collect our tickets and join the tour.

4. Palazzo Valentini, Rome (Le Domus Romano show): This show has become quite popular in Rome, and gets rave reviews. There are only 2 English shows a day, and only 14 people in each show, so they book up fast. I called up on their official telephone number : +39 06 32810 . Again, instructions in Italian, followed by English. Was connected to an English operator in a few seconds. The show costs E 11.50, and there is no booking fee. But you do have to pay by credit card in advance. Again, I selected my date and time slot. Gave credit card details. Was given a confirmation number, and told to just show up with the confirmation number at the allotted time.

I am sure there are many other attractions in Italy that require advance bookings. I do not intend to visit any other that fall in this category. Just thought I would put together my experiences for the 4 attractions that I booked, in case it is of help to others.

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