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What should/should not see while touring the Vatican

What should/should not see while touring the Vatican

Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 06:45 AM
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What should/should not see while touring the Vatican

I have hired a tour guide to take my family of 5 to the Vatican/Sistine Chapel. Sites offer so many different bits of advice...start her then go here...don't miss the Raphael room....end at Sistine Chapel, etc.....
Do you have any suggestions on which way to tackle this splendid tour. We have her for as long as we want. With three kids I'm guessing 3 or 4 hours max will be our limit.
I do want to try to climb the stairs to the very top. The tour guide won't do that but said we could do it after she leaves.....Is it smart to end in the Sistine Chapel..many have said that but this particular guide does it different but will do what we want. Help. I want this to be the best it can be.
Thx
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 06:57 AM
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Most people end in the Sistine Chapel because it's sort of a natural progression: Start in Vatican Square and the Vatican proper, walk through the Vatican Museum, which leads to the SC.

I'm curious about why the guide wants to do it another way, and how the guide would conduct the tour at the SC. The security people there tend to discourage conversations in the chapel, and I can't recall seeing tour groups (being led by a guide) when I was there.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 07:04 AM
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I have been to the Vatican City twice. Both times we started in the Vatican Museum, worked our way through the fabulous 'hallways' and then then entered the Sistine Chapel. We then went in to St. Peter's Basilica. While each and every statue is amazing a stop at the Pieta is a must. I would also suggest allowing sufficient time to go downstairs to the Grottoes where various Popes, nobles and gentry are entombed. I would also suggest getting tickets for the Scavi Tour. Scavi means excavation. You tour under the Basilica and see the oldest tombs of the ancient Christians and eventually you are in front of what is believed to be the original tomb of St. Peter.

Timing is the most important factor. On Wednesday the Pope holds his audience in St. Paul's Hall. During this time the Basilica is closed (10am to 2pm approximately). Once the audience is over all present then tour the Chapel and the Basilica. It is quite crowded and makes it difficult to get close to some of the items of interest. The time of year would also impact on the number of tourists. Last October it was almost impossible to move in the Sistine Chapel. However the first time I went was in late November and we had the Chapel to ourselves.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 07:07 AM
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Thanks for your words of wisdom....I will contact the guide and get her specifics then alter them to what is suggested here....I'm going to research the Scavi tours....do I need my guide for that?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 07:12 AM
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The Vatican Museums are a huge complex of connected buildings and museums. The museum buildings are virtually next to St Peter's, but the entrance to the museums are at the other end of the complex from St Peter's. The Sistine Chapel is part of the museums and is in a section quite near St Peter's.

The average visitor will tour the various museums and then head back to the main entrance to exit. This is especially important if you must return an audioguide or if you must retrieve personal items from the coatcheck. However, once you exit the museums from the main entrance, to reach St Peter's you must walk all the way around the Vatican walls to get to the other side, probably 3/4 of a mile at least.

People suggest ending at the Sistine Chapel if you plan to visit St Peter's immediately after your visit to the museums because there is a sneaky way to avoid the long walk around the walls. Visitors enter the chapel from one door, proceed through the chapel, and follow signs to exit through a door on the left, which leads back into the museum complex. Signs also indicate a "group" exit on the right. This group exit leads to a staircase and quick exit right next to St Peter's, saving the long walk as well as bypassing the security check. In fact the staircase ends right where the waiting line for the elevator/climb to the top of St Peter's dome is.

I have used this group exit many times without being part of a group. If you plan to take the group exit, do not check coats nor use an audioguide.

As far as which museums to visit, you know your audience. Take a look at the Vatican website and see the different possibilities.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 07:17 AM
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Our parish priest led us on the Scavi tour. We were the only ones there. I don't know if that was a fluke or if it was by design (ie: they only allow so many people in at a time). I don't know if guides accompany you on the tour.

This past October I was with a tour group (Insight Vacations). Rather than standing and waiting for entrance to the Museum tour groups are often given some priority as the groups time is limited. Our Tour Director led us through the Museum and then into the Chapel. However, once in the Chapel the Tour Director was not permitted to 'guide' us as all present are asked to remain quiet given the sanctity of your surroundings.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 07:19 AM
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Your guide cannot take you into the Scavi. You would join a small group with a Scavi guide, if you are able to get a reservation. Start the request process right away if you are interested in that tour, as spaces are limited.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 07:22 AM
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Chidren must be at least 15 years ago to go on the Scavi tour.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 08:54 AM
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bookmarking
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 09:39 AM
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Is the guide just for the Vatican Museums - or also for St Peter's? You seem to be mixing them together with talk about climbing to the top (that's St Peter's Dome). While both are part of the Vatican they are in different areas.

In St Peter's I would not miss the Scavi tour ( I think you need to get separate tickets for this - don;t believe private guides are allowed), the Treasury and the Dome. As for the Museums - I would go online to the website and pick out what you want to see.

Also, if you have a private guide - shouldn;t they be advising on this?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2011, 09:57 AM
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No one under 15 years old allowed on the Scavi Tour. The Ufficio Scavi will make no exception to that rule.
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