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Petals shower at the Pantheon

After the queues at the Vatican and the Colosseum, this Sunday you will be able to see a very long line in front of the Pantheon!

Pentecoste occurs 50 days after Easter and celebrates the descendent of the Holy Spirit. According to tradition, following the mass at 10.30am, ten of thousands of rose petals will fall from the top inside the Pantheon to represent the descend of the Holy Spirit to Earth.

The hole in the roof of the Pantheon is 9 meters large and dozens of firemen will climb 43 meters high rooftop to prepare this petals shower from 43 meters height.


Those who are interested in attending this spectacular event should queue from early morning. However, be aware that the access is not guaranteed; the entry will cease once the site reaches its maximum capacity.

But it will worth getting up early and attending this magical moment!!!

371538 : (Cecilia Fabiano / EIDON), 2010-05-23 Roma – Lancio di petali di rosa al Pantheon in occasione della Pentecoste – I petali di rose rosse sul pavimento del Pantheon – Roma 23 Mag 2010 I petali di rose rosse sul pavimento del Pantheon Lancio di petali di rosa al Pantheon in occasione della Pentecoste (EIDON) – fotografo: Cecilia Fabiano / EIDON



You might have heard that the 21st of April is celebrated in Eternal City as the Birthday of Rome.

The myth about Romulus and Remus brings us back to the Eight century BC.

The legend narrates that the twin brothers were abandoned and thrown inside River Tiber. On the bank of the river near the Palatine Hill they were recovered by a she-wolf who suckled them and saved their lives.

Years later, Romulus and Remus wanted to establish a city exactly on the place where they have been found. Some disagreements divided the two brothers and eventually Romulus killed his brother. However, Romulus established the city that he decided to call Rome. According to the legend, this occurred on the 21st April 753BC.

Today we will be celebrating 2771st Birthday of Rome!!! Now, more than ever, you know what does it mean that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”!

If you’re in the Eternal City on the 21st and 22nd April you will be able to participate to numerous events organized by local associations. Circus Maximus, Via Fori Imperiali, Piazza del Campidoglio will be open-air stages. Exhibitions, concerts will be held across the city, while many Roman museums will be free.

But, first of all, visit Piazza del Campidoglio and you will find the copy of the statue of the she-wolf and the twin brothers. The original one is inside the Capitolini Museums and this time the entrance is free!

Horti Farnesiani on the Palatine Hill – first botanical gardens in Europe!

Finally after 30 years a part of the Palatine Hill, known as Farnese gardens, are open to public.

The Gardens have been constructed in 1550 by the Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and these Gardens were the first botanical gardens in Europe!

The Gardens are divided in terraces connected by steps. By climbing the steps it was possible to see, for example, the Ninfeo della Piogga (Rain Nymphaeum) and the Teatro del Fontanone.

Mainly the Gardens were divided in: Main Entrance, Porticoes and Fontana della Pioggia, Second Floor, Third Floor and Aviaries on the Top Floor.

Computer reconstruction by Electa

One of the sections of the Gardens is known as Giadino della Palma where the visitors could admire exotic plants form America and Africa.

Most of the statues have been removed or sold, but thanks to the National Archeological Museum in Naples, some of the original statues have been temporarily placed on their original spot.

However, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the marvelous place. From late March until October 2018 you can access the Farnese Gardens by entering from the Palatine Hill entrance or even from the Roman Forum entrance. The visit is included in your Colosseum and Roman Forum ticket.

Sistine Chapel… closer than it has ever been before

If you’re in Rome and you would like to experience something completely new and overwhelming, you cannot miss the Last Judgment. Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel.

This 3D experience was created with the scientific supervision of the Vatican Museums and it’s something original, innovative, first time available to the general public. The use of the advanced technology will reveal how Michelangelo has realized his masterpiece and it will uncover the secrets of the Sistine Chapel.

Sting has composed the original music for the show that is 60 minutes long. The special effects, the narration and the music will give you a complete experience about the history and mystery of the Sistine Chapel. The images are shown on a 270° screen.

The characters depicted by Michelangelo will take part of this show as living characters and you will feel like you were there when he started to create this marvelous masterpiece.

If you are planning the visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment Show will complete your experience and your knowledge about Michelangelo’s work. The Show can be seen in Auditorium della Conciliazione, in Via della Conciliazione, just a few steps from the St Peter’s Basilica.

You can buy your tickets here and you will have 10% discount on all our tours.

In case you want to feel the history that occurred within the walls of the Sistine Chapel you can join one of our tours. The one that gives you a great opportunity without too much crowd is the EARLY VATICAN VIP TOUR  and you will have the chance to enter among the first ones inside the Vatican Museums.

There is more than just the Vatican Museums!

Many people come to Rome and rush to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, line up for the Vatican for hours…

You can make your Roman holiday much more enjoyable and stress-free if you book your Vatican City tour and get more of your visit to the Sistine Chapel or you get a guided tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum for an easy-going stroll among the Ancient Rome ruins.

However, as you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day and there is much more to see. Even if you’re staying just few days, you should get a couple of hours and visit one of the hidden gems of Rome.

If you think that it’s hidden and you have to search for it, that’s not true.

For example, if you stroll down from the Vatican toward Trastevere (having the river Tiber on your left hand side) after less than 1 mile you will notice a marvelous palace surrounded by a fabulous garden. That’s where you will discover something that will leave you breathless. That is Villa Farnese.

Villa Farnese, dating from the XV century, was almost completely painted by Raffaello. The Villa was commissioned and owned by a Chigi family (family of merchants and bankers) whose member, Agostino, wanted to leave a legacy of his passion for art and culture.

For about 2 years in a row, Raphael has dedicated his time to the decoration of the Villa. He wasn’t alone working in this huge villa, but most of the frescoes are his own.

Raphael decided to adapt his paintings to every room, in order for every fresco to narrate the story of each room. Hence, there are many hidden messages with which Raffaello wanted to add his personal touch to every story-painting.


It is a hidden gem, as you would never think that this building, artistically and historically, has a huge importance for the history of Rome and Italy. Also, imagine to spend a couple of hours in a place where one of the masterminds of Renaissance art has spent more than 2 years creating this unbelievable artistic legacy.

The opening hours of Villa Farnesina are from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm and on the second Sunday of the month from 9 am to 5 pm.

The ticket costs only 6€ adults and 5€ reduced.

After visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel with the Michelangelo’s masterpiece, take some time and pay a visit to this marvelous place. You will also have a discount by showing the Vatican Museums ticket (within 7 days of your Vatican visit).

Put Villa Farnesina on your check list and you won’t regret it!

Rome City Marathon 2018

The countdown has started: in less than one month the marathon runners will gather in Rome. This year the Rome Marathon will take place on Sunday 8th April.

The runners will follow an itinerary that was traced among the most beautiful parts of Rome. The start line will be near the Colosseum, between Roman Forum and Imperial Forums. The route, in part covered in cobble-stones, will run by historical sites of the city like Piazza Venezia, Circus Maximus, the Piramide, the Vatican, Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps and the Quirinale.

The registrations are still open, so hurry up if you don’t have your race number yet!

Also while in Rome… alone or with your family, why don’t you plan to visit the most beautiful historical sites of Rome!

If you’re planning to have some rest, but you still don’t want to miss the best part of Rome, with us you will have a special discount.

Whether you decide to join the Vatican City Guided Tour that includes Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel or you prefer to wander between Ancient Rome ruins and visit the Colosseum with a guide, we can arrange all of this for you.

All our prices include tickets, reservations fees, guide and there is no additional charges

Your discount code with City Lights Tours is FUNRUN18 and you can use it during the checkout on our page.

In case you want to plan your visit to Rome, a tailored guided tour and if you need some info and details, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Sistine Chapel only for you!

The Vatican Museum is one of the most visited places in the World. During the high season, between 30 thousand to 40 thousand people enter the Vatican every day.

However, everybody is trying to tolerate the crowd, the heat and the stress just to see the Sistine Chapel. During the guided tours of the Vatican Museums, that are 2 hours long, you will be able to remain inside the Sistine Chapel from 10 to 15 minutes.

But there is a way to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel completely alone!

City Lights Tours has the chance to arrange for our guests a private access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in the when they are closed to the public.

The tour starts when the huge bronze doors open in front of you and you will be allowed to enter alone with your guide inside the Vatican Museums.

This 2 hours guided tour consists in a private visit of the Vatican Museums’ Upper Galleries (Gallery of Maps, Gallery of Tapestries and Gallery of Candelabra), Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel. With this private visit you will be able to stay completely alone inside the Sistine Chapel for almost 30 minutes, which is not possible at any other time and with any other tour!

If you want to know more about this exclusive guided tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel you can find here a detailed story that our guests wrote.


A close encounter with Michelangelo

(an article by Italian Insider)

VATICAN CITY — Gazing up at Michelangelo’s magnificent altar in the Sistine Chapel with nothing to distract me save the soft sound of our guide’s footsteps pacing behind me, I couldn’t help but count my lucky stars. Usually, it’s a different story. Mile-long queues, fed-up tourists, guides trying to scam you, and that’s before you even get in. Followed by airport-style security checks, guards shuffling you along, and the constant feeling of being watched. Snakes of single-file tours worm their way through the crowds, led by a stone-faced guide holding a flag, reeling off their speech which the group can hardly hear because of the background noise, despite the headset provided. The whole scene is almost zombie-like — visitors trudging through the Vatican museums, barely able to stop and appreciate the art surrounding them. By the time they arrive at the Sistine Chapel, exhausted from having to fight through the throngs, amidst a constant sound of ‘shhhh,’ and people being told off for taking photos, they are left unable to take in the breath-taking frescoes by Michelangelo, Raphael and some of the most talented artists in the world.

The situation is all-too familiar. But this is another world compared with the exclusive City Lights tour that I was fortunate to join on Monday evening, when the Vatican was closed to the general public. The appeal of the dazzling tour is that it is quite the opposite of the usual crowded, rushed experience in the Vatican museums. It gives you the opportunity really to see the beauty around you, without the hustle and bustle of any old tour.

Maja Ajdin and Sean Egan, founders of the company, and Mario Baas, the tour guide for the evening, greeted their 10 guests in a nearby bar with complimentary prosecco and nibbles. It was a chance to get to know each other before this once-in-a-lifetime experience that we would share. Some had visited the Vatican, for others it was their first time, but we were all assured it would be completely different from any other visit.

Heading into the Vatican at 6 P.M, it seemed a ghost town, with just a couple of guards to check our bags. We were inside in a matter of minutes, a world apart to the usual entrance procedures, where they see over 35,000 visitors a day.

There was certainly a feeling of having to tiptoe, or as our guide put it, feeling like “a thief in the house of the pope.” As we made our way through the Vatican Museums, pausing briefly in the Egyptian Gallery, the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of Tapestries, the Gallery of Maps, the Room of Immaculate Conception and Raphael’s Rooms, Mario pointed out favourite works, made memorable with interesting details, such as the minute mosaics made using tweezers to pick the pieces of glass. Hiding on the corner of a table showcasing different copies of the Dogma, they would have been easy to miss were it not for, first, a knowledgeable guide, and, second, the space and time required to actually see them. ‘If you had five seconds to see every piece of art in the Vatican museum it would still take you over 25 years,’ Mario explained.

After one hour and 20 minutes, Daniele, the sole guard accompanying our tour, signalled to Mario quietly; “They’re ready.” And then came the climax of the tour, the moment everyone had been waiting for.

It is truly striking that the entry to such a majestic chapel, covered in work by the likes of Michelangelo and Botticelli, is a such a small, simple wooden door.

We gathered outside, and even Mario, who has done hundreds of tours of the Vatican, was visibly excited. ‘Who wants to have the honour of coming in first?’ he asked. One could tell that it was truly a special moment for everyone there. Our Insider photographer Wolf led the way, and we were soon standing in a serene, empty chapel, just the way it was intended to be by Pope Sixtus when he had it renamed and restored between 1477 and 1480. We felt just as VIP as the Cardinals and royalty he would have received there at the time.



The most noteworthy aspect upon entering the Chapel was the silence. All that could be heard was the gentle hum of the air conditioning. Mario, who until then had talked and joshed with us throughout the visit, fell quiet, letting us take in the artistry that encompassed the space. It felt like another place, a different Chapel to that which regular tourists see in the daytime.

This was miles away from my last visit to the Vatican, 12 years ago. Pope John Paul II had just died. The crowds were even busier than usual, gathering to see his embalmed body. My family were undeterred, however, and so ensued a longer-than-usual wait outside the Vatican Museums, surrounded by a weeping throng.

After a few minutes this time, Mario started to explain the incredible feat we saw before us, taking us through Moses’ panels, read right to left because of Hebrew tradition, on the right side, and Christ’s on the left. He brought history to life by describing the working conditions at the time of the frescoes; details such as how different artists who did not necessarily know or like each other had to collaborate, for instance for the forest from one fresco that followed into that of its neighbour.

Mario then moved onto the iconic ceiling, originally a blue sky with yellow stars, which Pope Julius II had commissioned, hoping to see it in his lifetime. Where we stood there was once scaffolding, designed by Michelangelo himself, which he climbed in order to paint, lying on his back. Gazing up at the artworks for several minutes can hurt the neck, let alone for four years, dust falling into his eyes, ears ringing from the noise around him, working on them.

“But he still came back to work on the altar wall,” continued Mario. Amidst all the ascensions and descents of Judgement Day, he pointed out the skin of St Bartholomew, or Michelangelo’s self-portrait. The insertion of contemporary people, faces, monuments into historic art, was a great theme in the Renaissance, and it had been pointed out to us throughout the tour.

It came as no surprise to learn later that Mario was also an actor, after he recited Michelangelo’s letter to a friend, having finished the altar, as we all gazed up:

“I live alone and miserable, trapped as marrow under the bark of the tree. My voice is like a wasp caught in a bag of skin and bones. My teeth shake and rattle like the keys of a musical instrument. My face is a scarecrow. My ears never cease to buzz … This is the state where art had led me …”

And, on that slightly sad note, the tour was over. Forty minutes in the Sistine Chapel — longer than the normal 30 promised on the exclusive evening tour — had gone by in a flash.

It felt strange, leaving such a stunning building after a wonderful two hours, almost like coming up from underwater, back to real life. Now at 8 P.M, it was dark as we stepped outside the tiny city state and back into Italy. The cleaning staff and security guards who had had to wait until we were finished to leave evidently breathed sighs of relief as we made our way outside.

Overall, at 400 euros per person, the tour does not come cheap. However, group discounts can be made, with a maximum of 10 people per group. If you were left slightly disappointed on a previous visit to the Vatican, or you’ve never been but crowds aren’t your thing, it’s worth every cent. A magical experience.

Find out about City Lights’ other tour opportunities and prices here:


Guided visit to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel – organization and procedures

Many people, when they come to Rome, have the Vatican Museums on their check-list (who doesn’t?!). The Vatican Museums are part of the Vatican city, but by entering the Museums you are not going to “visit the city”.

The Vatican city is an independent country and not all of the territory is open to the public.

If you opt for a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel there is a procedure to follow.

First of all, if you are part of the group you will skip the line for those who are waiting to enter and purchase their tickets inside.

By entering the Vatican Museums, with a group tour or semi private tour, you will enter from the main entrance where you will have a security check. This is the first step where you need to respect certain rules imposed by the Vatican. It is not allowed to:

  • to carry big backpacks
  • to carry weapons, knives, scissors and/or metal tools
  • to enter with medium and large umbrellas (non-telescopic umbrellas)
  • to enter with long sticks (apart from those used for walking)
  • to bring inside camera supports (like tripods) and stands for photography, banners and signs of any type
  • to bring inside alcoholic and super alcoholic beverages
  • to consume food and drinks inside the exhibition halls

Once you go through the security check, if you’re part of a group, the tour manager or the guide will redeem the Vatican Museums vouchers. You might ask why you have to wait (it can be up to 5 mins) the tour manager to give you the tickets, but the Vatican procedure requires that once inside we redeem our on-line reservations (skip-the-line tickets) purchased in advance.

In the meantime, with your guide, you will approach the desk where you will be given the headsets. The only devices allowed inside the Vatican Museums are those of the Vatican, therefore, we need to wait the personnel to provide the headset with the right frequency. You will have a sound-check with your guide in order to control that every single participant can hear the guide clearly.

Once all the participants have confirmed that their device works properly, the group and the guide will head the Galleries of the Vatican Museums and your tour will start.

All this time, from the meeting point to the entrance, the security check and during the sound check you will be assisted by your guide who will lead the group until the end of the tour.

Please be sure to give back your radio to the guide at the end of the tour (or at any other moment in case you need to leave the tour earlier). Otherwise, you can return your radio to the Postoffice of the Vatican (leaving the Basilica on the right-hand side).



Have you written a postcard lately?

As a tour-operator we get a feedback from our clients through Tripadvisor, Facebook, email, Whatsapp etc. However, it happens sometimes that we get a postcard from clients who had a nice experience with us and would like to say “thank you” for the service we offered them. It’s a heart-warming moment when we open the envelope and find wonderful words for our guides.

Sending and receiving a postcard today doesn’t happen so often. In the high-tech era we are living in, we are not used to receive this long-distance-traveling thoughts anymore, but when it happens it transmits us a lot of motivation, warmth and kindness.

This time our guide Emanuele got the postcard for the Vatican Tour he did recently and our clients wanted to remember him and the whole City Lights team by writing some warm and kind words. Such a nice surprise for all of us!!!

And what about you? Have you tried to write and send a postcard lately and did you see the reaction of who received it? Lets keep this “old-school” habits alive!!!!

Who was Giordano Bruno?

In 1600 the 17th February was Ash Wednesday and on this day Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.

He was a Dominican friar, mathematician, poet and philosopher. Born in Nola (near Napoli) and died in Rome in 1600.

During his life, his studies and research were focused on history, philosophy, theology, astronomy and mathematics (to mention just a few) and therefore he was an eclectic scholar with various interests.

With his research he raised many doubts about the some deeply established scientific and religious ideas. While this today could be called the freedom of expression, Giordano Bruno was seen as a heretic and blasphemous person.

The Inquisition accused him of several charges and he was burned in Rome in Campo de’ Fiori hanging upside down while his “tongue was imprisoned because of his wicked words”.

Particularly from the 19th century on he was celebrated as a martyr of science and considered as a pioneer of free thought.

At the end of the 19th century, a statue was erected in his honor, exactly on the spot where he was burned in Campo de’ Fiori in Rome. Now the square hosts one of the most famous city markets. Next time you visit Rome and the market you should raise your eyes to the huge statue watching all of us.

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