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Vatican Dress Code
To enter the Musei Vaticani, the Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica di San Pietro you must comply with the Vatican's dress code, or you will be turned away by the implacable custodians stationed at the doors. (Also no penknives, which will show up under the metal detector.) For both men and women, shorts and tank tops are taboo, as are miniskirts and other revealing clothing. Wear a jacket or shawl over sleeveless tops, and avoid T-shirts with writing or pictures that could risk giving offense. If you opt to start at the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums), note that the entrance on Viale Vaticano (there's a separate exit on the same street) can be reached by Bus No. 49 from Piazza Cavour, which stops right in front; or on foot from Piazza del Risorgimento (Bus 81 or Tram 19) or a brief walk from the Via Cipro-Musei Vaticani stop on Metro line A. The collections of the museums are immense, covering about 7 km (4½ mi) of displays. You can rent a taped commentary in English explaining the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms. You're free to photograph what you like, barring use of flash, tripod, or other special equipment, for which permission must be obtained. To economize on time and effort, once you've seen the frescoes in the Raphael rooms, you can skip much of modern religious art in good conscience, and get on with your tour. With more than 4.5 million visitors in 2008 alone, recession notwithstanding, lines at the entrance to the Capella Sistina (Sistine Chapel) can move slowly, as custodians block further entrance when the room becomes crowded. Keep in mind that sometimes it's possible to exit the museums from the Sistine Chapel into St. Peter's, saving further legwork. A sign at the entrance to the museums indicates whether the "For Tour Groups" exit is open, which you can use if you just follow an exiting tour group.
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