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Vatican

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!

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

Early bird, but not too early

It has been years that many tour operators, bloggers, vloggers and travel story-tellers, have been advertising a “secret” way of seeing the Vatican Museums “before the crowds” or promising that you’ll be completely alone inside the Sistine Chapel. Visiting the Sistine Chapel alone is possible but not with the so-called Early option.

The “privilege” was advertised as the so-called VIP entrance, early morning Vatican, VIP early morning Vatican before the crowds etc….. none of these things is so Vip or privileged anymore…. Everybody discovered this secret and the term “vip entrance” lately got inflated more than a Venezuelan bolivar.

We from City Lights Tours have been working in the area for the last 10 years and we have experienced the trend change in the past 5 years, at least.

Few years ago, the Early Vatican tour was some sort of Vip tour as the Vatican Museums doors would open at 8am and all the “vip” groups ready to enter, would be inside in about 10-15 minutes.

Now, that’s not the case anymore. Numbers of visitors increased over the years, making crowds ten times worse than it used to be.

If you are flexible and you are planning to spend several days in Rome, have a look which day is the best to visit the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel.

In case you are thinking of going early there is a new way that only we, who are always on the spot, can discover for you.

Go early yes, but not too early: get a tour at 8.30am

Practically what happens: all the groups/tour companies with “vip” and “early” entrance will start to queue up from 7.20am on, waiting to enter at 8am. In this case, you go early to catch the spot in the security check line. You start early but you will be outside until the 8am access is allowed, exactly at 8am. If you’re lucky you and your group will be in at around 8.15am – 8.20am. So, if you start to line up at 7.20, you’ll be in at 8am; if you get your spot in the line at 7.30/35am, you’ll be in at 8.10am and so on… If the math isn’t wrong, the time you spend outside lining up in front of the Vatican Museums is 40 – 60 mins. So, logically, there is no “vip”, “early” or even worse “skip the line”.

8am groups line at the entrance of the Vatican Museums

Our trick is to meet at 8.20am, grab a coffee-to-go and with our group(s), each up to max 10 participants, enter at 8.30am by skipping (obviously) the line of those entering at 9am and, moreover, by skipping the line of the groups queuing from 7.20am. Small groups up to 10 people are allowed to skip all the lines and enter through a privileged access from 8.30am on.

Keep in mind that there are days before and after some extraordinary closures of the Vatican Museums that the line for the 8am tours is so long and some groups enter at 8.50am!

So, you don’t have to be necessarily “vip-early”, be just “smart-early”, join the Early Vatican Tour With Privileged Access which is a real privileged access and we can promise you will feel like a real vip.

 

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!!!!

Skip the Line, don’t get stuck in the heat!

Baby it’s hot outside but our guests are still smiling!!   Paola, our guide, is heading out with our guests from four different countries today, it’s literally a “Melting Pot” out here!!!!

paola grp pic june 17

 

Join one of our “Skip the Line” tours and spend your time seeing the sites, not waiting in the heat in line!!!

The smallest country in the world!

With just 110 acres of land area and approximately 1,000 citizens,  Vatican City is the world’s smallest country.  The city mints its own euros, has its own army, issues passports to its citizens and has a flag of its own too!  There are no border controls or security checks to enter the city and it is just a road away from Castel Sant’Angelo.

Though small in size, Vatican City deserves one full day to explore its gems.  The main attractions are St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s square with the obelisk and Vatican Museums with Sistine Chapel.

The Museum is known for its unique art collections gathered by various Popes.  With over 54 galleries on exhibit, it would take you weeks to see it all.  If you visit, you will probably visit the highlights, such as the Raphael Rooms, The Gallery of Maps, the Rotunda Room and The Tapestries Hall. Then, of course, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous frescoes in the world and unsurprisingly it’s one of Rome’s most visited and valued historic sites. Set within the Vatican City and Museums, the Sistine Chapel welcomes around 25,000 visitors a day who flock to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece and marvel at the feat of artistry. As cameras are banned, it’s one to make sure you don’t forget!

sistine chapel

St. Peter’s Square, built in the 17th century, was designed and built by Bernini and is heavily inspired by Baroque style.  It is in the shape of an elongated Trapezoid with semi-cirlce in the middle of it.  The Obelisk stands in the center and was originally located in Heliopolis in Egypt, and brought to Rome in 37 AD.

 

The Museums will take several hours to maneuver through the crowds.  City Lights Tours can provide guided tours throughout the museum, Sistine Chapel and a secret passage into St. Peter’s Basilica.

The last Sunday of every month, entry to the Vatican Museum is free!

 

Buongiorno from Roma!

The month of May brings lots of sunshine and happy faces visiting us at the Vatican!  Today, people from five different countries get to join our funny guide, Mario, to explore the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and “Skip The Line” for St. Peter’s Basilica.   Book with us online today!!

mario group

April at the Vatican!

We are waiting for you to join one of our group tours.   You will “skip the line” and get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.     Today, we have guests joining us from six different countries!!!

tania group

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