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St. Peter's Basillica-are tour guides worth it?

St. Peter's Basillica-are tour guides worth it?

Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 10:40 AM
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St. Peter's Basillica-are tour guides worth it?

We are booking tours of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. I am trying to decide if I should buy the tour that includes the Basillica or if we can just see that on our own. Does the tour guide add a lot to the visit?

We are looking at Italy with Us for booking the tour. The student discount is much greater than Walks of Italy.

I believe that by choosing the one that includes the Basillica tour we will avoid long lines to enter the Basillica after our tour of the Museum and Sistine Chapel.

This will be the end of May. We have a request in for the Scavi Tour-so if we are lucky enough to get that tour we will end in St. Peter's anyway?

Thanks for Any help!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 10:53 AM
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hi cindy,

I don't know if a guide adds much to a tour of the vatican museums as I've never used one, but having just come back from Rome, and visited the vatican museums while we were there, I can't see any reason why you shouldn't take advantage of the door at the rear of the sistine chapel to take advantage of the short-cut into st. Peter's even if you don't have a guide for that part.

you just take the door and smile sweetly at the people you might encounter on your way.

That said, the scavi tour does end up with you still the right side of the security barriers so you could get into that way too.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:22 AM
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Ann-thanks for the response. I had forgotten "the door" that leads to the Basillica. Have you used it before? Is it marked so I will recognize it?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:43 AM
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cindy, it's not marked by anything except a small notice saying official groups only, but you can't miss it - it's at the back of the s/chapel on the right [with your back to the entrance]. there is another exit behind the screen on the left which leads back into the museums - it's obvious when you're there which is which.

We've used it both times that we've visited the museums with no trouble at all, and neither time were we with an official group.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:45 AM
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Cindy, did you consider booking your tour directly with the vatican? The cost is considerably less than the group tours elsewhere. We are also traveling at the end of May.

I was considering walks of italy for the colisseum tour. Those are the only two official tours I am planning on.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Just a few fragments of info:

1) The Scavi tour, if you take it, does end in the Basilica.

2) I've also used the "group" exit door from the Sistine (it's the one on the right). Sometimes the guard is standing there; you just have to hang around until he's gone.

3) Others will surely disagree, but I found the St. Peter's walking tour included in Rick Steves' guidebook to be as good as anything I've heard from a guide.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 11:57 AM
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I'm going to put in another plug for getting a guide for the forum.

i've now been 3 times, each time without a guide, and I'm just beginning to get the idea of the place though I think that it helps a lot that they have opened up the Palatine hill so that you can go straight from one to the other.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 12:16 PM
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We want to get the tour in order to enter at 8 am before the public opening. It seems worth it to us to be able to be in Sistine Chapel without all the crowds.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 01:30 PM
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cindy - that's a very good reason for doing it. the sistine chapel is definitely somewhere that could benefit from having fewer people in it.

i hope that you enjoy the experience.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 05:05 PM
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Good plan, Cindy. On our last visit, it was packed. A total absolute zoo & it ruined the experience. And my wife & I got separated in the melee & she went left & I went right . . .

And do not miss the dome. Certainly one of the best photo opps in Rome.

Ian
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Hi Cindywho,

Many years ago we took a St. Peter’s tour offered by American Express in Rome. We left from their office near the Spanish Steps. The guide was great – looked and sounded like a retired Shakespearean actor. He whisked us through the streets with appropriate narration.

He led us into St. Peter’s slowly, having us stop to appreciate the Pieta before entering the main part of the basilica. We had plenty of time to explore on our own before he escorted us around to the Museum entrance, quite a distance away. He knew all the guards so our entry to the museums was speedy.

We ended at the Sistine Chapel which was quite crowded but by then it was late morning. I recall thinking to myself, “This is a Tuesday in February, what must this place be like in the summer?”

If you can get a tour earlier in the day, go for it…
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 08:57 PM
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If you have time as it is very detailed with photos read thru this website and print-out the things that interest you.
www.saintpetersbasilica.org
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 03:07 AM
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also a good idea to do some study of the sistine CHapel before you go - the lighting is not that good and it takes a little while to adjust and to realise what you are seeing. Small binoculars are also useful for picking out details.

as for the Dome, i agree that that is well worth doing too. you get a wonderful close-up view of the mosaics that you can only see in the distance from ground level, and the views from the top are terrific. The most surprising thing for me was what I found at roof level [behind all the statues that overlook the front of the Basilica]. Not only some lovely patterns made by the roofs themselves, but also a cafe and loos - who knew?
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