History speaks to you from every masterpiece. This experience is on the top of the must-see list for your first Rome visit. The price you have to pay for your Vatican museum ticket, however, goes beyond the amount in Euro – it is also in time and effort. For most Vatican museum visitors, the Sistine Chapel is the desired destination. If you are doing a short Roman visit, you can keep your Vatican Museum Tour minimal, by breezing through the entire museum (approximately a 30-minute walk) and settling down to admire the piece du resistance, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Although, it is a pity to bypass such extraordinary artwork, there are so many other things in Rome to see. Like the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, nor can you see it all in that period of time. Choose your priorities wisely.
Regardless of whether you decide to express your visit or to explore every mysterious nook and impressive cranny, you will have to endure the long line and the dress check at the Vatican museum entrance. The dress code is objective. One guard may let in someone wearing a knee-length skirt and another might not. In order to be on the safe side, cover your legs and arms. Men who show their ankles are normally turned away, even after the long wait. If you find yourself on an unscheduled visit and are improperly dressed, stop over at any nearby newsstand and purchase paper pants or a scarf for about five euro each. You may risk being photographed for Vogue’s “Fashion Don’t” page, but at least you will be granted entry.
Enjoy a free entry to the Vatican Museum on the last Sunday of every month. Be prepared for an excruciatingly long line, as everyone will have had the same brilliant idea – which after a few hours of waiting will no longer seem that brilliant. Another option to consider is to get on line two hours before closing time when many visitors have gone to lunch. You may risk not getting in, so only try it if you happen to be in the area and if it is not your only opportunity to visit the Vatican Museum. If splurging on luxury is an option, you can also buy tickets for an after-hours Vatican visit.
Once you are inside, there are gardens where you can take a relaxing pause in the sun. If you dare, open a window and poke your head out for a rare view of the Pope’s private grounds. If you are lucky and find yourself at the right place at the right time, a door may open, momentarily revealing private quarters that are never open to the public.
While most visitors intend on visiting Saint Peter’s Basilica and would also like to see the Pope, make sure you plan your itinerary well. The Pope may be seen on Wednesdays at 11am at Saint Peter’s Basilica and briefly on Sundays at noon from the window overlooking Saint Peter’s Piazza, but only if he happens to be in town. The Museum hours vary throughout the year and there are many little-known holidays that seem to pop up out of nowhere. Remember, the last entry into the museum is always much earlier than the closing time, so plan accordingly in order to enjoy all that the extraordinary Vatican Museum has to offer.