Michelangelo

The best time to tour the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & Colosseum & Roman Forum; closures, holidays and crowded days in April 2019

As the high season is approaching it might be useful, to give you some “insiders” information about the best time to visit these two sites. Being the Colosseum and the Vatican, among the most visited places in the World, these tips can save you some time and some stress. Why get stressed during your holidays?

In the last couple of years, regardless to our pre booked, hour slot, purchased tickets, we have been experiencing delays at the security check at both sites. Among the reasons of these delays are increasing numbers of visitors coming to the Vatican and to the Colosseum and also more severe security checks on certain days. You might get stuck at the entrance sometimes even for an hour – whether you have bought your tickets in advance or booked a tour.

Have a look here below for the most crowded days we expect in April.

April Vatican

It’s Easter Month and anytime around Easter, from the 18th to the 22nd you might find some sections closed, very long security check line and most of the times the St Peter’s Basilica will be closed. Also, once inside, it will be so crowded that you’ll lose the whole point of visiting the Vatican and your expectations will be highly disappointed.

We would recommend to avoid 19th and 20th April this year. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel will be closed on the 21st and 22nd April (Easter and Easter Monday).

Also, on the 9th of April the Vatican Museums will open at 11am and not at 9am as usual. Only if you have already your booked tickets you will be allowed to access the site.

From the 18th to the 30th April the Vatican Museums will extend the opening hours to 5pm (last entrance) instead the usual closing time at 4pm. During these days visitors will be allowed to stay inside the Museums until 7pm.

April Colosseum

From our years-long experience, we have noticed that Mondays are the less busy days of the week at the Colosseum.

On Sundays, Colosseum and Roman Forum are usually overcrowded by foreign tourists, “long-weekend” visitors, Italians coming from other parts of Italy and by locals. We would suggest to avoid Sundays at the Colosseum.  

From the 31st March and throughout the whole summer, the opening hours of both sites, Colosseum and Roman Forum will be extended. The last entrance to the site will be at 6.15pm (closure at 7.15pm). Take enough time to visit both (or all three) sites – at least a couple of hours.

The Colosseum and Roman Forum will be open on the Easter Day, 21st April and Easter Monday 22nd April.

In our next article we will bring you the latest news about the closures and most crowded days in May! Stay tuned…

GOOD MORNING VATICAN!

GOOD MORNING VATICAN!

We didn’t know what to expect and having already arranged many tour options of the Vatican Museums, we thought it would have been another similar experience. We were going for a survey of a new experience.

The Early, the Super-Early, the VIP, the Fast track and Skip the line Vatican Museums tour…. all these tours are fine, good, great, but you cannot compare the Good Morning Vatican Museums with anything else, ever. The feeling isn’t anything you have tried so far. It feels a little bit like the Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller and, a little bit, like Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise. At 6am, while it’s still dark, you access the Museums through the magnificent door, under the sight of two statues of Raffaello and Michelangelo.

We were accompanied in an ancient-like decorated elevator to the level where the visit would start. Everything was dark.  Il Clavigero, the keyman of the Vatican Museums, Gianni Crea, has welcomed us at the door of the terrace (at the Corrazze Atrium) that looks over the St Peter’s Basilica.

The pale day-light, that was struggling with the dark of the previous night, illuminated enough just to see the silhouette and the lights of the St Peter’s Dome. We were there alone, overlooking the garden and the biggest church in the World, all of this just for ourselves.

We went back into the darkness of the Museums, where we felt the thrill of being alone inside the walls that contain so many centuries of history and art. In the past centuries the Museums have been used as Popes’ apartments. That’s why we felt a little bit like intruders, but mostly like hidden treasure seekers or adventurous explorers. In all that obscurity and silence, broken only by clavigero’s keys’ rattling, you felt like you could spot a ghost or hear some whispering echoes.

Gianni, il Clavigero, the Keyman of the Vatican Museums

Gianni would allow us to try to open some of the doors, by giving us the keys. Just to hold one of nearly 2700 keys of the most important collection of art in the World, was worth the experience (and wakening up at 5am!). The Pio Clementino Museum and the Octagonal Courtyard statues were wrapped up in silence of the courtyard and tranquility of the morning.

We arrived to the door that will eventually bring us into the Galleries of the Vatican Museums. The pitch dark around us was cut only by the torch-light. Gianni opened the door and let us into the darkness of the Gallery of Tapestries that, after the usual “switch-sound”, was illuminated in all its beauty. We opened all other Galleries, opened the window covers in the Gallery of Maps, watched from the window at 6.30am toward the Pope Ratzinger’s house, admired the Vatican Gardens from the balcony with the first, shy sunrays, opened the Raphael Rooms for other nearly 30.000 visitors who will enter the Vatican Museums on that day from 8am on… We were opening the Vatican Museums that day.

You really feel in symbiosis with the art, with the world that produced that art, you feel closer to the artistic expression displayed in front of you and you feel peace. After this experience, I would never ever enter a Museum for a visit with all the crowds. Only in this way you understand what’s the best way to appreciate the artworks.

We arrived to a double side, not big, wooden door, where Gianni stopped by and handed one of the three big rings with all the keys. He said “who finds the right key, he or she will open the Sistine Chapel today!”. It looked like hundreds of keys on one big ring and we didn’t have a clue how the SISTINE CHAPEL KEY could have looked like!!!! It felt like we were searching for a 1 billion dollar worth key. If you find it, you can really have the once-in-a-life time honor (and unique thrill!!!) to open the Sistine Chapel!!
We are not sure if it will give more value to your CV, but for sure you won’t forget the shiver you get of holding the keys of the Sistine Chapel!

The Key!!! The one that opens the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel gets illuminated by ALL of the lights and that happens only in the occasions like the Pope’s ceremony, the Conclave and the 6am tour! (Yes, you understood well!).

You cannot take pictures, but also try not to cry overwhelmed by all the emotions.

We left the Museums initially full of unexplainable emotions. Afterwards, we started to realize what this experience brought us: you feel like winning a lottery as you were among millions of people who got a chance to experience something unique. And this is one of those things that you buy and it makes you richer!

And for the rest of your life you will have a vivid memory of something extraordinary and unique you were part of.

This tour is now available on request for 2019 and bookable for 2020. If you would like to join this experience that you will remember for the whole life, contact us on info@citylightstours.com

Enter for free to Museums and archaeological sites in Italy

In a couple of weeks all the visitors will be allowed to access some of the Roman Museums for free!

The Week of Culture, from the 5th to the 10th of March 2019, has been announced and many state museums and archaeological sites will be free of charge, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Borghese Gallery. The tickets will be completely free, but don’t forget that in some Museums the reservation is required and usually it has a cost of 2€ (for example, you will need to get your reservation for Borghese Gallery).

Throughout the whole year, there will be 20 (and not 12 as the last year) free access days to many Italian museums and archaeological sites. The Week of Culture will be chosen every year in a different period of the year and other “free days” will be chosen independently by every single museum.

For this year, the access to the Colosseum (and the Roman Forum) will be free of charge for the following days:

  • Every first Sunday from January to March and from October until December.
  • From the 5th to the 10th of March 2019
  • 9th May
  • 5th June
  • 29th June
  • 23rd September
  • 4th October
  • 4th November

Furthermore, every last Thursday of May, June, September and November the entrance to the Colosseum and Roman Forum will be free of charge for the last three hours during the opening hours of the site.

These dates are:

30th May from 3.30pm until 6.30pm

27th June from 3.30pm until 6.30pm

26th September from 2pm until 5pm

31st October from 11.30 until 2.30pm

28th November from 11.30 until 2.30pm

During the free access days, reservations for sections like Underground of the Colosseum, Belvedere and Arena will be closed and the bookings for the access or a guided tour for these areas won’t be available.

Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, are under the jurisdiction of the Vatican City (and not under the Italian law) and the free access days are, as usual, every last Sunday of the month.

During the next week the list of the free access days for other museums and archaeological sites will be published and we will keep you updated. Stay tuned..

When is the best time to visit the Vatican?

If you’re planning a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and you have few days available, here is short “guide” for the best day to organize your Vatican City tour.

Whether you are going to join one of the so-called “Vatican tour skip the line” or you decide to go on your own, it is always useful to know a little bit more about the crowds at the Vatican.

St Peter’s line

The time of the year:

The low season in Rome starts every year at the beginning of November until around 20th December, when the Christmas period starts, and it finishes on the 6th January. The high season every year starts around Easter and finishes at the end of October.

However, during the high season, the crowd flow can vary and it could be helpful to know when you could encounter more or less people accessing the Vatican Museums.

Days:

  • Monday is one of the busiest days for the Vatican Museums as they are closed on Sundays. A lot of people don’t know about the closure day of the Vatican Museums and they leave the Vatican City tour as (the best and) the last on the check-list. Therefore, since early morning you will find people queuing at the entrance. If you have no choice you can join one of our “beat the crowds” solutions like the Early Vatican Tour with privileged access
  • Tuesday can be a quiet day for the Vatican Museums and it can be a good choice for a visit. However, always check the Vatican calendar to see if there is any special ceremonies or Vatican City holidays when they close the Museums.
  • Wednesday is the day of the Pope’s Audience. So if you are not planning to attend the Audience at the St Peters Square, this is the perfect time to visit the Vatican Museums. You should go in the morning and you will probably have a chance to see what is like when the Vatican Museums are almost empty.
  • Thursday is not a particularly busy day for the Vatican except for the days when there is a holiday or some special ceremony in the Vatican.
  • Friday can be considered one of the busiest days for the Vatican City. At any time you go, you will find crowds accessing the Museums. This is also because of the “long-weekend” holiday travelers.
  • Saturday, together with Monday, is the busiest day at the Vatican. On Sundays the Vatican is closed and on Saturdays, at any time during the high season, you will always find a long line at the entrance.

In case you’ve already purchased or you’re planning to arrange a Vatican City tour, please keep in mind that all the guided tours organized by City Lights Tours are skip-the-line-tours. This means that you will skip the line at any time. The above-mentioned list can help you to organize your Vatican City tour better and to choose the day when there are less visitors inside the Museums.

Also in order to avoid the “big crowd” entering the Museums, you can always choose to join the Early morning Vatican tour that will allow you to enter one hour earlier than the general public.

 

 

 

 

Michelangelo’s grocery list… a piece of art

When we think about Michelangelo, Raffaello and many other artists who left their indelible sign in the history of art, we always think about their artworks that leave us breathless every time we look at them.

But we never think they were also (almost) ordinary people and they used to do all the things that ordinary people do.

If they were living nowadays they would be probably using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and their thoughts, opinions and ideas would be spread in real time all over the world. What we know about their everyday life has been written in books and probably we will never know most of the things…

However, this important and, somehow, amusing document tells us a bit more of what Michelangelo was dealing with on a daily basis. And guess why he draw all the items? Because he was an over-ambitious artist? Wrong! His servant was an illiterate person therefore he wasn’t able to read! Can you understand what Michelangelo wanted his housekeeper to buy for him?

And don’t forget that if you want your doodles and scribbles to become famous “artwork” first of all you must realize something as famous as the Sistine Chapel…. at least…

michelangelo-lista-spesa2

 

 

 

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