Vatican City walkthrough, Rome, Italy
Much has been written and said about the Vatican City. The sheer amount of history, legacy and heritage is not something that I can cover in a blog post. You can find out more from their official website here or on Wikipedia here.
Top 8 tips and tricks from my experience:
1. On my recent visit last week to the Vatican City, what I found most useful was to have my local tour agent - Ciao Tours - arrange the visit beginning with the hotel transfer, the pre-booked fast pass through the entry queue, the local guide and the conclusion at St. Peter’s Basilica.
2. We did the fast tour that lasted about 3 hours and covered the history of the Sistine Chapel, museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. There’s a lot of history to cover so if you are travelling alone, I would suggest renting the audio guide. If you are like me, and part of a tour, stick close to the local guide who can provide you with interesting nuggets of information along the way.
3. Go early in the morning before the large tour groups arrive.
4. It’s going to be crowded and some patience when trying to get photos would be needed.
5. There’s lots of opportunity to get souvenirs so don’t bother until you finish or wrap up at St. Peter’s.
6. If you really want to see the pope:
You can either see a usual blessing from his apartment at noon on Sunday, just show up (but in the summer he gives it from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 25 miles from Rome) or you can go to the more formal Wednesday appearance. The pope arrives in the popemobile at 10:30AM to bless crowds from a balcony or platform, except in winter, when he speaks in the Aula Paola VI Auditorium next to the square. You can easily watch from a distance, or get a free ticket, which you must get on the Tuesday before.
7. Photography is allowed but refrain from using flash. Photography is not allowed in the Sistine Chapel but everyone seems to be sneaking a picture. If you have to, take a quick one and keep the camera. The guards there spend all their time on the intercom telling tourists to stop taking photos. Sometimes, they get irritated enough to tell someone off directly. If that someone is you, take it in your stride and make your exit.
8. Finally, something fun to do, is to purchase a postcard and get it mailed from the Vatican post office, located conveniently at the end of your tour/visit. The letter/postcard will be postmarked from the Vatican City. This makes a neat gift or souvenir.
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