Vatican City questions

May 6th, 2001, 11:05 AM
  #1  
Lorraine
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Vatican City questions

I plan to tour the Vatican Museum and St Peter's on Wed 5/23 and wondered about the most efficient way of getting it all in. My tentative plan is to be in line for the museum at 8:15. (Question: does taking a private tour eliminate the need to stand in line?) Upon entering, get audio tour CD and go directly to Sistine Chapel. Then backtrack (can you do that?) through the museum exhibits I wish to see, spending all morning. (I have no plans to see the Pope at 11 am, but does the audience interfere with sightseeing?)

At 1:30 I have tickets for the Scavi tour under St Peters--don't know how long that lasts. I may have time to visit inside St Peter's before the tour (is there a line to get in?). If there isn't time, after the tour I'd see St Peter's and climb the dome. Since the church is open until 7, I should have enough time. What do you think?
 
May 6th, 2001, 12:44 PM
  #2  
xx
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Lorraine, you have to wait in line either way. I'd be in line earlier if I were you, everyone has the same idea - get there early to get in line, and it ends up looking like a U2 Concert ticket line by the time the doors open.

I think you will find it very difficult to backtrack against the crowds of people, if it is even possible as I've never tried it myself. The Vatican has crowd control measures in place, and it's tough to get around them.

The mass takes place in St Peter's, which is in a separate building from the museum and Sistine Chapel. You can easily spend all day in the Vatican museum, but I tend to average 4-5 hours including the Sistine Chapel. You should be able to meet the tour for the Scavi tour, and there's never been a line to get into St Peter's. A note on clothing - be sure to have your shoulders and knees covered, as the guards can refuse you entrance to St Peter's if you are not dressed modestly.
 
May 6th, 2001, 01:36 PM
  #3  
Ed
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8:15 is good: 8:00 is probably better. Particularly in the morning the tour line will be as long as the individual line.

Admission to St. Peter's will be shut off during the Papal Audience if it's held in the square. (Could be in the Sala Audienza depending on weather.)

If you get out of the museums in a couple of hours (which we normally would, but this clearly depends on your interests and museum-patience) don't worry about getting to St. Peter's and trying to squeeze it in before the Scavi tour. Enjoy a nice lunch in the area.

The Scavi takes an hour or so, so you'll be out by 3 pm. The basilica is open until 6 or 7 but the roof may be only until 5. You'll want to check, but if so, don't leave the roof/cupola to the end.

twenj
 
May 6th, 2001, 03:27 PM
  #4  
Lorraine
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Thank you both. An older posting had talked about going directly to the Sistine Chapel and then backtracking to the museum exhibits, but now it sounds inadvisable.
 
May 6th, 2001, 04:11 PM
  #5  
Gerry
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Lorraine:
To split it up, in March we went to the Papal audience one day and then left. Came back another day and went to the Scavi tour(12 noon) St. Peters and Vatican Museum. No waiting at Vatican museum. But as it was late we rushed to the Sistine Chapel first. Then could not figure how to get back to see what we missed. You can't go back through the narrow coridors against the traffic. I too was following a guide book's advice (Rick Steve's ?). We were directed toward the exit and the return was barricaded off and we couldn't return. But, this was close to closing time.
I've never seen any waiting to get into St. Peter's Basilica. But, there was a long line waiting for the elevator to the dome. I would not have expected that.
 
May 7th, 2001, 04:38 AM
  #6  
elaine
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I've been thinking that one of the best hints I'd noted from this forum regarding seeing the Vatican museums was the one about going to the Sistine first
(early in the morning) and then backtracking to see the rest. Can this actually be done, or not?
 
May 7th, 2001, 11:03 AM
  #7  
Gerry
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Elaine:

I'd like to know too. Maybe someone will answer. I can tell you that you have to go through several 100 yards of about 4 foot wide corridors to get to the Sistine Chapel. I would definately not try to go against traffic back that way. You would have to go to the exit and return. Don't know if you can do that.
Things constantly change and old guides don't keep up. One of the best tips, I thought, was in the 1999 Blue Guide. They said to take the shuttle bus from the tourist office at St Peters Square. Leaves every 20 minutes and goes through the Vatican gardens (fee tour) to back enterance of Vatican Museum--no line! Sound good? When we and some other tourists asked about this we were told that that bus stopped running more than 2 years ago. If anybody is going to try his tip--sorry.

Need help with this question . Ed? Anybody?

Thanks,

Gerry
 
May 7th, 2001, 11:07 AM
  #8  
Gerry
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"fee tour" should read "FREE tour"

Sorry
 
May 7th, 2001, 01:28 PM
  #9  
Ed
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Indeed, the free bus has been gone for about two years sadly.

The go Sistine first and retrace steps route is a good one. We've done it.

The rub? It seems it's not consistently permitted. It may depend on the route they're using at that particular time (we've been over at least a half dozen different routes), the staff on duty that day, or the mood of the staff that day.

The four foot corridors are not a particular problem. We've swum upstream in those circumstances and while slow it's quite doable. The trick is whether they'll let you. I can provide no guarantees they will.
 
May 7th, 2001, 01:55 PM
  #10  
Gerry
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Thanks Ed.
Hoped you'd be there.
When we went in March there was a a cross-over point near the exit where you could have gone back to the beginning of the museum. But, it was barricaded off and guarded. No traffic in either direction. It would have been an ideal return if we could do it. Is this crossover always closed now?

Thanks again,

Gerry
 
May 7th, 2001, 02:56 PM
  #11  
elaine
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ohh..no..
Maybe no swimming upstream permitted?
Just when I thought I'd cracked it!

And I'd seen some tour offerings that claim they can "help" bypass some of the crowds. Guess not, huh?
This may be the first time that
there isn't some "secret" strategy that will help. I've been so proud of myself in other places about knowing in advance some of the plan-ahead advantages
like Uffizi reservations but I guess the Vatican may be "hope for the best but plan for the worst".
 
May 7th, 2001, 03:35 PM
  #12  
elaine
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Just to keep Lorraine and me confused, I just found the following recommendation on the useful
enjoyrome website:

"During high season, we suggest that you go in the afternoon, when the crowds are much lighter, and if possible, to avoid Saturday entirely"

Afternoon? And they close at 1:45?
 
May 7th, 2001, 03:58 PM
  #13  
Ed
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1:45 is the "winter" closing time. It's 16:45 (last admission 1530)now and into October.

That's a fair, just fair, strategy, some days. But not always. And if you've not been there before you'll not know how long you'll want to spend.

Julie calls me a spoilsport on vacation since I regret time lost sleeping in. Painful as it is, I generally prefer to get up and get a good start on the day, especially in Rome.

You'll not be surprised, then, to find I continue to, strongly, favor the "get on line at 8am" strategy. But if you can't stir from bed too early, don't bother to show up at 9 or 10 ... better then, usually, to try in the afternoon.
 
May 7th, 2001, 04:01 PM
  #14  
Gerry
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Elaine:

They closed at 4:30 PM in March. Its hard to get up to date information. Seems the hours at all sites change constantly.
We went about 2PM and there was no line. But, still crowded. Went to Uffizi in Florence at 8AM and had to wait 2 hours to get in. Everybody wants to beat the crowd at the same time. Result?--Crowds. Probably afternoon is better. No guarantees.

Gerry
 
May 8th, 2001, 06:00 AM
  #15  
elaine
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thanks all
Dare I ask another question?
So which of the four Vatican museum
tours would you recommend first thing in the morning? A, which
I believe is shortest and would get me to the Sistine fastest, although I'd be skipping a lot of treasures? Or, the longest tour (D?) which can take hours, but in which I will TRY to skip ahead to the Sistine and then backtrack.
I am a dedicated early-riser and museum
aficionado, but I hate very large crowds when I'm trying to appreciate art.
I'm wondering if I should go to the Vatican twice (I'll be back for Scavi and St Peter's anyway), once to skip a lot and try to see the Sistine in relative peace, second time to more leisurely stroll in the other museum areas.
And how does the acousitiguide fit into the strategy?
 
May 8th, 2001, 06:38 AM
  #16  
vat
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Lorraine, Elaine, et al.:

You asked about the acoustiguide. All I know is that when we rented one, we had to leave our passports as security at the entrance. So we had to backtrack to return the acoustiguide.

I seem to recall, though, that as we walked back through the corridors, we were accosted by someone who allowed us to continue after we explained the purpose of the backtrack. So, I wouldn't count on doing this, and heaven knows they might change how they do things. (heaven would know, being the Vatican, now wouldn't it? gt;) )

A word of warning. Mondays are also bad, unless the museum was open on the Sunday (last one of the month only.)

Okay, confused enough yet?
 
May 8th, 2001, 07:45 AM
  #17  
ofelia
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we were there last year end of may and we were very early on our own. We went straight to Sistine chapel and with lots of people it is hard to go back since you are against the traffic especially we want to see Raphael's room after Sistine chapel. Also, when we were there.. the tour groups were allowed to enter ahead (one hour early) than us (we are on our own) . There is short-cut exit in sistine chapel to St peter's used by tour groups. I was thinking of using it but with the audio tape to return at Vatican museum exit, its not possible. So we had to walk around the vatican wall (about 15-20 minutes walk).

ofelia
 
May 8th, 2001, 09:32 AM
  #18  
Shannon
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Just returned from Italy on Sunday. We tried to do the entire Vatican on a Wednesday morning, not realizing that we wouldn't be able to get in to St Peters until about 1:30. Since we had arrived at about 8 am, we went to the Museum (it was hard to find, wish I had brought along the guidebook). We waited in line until the Museum opened up at 8:45, and it was then a mad rush to get to the Sistine Chapel. I wished I hadpaid more attention to the exhibits along the way (because I didn't realize we would have a hard time backtracking...should have brought the book). By the time we finally got to the Chapel, it wasn't even that crowded. When we left the museum at about 10:30 am, we went back inside to go to the gift shop. Of course, there was absolutely no line to get in at this time. We ended up coming back the next day to go to St Peters

-Shannon
 
May 8th, 2001, 10:11 AM
  #19  
Jean Valjean
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If you want a quick exit of the Sistine Chapel and a much quicker way to get back to Saint Peter's square, maybe you should consider exiting the museums at the Chapel

As you go in, you'll notice that the Last Judgement (altar wall) is right behind you. On the wall to your right, at the far end, you'll see a door that says "tour groups only" or something like that. Wait for a group to exit. Follow them. You'll be exiting to the aisle to the right of Saint Peter's Basillica.

Sure beats going back to the entrance of the museums.
 

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