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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!!!!

Are you sure you know all these things about Palermo?

You have heard about Palermo many and many times, but you probably don’t know that the city is so peculiar in much more aspects that you can even think of.

Palermo is known for its long history, peculiar variegated culture, diversified architecture, and Mediterranean unique cuisine. Over the centuries it has been playing an important cultural and artistic role.

If you only think that Palermo is more than 2700 years old, only this data is enough to give you an idea of the cultural and artistic richness of this city.

The city has been proclaimed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, while in 2017 it has been chosen, among other Italian cities, as the Capital of the Italian Culture 2018.

If you’re planning to visit the city, you will never be completely prepared as you would be overwhelmed with the past and the present of this unique place. The historical richness and architectural variety will transport you in another world made of ancient Greek, Roman and Norman civilizations.

If we want to “start from the beginning” we need to go far back in time. It was during the 8th century BC when Palermo was founded by Phoenicians. Afterwards, the city was Carthaginian, Roman an also Byzantine settlement until the Arabs conquered Palermo during the 9th century AC. The golden age of Palermo was during the Normans’ presence while a certain decline was contemporary to the arrival of the Spanish Kingdom that lasted for several centuries.

Also, the name of the city has changed throughout the years. The Phoenician name Ziz (flower) later has been transformed into Greek name Panormus (complete port). The Arabs changed the name into Balarme (Bal’harm – بَلَرْم) that actually contains the roots of the present-day name.

Many cultures that have been settled here and have influenced the culture and also the culinary tradition of Palermo and Sicily in general. That’s why both the city and the whole region are world-wide known for their specialties among which you will probably recall cannoli, cassata, arancina, pasta alla Norma and of course, granita.

The architecture has been transformed throughout the centuries and many already existing buildings have been adapted to the conquerors’ art and taste of that moment. For example, the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption is composed of various styles combined together throughout the centuries. During the Arab domination, this church has also served as a mosque. In Palermo you can find many other buildings that are reflecting the architectonic richness of the city and reveal its variegated tradition, history and culture.

If you’re planning a visit to Palermo and you still don’t have an idea from where to start, here you can find some suggestions of what you shouldn’t miss. Be sure that all of them are unique places and don’t forget to put them on your check-list.

Santa Rosalia in Monte Pellegrino The façade of this sanctuary is carved into the rock overlooking the city of Palermo. The Santuario serves as the burial place to Santa Rosalia, which is also the patron saint of the city.

Palazzo dei Normanni + Cappella Palatina. Royal Palace constructed during the Norman domination and finalized during several foreign dominations, has been used as the palace of the rulers. According to some studies, Palazzo dei Normani is the oldest royal existing residence in Europe.

Duomo di Monreale is the typical example of Norman, Arab and Byzantine architectural elements combined together and hence it is one of the most important cultural heritages of the Italian Middle Ages.

La Cuba was completed during the 12th century and it is mostly inspired by Arabic style. In 2015 it has been inserted (among many other Sicilian sites) in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

La Zisa was also inspired by the Moorish art. It is a castle in Palermo that has been built as the summer residence for the Norman kings. The building has been modified and restored throughout the centuries. In the past, like many Arabic-style buildings, the central room had a beautiful water fountain but now is decorated “only” by a magnificent mosaic.

Before visiting Palermo get as many information about the city as you can. Chose if to explore it on your own, or opt to join a tour of the city or book a guide and a tour of the main sites. Also, don’t forget that the food tour, anywhere in Sicily, could be a good idea (also have a look on the article about chocolate from Modica). And still, you will realize that whatever time you have at your disposal, it will be never enough.

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