ROME

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…

Photo: www.correre.it

Are you ready for the International Rome Marathon 2019

The 25th International Rome Marathon will be held this year on the first Sunday of April. On the 7th of April 2019 thousands of runners will gather in front of the Colosseum at the start line. What other place would have been better to start the race in the Eternal City than the Flavian Amphitheater?

The route of the race, as every year, will stretch around some of the most beautiful landmarks in Rome. At the very start the runners will pass by the ruins of the Roman Forum and Imperial Forums from where they will be able to notice the majestic Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia. Then the route will follow the streets that will bring the runners to the Circus Maximus, the ancient stadium which capacity was around 120.000 spectators. The race will continue just behind the Caracalla Thermal baths and will continue down the Cristoforo Colombo street. The race will bend and will pass around St Paul’s Basilica (St Paul’s outside the walls).  After a couple of kilometers the panorama will change and the athletes will run around the Pyramid (Piramide Cestia). This pyramid is not Egyptian, even if it was inspired by the Egyptian constructions, and it was used as the burial chamber of Gaius Cestius.

The Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) will be soon spotted on the left hand side of the runners’ route that will lead the marathon all the way along the river to the Vatican and the St Peter’s Basilica.

After the Vatican, the second half of the marathon, will follow the route that reaches the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Village, both built in the occasion of the Olympic games held in Rome in 1960. The race will continue again along the river Tiber and will reach the magnificent Piazza del Popolo with its impressive Porta del Popolo. Just few steps further the Spanish Steps square (Piazza di Spagna) will welcome the racers that will pass by the famous Bernini’s fountain, La Barcaccia.

After passing by Piazza Navona, Largo Argentina (the archaeological site where Julius Caesar has been killed) the race will reach again Piazza Venezia. Here, the last efforts will be necessary, as just before the finish a short but pretty steep hill will be in sight. The road that will bring all the racers to the finish is in downhill, just around the Colosseum.

The runners of the Rome City Maraton will have a unique panorama for the race!

You can download the Marathon route here.

During the days before and after the International Rome Marathon, City Lights Tours will welcome all marathon runners, tourists, visitors and supporters with a 20% discount. At the checkout just insert RUNNERS to get your discount. You are not obliged to proof that you’re running the marathon! You don’t have to run! We will bring you for a nice strolls along the best places in the city!

For all the visitors in Rome, City Lights Tours will also arrange all your transfers, so you can save your energy for the race (or for a tour!).

Soon we will publish the discount code reserved for all visitors in Rome during the International Rome Marathon, stay tuned!

A (“new”) Emperor Nero’s house to be open to the public on the Palatine Hill

After Domus Aurea that has been opened to the visitors for a long time, another Emperor Nero’s palace, will be soon accessible to the public.

After almost 1950 years after his death, Nero still intrigues historians, archaeologists and, of course, visitors of Rome. This year, after 60 years, another of his palaces, precedent to the Domus Aurea, the Domus Transitoria, will be finally open and will give us another marvellous site to admire and to learn better about the curious and eccentric personality of Nero.

The mansion, decorated with frescoes and with marbles from all over the Roman Empire, has been used for parties and entertainment of the Emperor and his friends. It has been built as a party house; several fountains located inside the numerous marble columns were used to cool down the hot summer air and to create a spectacular water shows.

Photo bu repubblica.it

Now the visitors will be able to enjoy a light show set up in order to recreate the fantastic waterfall show Nero used to have in his house.

The Nero’s Domus Transitoria is planned to be open to the public in April 2019. The access will be allowed with a new Roman Forum and Palatine Hill ticket that will give you the chance to visit some other sites, recently opened, inside the Roman Forum.

We from City Lights are known to organize small groups and this new opening will be included in our itinerary, as only small groups will be allowed. At the beginning of March new announcements are to be made regarding the reservations and ticketing for Nero’s Domus Transitoria. For all the details, guided tours and new openings we will keep you updated.

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..

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!

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Monet is in Rome! 19th Oct 2017- 11th Feb 2018

From 19th October 2017 until 11th February 2018 Rome will host the exhibition of the best Monet artworks.

The visitors will have the pleasure to admire 60 works of the father of the Impressionism. The collection belongs to the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris and it has been organized by Gruppo Arthemisia. These masterpieces were the personal collection of the artist, who kept all the paintings in his home in Giverny.

Through these works, it is possible to understand Monet’s artistic intensity and to recognize multiple aspects of his work.

Monet’s most beautiful works will be exposed

from 19th Oct 2017 until 11th Feb 2018

in Vittoriano – Altare della Patria.

It is possible to buy tickets on-line here.

Check also how to obtain discounts, to hire a guide or to get an audio-guide.

Don’t miss it!

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