Papal audience / Vatican tour Questions

Old Oct 8th, 2006, 05:58 AM
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Papal audience / Vatican tour Questions

Hi All, this is such a great board with wonderful people --see how I suck up before I beg for info?--

Anyway, we have planned for the 27th of Dec to be our "Vatican Day". We have reservations to the Wed. Papal Audience. So here is the thought, see if this works or not...

We'll arrive early (like 7:30) at the Vatican to get into the queue for museum/Sistine tickets. Figure to try to see the Sistine Chapel first, then wait around to do the audience. Afternoon--see the museums.

Since the audience and the Vatican tours seem to be at the same time, it doesn't look like we can do them, so we figure best to go on our own.

Question is, if we buy the museum tickets, are we allowed to leave and return on the same day? I've read that by going to the Sistine first, you miss most of the crowds. I've also read that the crowds drop in the afternoon.

So, my savvy Fodorite friends, is this realistic? Or is there a better way of doing this?

Thanks all,

Dave
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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 06:14 AM
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Do you mind being in the way back for the audience? People show up very early to get good seats for the audience. We were two hours early ...got good center aisle seats, but half-way back. I imagine that people wouldn't arrive so early in the winter.
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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 06:32 AM
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I haven't done the papal audience, but we did go to the museum and sistine chapel last Easter. Here's the problem - you can't get to the sistine chapel without going through the museums. Even without a load of people in front of you, you would be hard pressed to get round in less than two hours.
also, my impression is that if you want to see anything, you have to get to the papal audience pretty early.
Plus, after the audience, you would have to queue for the museums all over again!
IMO you should consider doing the museums and chapel on a different day, and schedule something else for after th epapal audince - what about a trip over into Trastevere and see Sant' Cecilia - beautiful atmosphere and lovely mosaics in the crypt - that would repserve the holy atmosphere, I think.
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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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I agree that it would be too much to see in one day, and Ann's suggestion to go to Trastevere and see St. Cecelia is an excellent one-this IS a must-see church in Rome, IMO-the mosaics are truly beautiful, and you can soak up the atmosphere of Trastevere, an authentic Roman neighborhood with great restaurants as well.

I would also HIGHLY recommend that you apply (on yet another day) for tickets to the Vatican Necropolis tour (SCAVI)- I did this a few weeks ago, and I can tell you, it exceeded my expectations tenfold. It was funny, as our guide removed the velvet rope for our group to go down, people in the regular Vatican tours were watching, and then asked where we were going, and could they go too? Sorry, you have to make a reservation a couple of months in advance!

You do get to see what the Church believes are the bones of St. Peter, in addition to fascinating frescoes, some Etruscan in nature, and the beautiful altar below the main altar above ground that is used by the Pope on certain occasions-really fascinating. The Scavi tour cost is 10 Euros per person.
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Old Oct 9th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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Yeah, the idea of doing the museums on one day and the audience on another may be the way to go. My thinking was that there would be larger crowds on a Wednesday because of the audience.

We are applying for the necropolis tour, hopefully we can get that one too.

Is it true that the crowds drop considerably in the afternoons?

Thanks all,

Dave
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Old Oct 10th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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Hi again - I think that the info given by he last poster may be a little misleading. so far as I know, the only group tours [apart from really expensive private ones] that enable you to by-pass the queues to get into the vatican are the official ones, which require you to fax a number in the vatican, [see the vatican web-site] and pray that they answer you in time! Otherwise, the groups line up with everyone else.
It is rumoured that lunch time is a good time to get in, and I suppose if you started queing at 3am, you might be at the head of the line, but apart from that, your guess is as good as anyone else's. I can only tell you that the first day we tried, we got there at 10ma, and the queue was back to ST. Peter's; the 2nd time we were there before 9am, and we were in by 10.15.
We didn't do the Scavi tour as i hadn't heard of it then [found this board too late] but all the reports of it are good. It also needs booking as far ahead as possible.
Good luck!
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Old Oct 10th, 2006, 02:08 PM
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We reserved an official tour through the Vatican, and in so doing, were able to skip the queue - it was SO worth it! I faxed the request about a month in advance, and I provided the address/phone/fax of the hotel in Rome where I would be staying, along with the dates I was staying there. When I arrived at the hotel, the faxed response from the Vatican was there waiting. The tour was interesting and informative . . . and we skipped what looked to be the longest line I have ever seen.
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Old Oct 10th, 2006, 11:55 PM
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It is true that the queue to get into the Vatican Museum is more manageable in the afternoon. We did a Through Eternity vatican tour, and that is what our guide told us. So we spent the morning touring the basilica with the guide, then headed for the museums after lunch and got in within half hour of joining the queue. (And no, group tours have to line up with everyone else, unless its the official tour, like annhig said).

Also, the papal audience on wednesday is worth going for. People do come very early to get good seats.

And finally, if you can get reservations for the Scavi tour, it is truly amazing. It was the highlight of our trip to Rome.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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We were told that the crowds are lightest at the Vatican on Tuesdays. On Wednesday afternoon, even several hours after the audience, the area was packed.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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Thank you everyone, what great information!!!

We learned that the Necropolis tour isn't being done during the days we are in Rome. We'll try to see if we can get a Vatican tour for Tuesday.

Once again, thank you all!!! Fodorites rule.

Dave
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