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Vatican museums / Sistine Chapel tour

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RooFlyer

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Have just bought tickets (voucher) for visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel including audioguides. 9am start (first of the day) in July.

Any tips to get the best out of the visit? Is it a 'set route', or can you go your own way? If the latter, I imagine zooming straight to the Sistine Chapel would be the go, hopefully ahead of the crowds?

On that subject, do tour groups get in before individuals? (We found that at the Hermitage, St Petersburg they do so even though we were first in line, by the time we got in, the place was already packed :( )

Any 'tricks' in getting in - I see for on line vouchers you have to present to Customer Care, go through security and then exchange voucher for ticket. Is this straightforward?

ps have seen a number if posts on AFF re this, but looking for recent situation :)
 

JessicaTam

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I had a guided tour when I was there in Feb and the ability to skip the queue to get in was great. I don't think that will apply to normal pre-bought tickets. Sorry.

I think they have brochures with suggested routes, but am not sure. The tour finished in the Sistine Chapel and we spent an hour just looking. Get a seat on one side and you can sit and look for ages. Then go and sit on the other side. We then wandered out into the cathedral and again spent ages just looking. Take your time, and sit when you can.

Oh, by the large pillar on the centre-left towards the front of the cathedral there is a discreet stairwell down to the catacombs. Tricky to find, but worth the trip.
 

medhead

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My experience is old, 2007. But I think the tour guides will still get to queue jump. The whole Vatican was very interesting. But the Sistine chapel was the absolute stand out for me.

Before getting in there they did the whole no photos allowed thing and I wasn't bothered. Once in there I had to take photos and video. I strongly suggest making sure your camera is in stealth mode so you can discretely take pictures if it takes your fancy. By discrete I mean down by your side shoot from the hip stuff, as they seemed to jump pretty quickly on anyone hold up a camera. But this was a long time ago.
 

Bali Belly

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I had a guided tour when I was there in Feb and the ability to skip the queue to get in was great. I don't think that will apply to normal pre-bought tickets. Sorry.

I think they have brochures with suggested routes, but am not sure. The tour finished in the Sistine Chapel and we spent an hour just looking. Get a seat on one side and you can sit and look for ages. Then go and sit on the other side. We then wandered out into the cathedral and again spent ages just looking. Take your time, and sit when you can.

Oh, by the large pillar on the centre-left towards the front of the cathedral there is a discreet stairwell down to the catacombs. Tricky to find, but worth the trip.
I also agree the general public were lined up for miles my tip would be to get there early very early as the tour groups all arrive at once and just sail through
It can be a case of following the sheep as you all try to get an advantage point to take photos but the reward is ultimately the best in the world and do make use of the seats and no sneaky photos!
 

RooFlyer

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My experience is old, 2007. But I think the tour guides will still get to queue jump. The whole Vatican was very interesting. But the Sistine chapel was the absolute stand out for me.

Before getting in there they did the whole no photos allowed thing and I wasn't bothered. Once in there I had to take photos and video. I strongly suggest making sure your camera is in stealth mode so you can discretely take pictures if it takes your fancy. By discrete I mean down by your side shoot from the hip stuff, as they seemed to jump pretty quickly on anyone hold up a camera. But this was a long time ago.
Friend told me his experience. He was blatantly taking photos in the Chapel about 20 years ago. A padre/priest came up and told him "Sorry sir, no photos allowed". Friend: "Sorry, I don't speak Italian." Padre: "I don't bloody well either."

The entire exchange was in English, with broad Australian accents on both sides.
 

medhead

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:D :D bloody smart **** Aussies.


They had dudes in security/police like uniforms when I was there. Shame as that probably can't happen again.
 

Fifa

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Make sure you also walk/climb to the top of St Peter's Basilica cupola - a fantastic experience.
 

Pushka

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When you reach the Sistine Chapel and you are ready to leave, walk to the back right and try look like you are part of a tour. And leave by that door. This takes you downstairs and a quick entry to the Basilica and avoiding the huge security queues. The door is guarded. If you take the door on the left it takes you back through the entire museum and you have to go to the start of the security queue for the Basilica.

We were blown away by the sheer magnificence of the Basilica.

I'm a fan of The Borgia series and it was amazing to be standing in his actual bedroom! How things change in a 1,000 years.

They were constantly yelling at people to stop taking photos.
 

A330

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I was there in July 2012. Not having prepaid a ticket I joined the queue snaking around the Vatican walls. If your prepaid ticket allows queue jump you will save a good 30 mins of queuing. But you won't be able to avoid the queues at the security check.
The tour groups are extremely frustrating as once you think you have gotten away from one, you run into another one next to them! I likened the experience to Ikea in that most of the time you just follow the crowd all going in one direction. No chance to go back to something you missed.
I second the suggestion to tag onto a tour group using the right side exit from the Sistine Chapel. Much easier to get into St Peters. It's a shame that despite the constant blasts to be quiet and take no photos, everybody ignored the directions.
 

codash1099

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I did it about 2 years ago with Angel Tours. Very small group (5) and a good guide. Skipped the queues. I wouldn't try it alone or in a big group.
 

NFF

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A friend of mine was allowed to take photos inside the Chapel with camera flash switched off. The Vatican website had a 3D view of the Chapel.
 

codash1099

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A friend of mine was allowed to take photos inside the Chapel with camera flash switched off. The Vatican website had a 3D view of the Chapel.
Doubt that he/she was "allowed". The reason behind the "no photos" ruling, as explained to me, was that a large benefactor (Japanese?) had put quite a few $$$ into a refurbishment and consequently owns the copyright.
 

JessicaTam

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Doubt that he/she was "allowed". The reason behind the "no photos" ruling, as explained to me, was that a large benefactor (Japanese?) had put quite a few $$$ into a refurbishment and consequently owns the copyright.
I have to admit that sounds unlikely. I would rather think that they just want to control the images that are issued. :confused:
 

Pushka

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I heard the same story about Japan? Funding the restoration and limiting pictures.
 

ALH

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We had a private tour after hours in 2007. Probably one of the best experiences I've had. Our guide spent quite a lot of time explaining what we would see before we went in. It was nice and quiet with so few people. No photos.
 

robd

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We did a guided tour at the Vatican last year and whilst we had quick and easy access through, our guide seemed to be more of an art expert rather than an historian - imparting the style of painting and method rather than the history behind the piece. She was boring. We still enjoyed seeing it, but it would have been a lot more pleasant with a better guide. We had a brilliant guide through the Colosseum, who managed to bring it to life with his knowledge. What a difference a good tour guide makes!

Our guide told us that photos weren't allowed to be taken in the Sistine Chapel because the flashes fade the paint :/
 
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RooFlyer

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Hmmm ... I'm getting the feeling that we should have opted for a tour rather than just buying tickets. Tickets were about 22 euro each and I think non refundable. Would be a waste, but put in context of trip, not a big deal.
 

Pushka

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A guide is good but just do your reading in advance. We didn't have one but I'd taken an interest in the Borgias (the Pope who "created" the artwork collection and lived there - he was an interesting guy!) and felt like we achieved a lot by the visit. ImageUploadedByAustFreqFly1401577759.176362.jpg
 

Sprucegoose

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Doubt that he/she was "allowed". The reason behind the "no photos" ruling, as explained to me, was that a large benefactor (Japanese?) had put quite a few $$$ into a refurbishment and consequently owns the copyright.
copyright on the Sistine Chapel?
 
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