The Vatican is a must see if you are visiting Rome, but only if you use this very important tip. Years ago a good friend advised me to find a private/semi-private licensed tour guide to avoid lines and to ensure seeing exactly the right things. Best advice ever!
We secured a semi-private tour on short notice. Yes, its little pricy and a little hard to find but so worth it. When you come upon the mass of humanity forming layered lines in the scorching sun, you will thank me and Sharon for the tip.
The boyfriend and I waited in a small office down the street from the Vatican’s entrance getting to know the other tour guests who were from all over the world. We had a lively discussion waiting there in comfy chairs, in the shade.
Once all gathered, our guide discussed the rules for admission. Some rules were very strict and if broken could ban our guide from the Vatican forever even strip her of her license. Ok, I am relatively impressed now…
Our guide checked to make sure we all understood the rules, made sure all of us were appropriately attired to enter a holy place, and then we were off.
We walked down the street passing through the lines into the “air-conditioned” admission area swarming with people. There is a special admission area for private tours where we entered with ease. Just this alone saved more than three hours of waiting in the hot sun.
In the middle of our tour as we were being moved through the Vatican with large groups like cattle, there was one area that was being closed off. Our tour guide flashed her badge and was allowed entrance with our group. Don’t ask me why… She is special.
Because of the special tour, the Vatican was fantastic. If I had waited in the lines and then had to endure the duration, crowds, and heat, it would not have been worth it. In all, we arrived, waited, toured, shopped, and left in less than four hours. We had the entire afternoon ahead of us.