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June in Rome: the best time to visit and to avoid crowds at the Colosseum and the Vatican

During the month of June it might very hot and quite crowded in Rome.

Don’t get stuck in the heat and get exhausted and stressed on your Roman holidays. Plan your visits carefully and stay always up to date with latest news. Here are the latest news from Rome that might help you organize your trip.

Few things have changed in the last month regarding the Colosseum and Roman Forum. If you prefer getting around the archaeological site on your own, make sure you get your tickets in advance. The online reservations are sold out for most of the month. Therefore, the only solution is to get your own tickets at the entrance of the Roman Forum, at the Colosseum or at the gate of the Palatine Hill. Directly at the desk of these three sites, from now on, it won’t be possible to get tickets for more than 1 person (you can get the ticket only for your self). Only the licensed guides, that have a dedicated cash desk, can get more than one ticket and they will be assigned the first available entrance time to the Colosseum.

This means that this year it won’t be possible to enter the Colosseum at any time. You will be allowed to enter the Colosseum only at the time that will be assigned to you at the moment of the ticket purchase. Pointless to say “early bird…”

Colosseum and Roman Forum June 2019

On the 2nd of June is the Republic Day in Italy and Via dei Fori Imperiali that goes in the middle of the Ancient Rome ruins (from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum) will be completely closed to the traffic and pedestrians as there will be a military parade. The access to the Colosseum and Roman Forum on that day will be very difficult or almost impossible. Try to arrange your plans accordingly and avoid to schedule the visit to the Ancient Rome on the 2nd of June.

On the 5th and the 29th of June the entrance to the Colosseum and Roman Forum will be free of charge. The security checks are sometimes very long, therefore plan your visit preferably early in the morning. Both sites open at 8.30am. You will still need to collect your free tickets at the cash desk.

The Belvedere section of the Colosseum will reopen in June and again the visitors will have the chance to purchase the tour or a special ticket to climb to the very top of the Colosseum.

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, June 2019

As usual, the opening hours of the Vatican Museums will be from 9am to 4pm. For pre-booked groups with accredited tour-operators the access is allowed from 8am.

The only closure of the Vatican Museums will be on the 29th June, the St Paul’s and St Peter’s Day. The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, as every year,  will be closed throughout the whole day.

The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are closed on Sundays and only on the last Sunday of the month, as usual, the access to these sites will be free of charge. The opening hours on the “Free Sunday” is from 9am and 12.30pm.

The Pope’s Angelus is confirmed for every Sunday except for the 2nd and the 16th June. For the St Paul’s and St Peter’s Day the Angelus will take place also on the 29th June. The Angelus is always at 12pm. It’s not required to book your tickets for this event.

The Pope’s Audience, taking place every Wednesday, is confirmed for the 5th, the 12th, the 19th and the 26th June. The tickets, that are free of charge, can be requested here

On Sunday 9th  June, the Papal Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost will take place at 10am at the St Peter’s Basilica. On the 29th Papal Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul will start at 9.30am. If you would like to attend the events or a Mass inside the Basilica you must book your tickets here. They are also free of charge.

If you need any assistance to book your tickets for Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican, in case you would like to book a tour of these sites, or you simply need to book your free tickets for the Papal’s Mass or Papal’s Audience, please contact us on info@citylightstours.com or via chat on our main page.

We will be glad to help you to organize your stress-free holiday in Rome.

Happy travels to everyone!

While in Rome… eat, pray, love and cook!

Since the beginning of the times, every traveller had one main goal: to experience, to create memories of emotions lived during the travel, to come into contact with local culture, local traditions and learn about local habits.

If you think about visiting Italy, and especially Rome, among the first things you might have on your check-list are: the Colosseum , the Vatican together with the Sistine Chapel, and you will be surely looking forward to taste delicious Italian food!

The food, by all means, is the best way to live an extraordinary experience and bring back home vivid memories.

We have already written here about Italian coffee, Italian (Sicilian) chocolate and about the worldwide famous Italian pasta.

We from City Lights have thought about our future guests who might like to experience a little bit more and among different options of Cooking classes and Food tours, we actually decided to offer you all of this in one tour.

We are sure that the most intriguing part of this new City Lights tours package will be this Cooking class that will have maximum 8 participants.

It will be, at the same time, easy and exciting to follow this fantastic experience.

Your chef, who is fully licensed, professional and accredite, will lead and follow you from the very start to the very end of this experience.

First, you will meet him at one of the most characteristic and authentic markets of Rome where you will start to collect all the necessary ingredients. You will see what kind of tomatoes Italians use for each recipe (and believe it or not there are dozens of types of tomatoes, each for different dish), you will visit a so-called Salsamenteria where you can discover the most typical kinds of cheese, cold cuts of meat and all characteristic Italian delicacies and you will also visit a typical Italian butcher where we will collect some of the ingredients for our recipes.

Then, together with the Chef you will reach his studio in Trastevere and the real discover will start. While you will be preparing pasta on your own and while he will be looking after each and every participant, he will start to reveal the most important secrets of the every-day cooking. You will be surprised of how many things you will learn and how easy can be to implement these small secrets for an easier life!

The Cooking Class will include preparation of: three types of pasta, a main dish and a dessert.

While you’ll be starting to get more self-confidence by preparing your (probably first in your lifetime) dough, the chef will offer a taste of some special red or white wine and if you’re lucky you will have a chance to taste special artisanal olive oil (of his own production).

Before the pasta will be ready to be cooked, you will also prepare a main dish (meat or fish) and during this preparation process you will discover some simple, small secrets that will add more to your discovery of why the Italian cuisine is so famous.

As soon as you finished preparing your pasta, the cooking process will start and you will finally taste your own creation. The sauce prepared by all the participants will be combined with pasta and the lunch will be ready to be served.

The complete meal, prepared by you and other participants, under the attentive eye of the chef, will be served and accompanied by an excellent wine.

The dessert, that Italians are going proud of, will also be part of this cooking/tasting class and you will see how with few ingredients you can make an excellent, typically Italian, dessert.

Your Cooking Class – Tasting experience will not come alone.

The package will also include one or two tours of your choice that can be:

  • the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica tour the
  • Colosseum & Roman Forum tour,
  • or both

You just need to decide and to let us know how would you like to get the best of your holiday.

The best time in May 2019 to tour the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & Colosseum & Roman Forum

The high season in Rome will officially start with the Easter Day, the 21st April. We are expecting that the month of May will be very crowded.

Save your time and don’t get stressed with the following few tips we are about to give you.

As we mentioned in our previous article, we have experiencing delays at the security checks of the Vatican and the Colosseum, therefore choose the best days to visit these sites.

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel openings in May

During the month of May 2019 the Vatican Museums will be closed on the 1st May and on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of the month the 26th May, when the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel will be open for free from 9am to 12.30pm (last entrance).

Also, throughout the month, every Friday evening the Vatican Museums will be open from 7pm until 9.30pm (last entrance).

From our experience we can suggest you to avoid the 2nd of May and also the 3rd and the 4th May might be very crowded at the Vatican. In that case you can opt for a visit to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums in the evening of the 3rd May. On the 2nd and the 4th May the Vatican Museums will be open until 4pm (last entrance) instead of the usual 3pm closure.

On the 1st of May and every Sunday except for the 5th May the Pope will hold the Angelus, the Benediction at the St Peter’s Square. The Angelus is at 12pm.

Also the Papal Audience will take place every Wednesday at the St Peter’s Square at around 9.30am. For the Audience you must book your tickets or you can collect them, the day before the Audience, at the Swiss Guards at the St Anna’s Gate.

May Colosseum and Roman Forum

From the 31st March, the Colosseum and Roman Forum will be open from 8.30am until 7.15pm (last entrance is at 6.15pm).

The entrance will be free on the 9th May for the whole day. Please keep in mind that the security check line, especially at the Colosseum might take longer than usual.

The tickets are valid for all three sites: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and the cost is 12€ if purchased directly at the site or 14€ on line. They are valid for two days and for one entrance to each site: one entrance to the Colosseum and one entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (that have the same entrance for both sites).

Please keep in mind that the Colosseum and Roman Forum might close on the 1st May 2019.

For any further information or in case you want to plan your visit and book a guided tour please contact us and we will offer you our best option and prices. If you’re staying in Rome for few days let us know and we will give you the best dates to visit the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel.

In our next next article we will give you the latest news about the openings, closure and the best days for a visit to the Vatican and Colosseum in June 2019!

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.

If you would like to check our Domus Transitoria & Roman Forum Tour you can have a look here https://www.citylightstours.com/product/neros-domus-transitoria-roman-forum/

Week of Culture in Italy. List of free Museums in Rome!

During the Week of Culture in Italy, as we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the entrance will be free of charge and if you’re in Rome between 5th and 10th of March 2019, you cannot miss this opportunity.

If you’re in Venice, Florence, Naples and any other city in Italy, keep in mind that almost all state museums will be free during the Week of Culture 2019.

In case of archaeological sites and museums that belong to the Vatican (like Vatican Museums or catacombs), the admission won’t be free and it is required to purchase or book your ticket.

Here is the list of the free museums in Rome.

Ostia Antica archaeological site

Roman forum and Palatine Hill

Colosseum

Campo di Bove

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Spada

Galleria Corsini

Palazzo BArberini

Galleria Nazionale

Cecilia Metella Mausoleum and Castrum Caetani

“Lamberto Loria” Museums

“Alessandro Vaccaro” Museum

“Giuseppe Tucci” Museum

“Luigi Pigorini” Museum

National Museum of Musical Instruments

National Museum of Palazzo Venezia

Castel Sant’Angelo

Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

Crypta Balbi

Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

Baths of Diocletian

Ostiense Museum

Santa Maria Nova (Appian Way)

Villa Adriana Tivoli

Villa d’Este Tivoli

Villa dei Quintili

In case you’re lucky to be in Rome from 5th to 10th March 2019 and you would like to arrange or join a guided tour and save some money, contact us during the Week of Culture and book your private guide in Rome! Remember, your price will be much cheaper as you won’t pay for tickets!

And… don’t forget! City of Rome is an open-air museum!

Photo by Serena Repice Lentini on Unsplash
Photo by Serena Repice Lentini

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..

Bulgari to restore the archaelogical site of Largo Argentina

Rome will have a new archaeological site that will be soon open to all citizens and tourists. The new opening will give the chance to all the visitors to access one of the most important archaeological sites in Rome.

https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/it/larea-sacra-di-largo-di-torre-argentina

In a couple of years the archaeological site of Largo Argentina (Largo di Torre Argentina) will be open to the public thanks to the donation of the fashion maison Bulgari who will donate 1 milion euro for the restoration. After financing the restoration of the Spanish Steps, Bulgari decided to give life to this archaeological site of great importance.

The area has been built in the 3rd century B.C and it’s well known as the place where Julius Caesar has been murdered on 15th March in 44 A.C, on the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar.

The “Sacred Area” of Largo Argentina has been discovered only in 1926 and there were found four temples built from the 4th to the 2nd century B.C. The temples are dedicated to the divinities or events of those times:

Temple of Juturna built after the Roman victory against the Carthaginians in 241 BC;

Temple Fortuna Huiusce Diei dedicated to the “Fortune of This Day”;

Temple of Feronia ancient Italic divinity of fertility;

Temple devoted to Lares Permarini (Lares who protect sailors).

The area will be accessible from the 2021 and there will be built platforms and boardwalks, which will allow visitors to walk over the archaeological site and get closer to the ruins of the Largo Argentina.

Largo Argentina is in the city centre of Rome, walking distance from Piazza Venezia, Pantheon and Campo de’ Fiori and it is very easily reachable with public transport as all the main buses have a stop in Largo Argentina. Don’t miss it even now, when the area can be admired from the walls of the archaological site.

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