Visiting the Vatican

Old Jan 13th, 2010, 11:15 AM
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Visiting the Vatican

Roughly how much time do you think a traveler should plan to spend standing in line to get through security and see St. Peter's Cathedral and then see the Sistine Chapel? Thanks for sharing any information on recent experiences. Ours were all before the current emphasis on security.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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If you go early, say around 8:30 AM, you shouldn't stand in the line for St. Peter's any more than 5 minutes.

Keith and I were just at St. Peter's in September, 2009, and we moved briskly through security at 8:45 AM.

The line starts to get heavy around 11:00 AM.

I am no expert, but I am almost positive that you have to enter the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel. That's what we did. We had reservations--there is a separate line at the entrance to the Vatican Museum. Also, the entrance to the Vatican Museum is about a 15-minute walk from St. Peter's.

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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 11:35 AM
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St. Peter's is not a cathedral; it's a basilica. The cathedral of Rome is San Giovanni in Laterano. Security has been in place at St. Peter's for many years; it has probably not been increased recently, except perhaps for papal masses. The security line is long, but it moves quickly.

The Sistine Chapel is not connected to the basilica; it is part of the Vatican Museums. Timed entry to the Vatican Museums can be reserved online, eliminating all waiting. The Sistine Chapel is at the end of the Vatican Museums route, and it is possible by exiting the chapel through the tour group door to access St. Peter's basilica without going through security.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 12:45 PM
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It depends which way round you do this.

The way you're suggesting: allow 15 mins for security at St Peter's (though up to half an hour, I discovered, if you're unfortunate) however long you allow for the church itself, another 15 mins from its exit to the Vatican Museums entrance and 5-10 mins (or, last time I did it, 0.1 minute) for security.

The quicker way: the Museums first: 5 mins security, 90 mins to get through them to the Sistine Chapel (assuming something, but not much, of the world's most amazing museum distracts you). Then turn round with your back to the altar, go into the antechapel and take the staircase on your right (which has a sign up saying something like "Groups Only"). A minute later, you're in the gallery that runs round the outside of St Peter's - and still inside the secure zone, so you don't need to go through security again. Gawp at, or worship in, St Peter's at your leisure.

Trouble with that route is you can't leave anything in the cloakrooms at the Museums entrance. If you need to do that. you take the left hand staircase in the Sistine antechapel, get back to the museums entrance, leave the secure area, hike for 15 minutes back to St Peter's Square then queue up again for security.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 12:58 PM
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Hi Julie, Maybe others can comment on their experience also, but when I tried on my last trip to Rome, which was about 3 yrs ago, to get an online reservation for the Vatican museums, it never came through. I think others here have had the same problem. Maybe someone else has more up to date info. Also, if you haven't on a previous trip, have you thought about taking the Scavi tour of the Vatican? It also can be reserved online through the Vatican website. It sometimes takes awhile to get confirmation, and you have to give a few different days of availability when making your reservation. It seemed to me that at the time I went, they would wait until a month or two before, to give notification of the timeslot. I don't know what your interests are, but if you enjoy history, religion, or archaelogy, this might be of interest to you. I think it is my all time favorite tour. Have a wonderful time on your trip. pp
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 01:10 PM
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We had no problem whatsoever scheduling our visit online for last November. I think you cannot do it until about two months ahead but then I chose the day and the time, printed out the receipt and we went to the front of the line. The line at 9:30 am stretched down the block for quite a ways. I was very glad we didn't have to wait in that line.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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A recommendation for Context Tours. We did a tour of the Vatican, including the museum, St. Peters and surrounds. Absolutely great tour guide, who is a museusm specialist/
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 06:36 PM
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>>>3 yrs ago, to get an online reservation for the Vatican museums, it never came through.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 07:22 PM
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In October 2008, we visited the Vatican on a Wednesday and, surprisingly, we were able to get very close to the audience for the Papal Mass. Went for lunch around the corner and returned when St. Peter's re-opened at 1:00. Very short line, which totally surprised us because a few years prior it was really long.

We were there again two weeks ago (December 30th) and the lines were long, long, long. My daughter and grandson went on the Scavi Tour at 3:30 (we had gone last year) and we waited at a cafe, then all came back on January 2 to try to go into St. Peter's again. Even though it was a Saturday and a holiday weekend, the lines were not as long as earlier in the week. We also found they got shorter in mid-afternoon. We were in line about an hour before entering. Three lines were open for security so that moved quickly.

I would highly recommend the Scavi Tour. Just put in your request many months in advance.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 08:08 PM
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When we took the Scavi tour two summers ago, we were able to enter the basilica from the endpoint of the tour without having to go through the security lines.
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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Thank you all so much. This is extremely helpful. I saw those lines once and figured they'd take hours, Good to know that they move fast. Makes everything seem much more doable.
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