Vatican and St. Peters

Old Jan 12th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Vatican and St. Peters

We will be in Rome the last weekend of July. We would like to see the Vatican and know that it is free the last Sunday of the month. Does anyone have any suggestions on what time to go and what order to go in to avoid the most crowds if we do decide to go on Sunday? We have young children so we mainly would like to see the Sistine Chapel and move on to St. Peters and then to Castel Sant'Angelo. Or should we just pay to avoid the madness? Thanks for any help!

Tina
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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The only way to pay to avoid the crowds is the 250Euro per person after hours tour. Even if you are on an organized tour you still need to wait in line to get through security. The tour will let you avoid the secondary line to buy tickets once inside and past security.

The only way to get to the Sistine Chapel is to go through the entire Vatican museum.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 01:49 PM
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If I might add a side warning - I would not plan on St. Peters basilica (including the dome!?), the Vatican Museums, Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel and the Castel Sant'Angelo all in the same day. Is there any way to divide all this between two days?
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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Yeah, the Vatican is probably always going to be crowded, but I followed advice from a friend and we just charged through as quickly as we could not spending a lot of time looking at all the apartments, so we could really spend more time in the Chapel. I was surprised and happy to see how they maintain quiet and order - it's worth zipping past the German, Japanese and American tour groups.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 02:52 PM
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The Vatican Museums are always crowded; they are especially crowded in the summer, and on a free Sunday in July, they are going to be unbearable. There is no airconditioning by the way, so you are going to be very hot amongst all those people. I say all this as background for my next recommendation. You say you have "young children." If those children are under 8, I would not take them to the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel AT ALL. I would only consider taking 8-12 year olds if they are very patient and on some relatively uncrowded day. Kids under eight will remember very little from a visit to the Museum except that they were surrounded by a sea of adult legs. That is especially true for kids in strollers. I have taken my girls to Italy several times already, starting when they were 4 and 7. They have still not been to the Vatican Museums but we may attempt to go this March now that they are 13 and 10. But since it's Easter time, and crowded, I may give it a pass.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 05:19 PM
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Agree that you have no idea how mobbed, and how hot and humid the Vatican Museums will be on the free Sunday. Not a thing I would do with small kids - since they won;t enjoy it. (Stroller kids can easily be tripped over - since there are so many people you can;t see the floor.)

If they are old enough to enjoy the museum (over 6 at a minimum) I would go on the least crowded day - not the most.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 05:32 PM
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In terms of rushing through to the Sistine Chapel and "avoiding" the museum ... the entire museum is spectacular. Much of what I saw in the museum rivaled the Sistine Chapel (which was fantastic).

Honestly, I think most kids would hate it. But ... depending on how old they are, they may be fascinated by -- or creeped out -- by the dead popes on display in St. Peters.

I wished I'd had a full day to do just the museum and St. Peter's--but I didn't have kids in tow.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 05:46 PM
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I found a way to take cuts....you pay for a Scavi tour and it dumps you out in the basement. From there you can cut the line by veering right after the inclined exit by the gift shop alley and merging with the flow going in the front doors....

The secret Sistine exit(for the tours) if you can blend in (unless they don't do it anymore)will dump you in the church. The last half of the museum is mostly a long hallway...If you can get in the museum without a line you can do it...After 1:00 there was no line for us..Now there is a museum excavation tour where doe that let you out???
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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But we're talking about a free Sunday in July... no amount of plotting or planning will make this very pleasant.

There are some ways to work this in to a slightly more comfortable adventure but none of them have anything to do with a free Sunday, especially in July.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 05:58 PM
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St. Peters Church is ALWAYS free as are all the Catholic churches in Europe. The inside of The Vatican is spectacular!! Your children will love the Church. The altar is sectacular and Michaelangelo's PIETA is so lifelike it "breathes"! It should be much cooler than the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If you think you will NEVER again be in Rome -- Then you MUST see the Sistine Chapel (regardless of the ages of the children!) It is a "once in a lifetime" experience!
Also, when doing the Vatican, please consider going to the DOME. The view over all of Rome and looking down into the gardens of the Papal City is beautiful. You will be on the rooftop right next to the gorgeous statues of the apostles that you can see from the massive courtyard below. Hope your children are old enough to do the walk up the stairs (elevator only goes part way up. Also, when walking up, you can step out and see the lovely mosaics of the INNER DOME of St. Peters. Don't bypass this. (There will be a line for the elevator also).
Castel Sant'Angelo is a pleasant walk from St. Peters, but if your children are young, it may be too much for them. Castel Sant'Angelo is nice but don't shortchange the VATICAN!
It is the premier church in the world. Give it all the time it deserves. Have a wonderful trip. What lucky children!!
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 06:10 PM
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We went with our children when they were 7 and 10, along with another family with children of same ages. It was incredibly crowded as it was Easter week; I agree that the atmosphere can make you nervous with young children who really want to move around and are a bit noisy. I remember being "shushed" in the sistine chapel by the ushers there and my husband just left with our youngest. However, I do believe that the Vatican museums are something to see. All of the kids on our trip particularly enjoyed the stone statues of animals. Really depends on the children. My advice is to WATCH your wallet. Our friends wallet was stolen from a front pocket on the bus to the Vatican. We then learned that is the busiest pickpocket place in all of Rome. Enjoy. It is worth it to see the Vatican.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 06:17 PM
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I hate to sound like a real wet blanket, but there is no way I'd attempt to take an 8 and 5 year old into the museum...and the only way to the Chapel is through the museum. The crowds are better termed "hordes." And, a Roman July is like no other! No air-conditioning anywhere; no place to sit down; nothing to drink, and no way to get out of the tour once you've started. If it were me, I'd take the kids into St. Peter's and call it a day.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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This may sound sacrilegious but when I went to the museum I was so disappointed in the chapel...Why? well the major thing was they had the illumination off! Can you imagine a room packed with standing people in sweltering heat with these beautiful images and you cant really see them? If you can go back to the museum I would save that till they get older
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 04:22 AM
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Well, some pros and cons...

Pros - Daughter took her 6 and 10 year olds on the Vatican sponsored tour, they loved it. The 6 year old said it was her favorite part of the entire trip. Pay for the tour (23 euros each)or do it in reverse and try to do the museum in the afternoon, when the crowds have thinned.

Cons - It was in winter. The free Sundays are a madhouse. July will be unbearably hot. Afternoon will be even hotter.

Pros - If you get an early tour, say by 10:30, then you'll exit (use the right side door at the Sistine) directly to St. Peters at around 1pm. The dome entrance is right there. Figure an hour for the dome. Spend a couple of hours in St. Peters and walk over to Castel Sant'Angelo. You can pull this off, timewise.

Cons - After the museum, climbing the dome and walking the Basilica, the kids may be worn completely out, or you.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 05:24 AM
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Hypatia, The Scavi tour is only available for participants 15 years and up.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 05:39 AM
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How long does it generally take to get a response from the Scavi Tour people? I emailed them 12 days ago for an upcoming trip, and haven't heard back yet. Is this business as usual, or should I email again?
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 05:52 AM
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Holly-I emailed them a request on the 3rd. Heard back on the 9th that they were closed on the day I requested (Good Friday) and emailed them right back for a different day. Got a reply, and acceptance, on the 12th.
You might try again.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 06:04 AM
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Thanks, Kristina. I will do that.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 01:39 PM
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Thank you all for the responses. The girls are 11 and 8 and would like to see some parts of the museum so I think that we will skip the free day and do it on Friday. Will it be much less crowded in the afternoon? Any ideas on the order we should try to do things?

Thanks!
Tina
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 03:12 PM
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You can purchase advance entry tickets from several online vendors, which get you in before the normal crowds. I think the cost is about the same as the Vatican sponsored tours (23 euros). This gives you entry around 8am and again at 9am (I think).

Spend time in the museum, it is worth it. When you get to the room with the tapestries, be sure to study the last two. As you walk by them, the perspective will change completely. The kids will love it, once they realize the optical illusion. The last one with the table is more pronounced than the one with Jesus.

With the School of Athens, have your kids try to learn about the people that Raphael placed into the fresco.

In the Sistine, be sure to point out to the kids how Michelangelo changed his manner of detail on the chapel ceiling.

The Last Judgement is also great. Have them learn the story of the Cardinal (located at the bottom right of the fresco), it is pretty funny.
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