Hello: We will be traveling to Italy this Spring, 2019 and will be spending as much time as possible in the Vatican The Bascilica and Vatican City. My husband has diabetes and needs to eat every couple of hours. Will he be able to bring a snack or two into the Vatican (typically in a bag). Or does security forbid any packages. Is there any food/snacks inside the Vatican? Would he be able to use a bathroom there? Any information would be very helpful.
What kind of arrangements are you making to be able to be inside Vatican City?
There is a cafeteria that serves the pinacoteca but imo it is one of the worst dining experiences in Italy -- like middle school summer camp without the charm. You're better off with energy bars in your pockets.
The major approaches to the access points for the Basilica and the museums are chock full of cold table and hot table holes-in-the-wall, mostly catering to tourists. Flashier dining opportunities are along the east-west streets that connect to the river. My guess is that people who have business inside but no access to their private facilities will eat near the relevant subway stops.
I disagree with that review of the Vatican Museums food. It is not normal Italian slow-food, but it is satisfactory for a day dedicated to non-Foodie tourism. Don’t waste time, sun, and heat traipsing to a 2-hour meal!
Edit: You did not say that your husband has any difficulty walking long distances. But you need to understand that everything in this area, even entering the Vatican Museums from public transit, involves lots of walking. That's another reason (besides security scanning and lines to enter) not to leave the interior of the attraction. Because the Vatican Museums are laid out as a group of continuous labyrinths (I mean that you can't just exit from one gallery back to the entrance) you can't even take an intermission from the classical or post-Renaissance collections without a long walk out, and back to where you were. I suggest he hide some nutrition bars in his back pockets, or something like that. Maybe plastic wrapped rather than foil wrapped, just in case.
Like any museum , there are plenty of bathrooms. (Perhaps not water fountains ... this is Europe, after all.) There are many choices for food inside the Vatican, including outdoor kiosks, an elaborate cafeteria, and a fast-service (cold!) pizza slice and hero sandwich place, with it's own stand up and High-Top seating.
I realize now that you did not distinguish between "Vatican" [City] and "Vatican Museums". Perhaps you meant that you want to wander around Vatican City, as well as the meat of the attraction. You also didn't say whether you have a half-day, one day, or three days to "spend as much time as possible in the Vatican."
Note that there are two or three (advance booking only) garden tours (one or two on a tram, one walking.) And there is a less-known roof deck, with its own tiny cafe, and interesting views. That is associated with the "Dome Climb[/Elevator Option]".
My original point was that you have too much to do to fuss about gourmet food that day.
I have been to Rome in December only. But, I'm sure the Spring will be beautiful.
There are a ton of little eateries around and in the St. Peter's Square area as well as branching out into the Vatican neighborhoods.
This area is nice. https://www.likealocalguide.com/rome/borgo-pio
The Vatican has a security check.. If you intend to go to Saint Peter's "right after" which is the logical thing to do, don't bring a huge backpack, big umbrella, or large bags - you will be asked to check them. In that case, you would need to retrieve your belongings, and that would interfere with your going directly into Saint Peter's. Just bring a small backpack or tote to carry the necessary things.
Small to medium-sized bags were allowed when I visited the Vatican two years ago. Coats, jackets, hats are okay after they are put on the security belt. Assisted walking devices are okay.
Water bottles are okay, or they were when I went, but need to be put in your bag. If you can, bring small protein bars or bars for your husband needs. It's easier to be discreet than have a bag of "something" and have it spill by accident.
You cannot eat or drink in the Sistine Chapel. You cannot talk or take photos.
I'm sure you are aware - the Vatican will be jammed. It will be a drive-by experience, sadly, unless you go for the very early Vatican tour. Or, if you're going without a group, be there as early as you can.
Saint Peter's will be a breath of fresh air once you enter the Basilica. It won't be half as crazy and pushy as the Vatican. Cameras are okay in most areas. The guards will shush anyone out of control. This past year, a couple of people were shown "the big doors out" because they were not acting accordingly. They don't mess around.
I cannot speak on where the bathroom is in the Vatican. But, with Saint Peter's, there is one - you exit, turn left, go down the many steps, and to your left, there will be signage directing you to the restroom. There is a guard or two around also. The ladies room had an attendant - no coins needed for the toilet or a tip. You wait in line, and she calls you in as patrons exit.
Keep in mind that once you exit the doors of St. Peter's, you cannot turn around and go back in after the restroom visit. You could wait in line again and go through security.
There is a small religious store (near the ground floor? that had some "different things" than the Basilica's gift stores.) The ladies in the front part of the store were fun to talk to. One of them gave me an invite to attend
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xn2oKUhopE Stunning!! The whole celebration is gorgeous and so calming...you walk out of the Basilica just in awe...
The invitation is beautiful too. I kept it and will frame at a later date. I put it between the post cards I bought. I took a pic of it, but was not sure I could post it on the forum.
Check out - It's a long street. More concentrated foot traffic near St. Peter's.
Via del Mascherino
angolo Borgo, Pio
The whole area has little shops, eateries. The area is behind Saint Peter's.
eta: A couple of helpful hints - maybe you do this anyway.... But, I bring a padded mailer - 8" x 4" to put keepsake postcards I buy. It keeps them flat. This trip, I bought a book/guide of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Basilica gift shop. It was €9 - not bad since it's a good size book. If you buy this, make sure to check it is the "English" version. The guys who work in the gift shops are on top of things - restocking and straightening. But, as with retail, things can get missed.
Also, I bring some extra bubble wrap sheets even though most gift shops wrap Limoncello and the like with bubble wrap; or so I have found. Supermarkets probably won't if you buy "glass anything."
Thank you so much everyone for the detailed replies. We are just planning the trip, and I am thinking about going with a tour or even a private tour. We want to be able to do as much as possible in the Vatican area. I think that your suggestions will be very helpful for my husband -- he does do the protein bars, but wants to be careful just in case he feels low sugar. He walks just fine and we both work out, so I think we will be tired, but happy tired !
Whilst not in Vatican City itself there is a wonderful Salumeria across the bridge a short 20 minute walk away in which I've eaten the best Porchetta and salami/ham anywhere. It was so good we stayed for two hours and had several more platters and bottles of wine than we initially intended.
We are just planning the trip, and I am thinking about going with a
tour or even a private tour. We want to be able to do as much as
possible in the Vatican area.
dascouten, just be aware that no single tour covers ALL areas of Vatican City which are open to the public. The scavi, for instance, is its own tour and must be reserved - quite far in advance - on a different website than other tours.
Taking a tour (or tours) is fine but if your husband needs to dig into that protein bar mid point, he might have to leave the group to do that as noshing is not allowed in the galleries, in the church, etc. He would have to find a place where it would be OK, such as the Pine Cone Courtyard or one of the cafeterias at the museums. I personally don't think he'll have any issue bringing one or two bars with him; consuming them discretely might take just a little more effort.
That said, no guide would want one of their charges to have a medical issue on their watch so if he WAS to a point that he MUST eat, a discrete word aside would, I'm sure, get you pointed in the right direction or other sort of assistance so not to worry. Any proactive measures he can take to delay that snack would also be helpful, such as consuming a little something RIGHT before a tour.
LOL, the museums are such a zoo that he probably could get away with breaking small bits off a bar in his pocket and discretely popping them in his mouth when completely surrounded, although I wouldn't try that in the Sistine, and it definitely wouldn't fly on a scavi tour. Still, that would be breaking the rules, and encouraging disobedience is a tsk-tsk on the forums! :O)
From the Vatican, I would walk (and have walked) to Bonci Pizzarium, Via della Meloria, 43. We eat there every time we're in Rome, actually.
BTW...You need to make your reservation now for the Vatican's Scavi Tour. This is the underground tour below the Basillica where the bones of St. Peter rest. A deeply religious experience. Reservations fill up fast, and it is extremely limited. Look in Rick Steve's Italy guidebook for details. Also make a reservation for your entry into the Vatican Museum, our favorite museum in all of Europe. It is huge and includes the Sistine Chapel. Dont wait in the 2-3 hour line to get into the museum, make a reservation and you'll only have to wait 15-20 minutes. Do not carry a daybag or backpack into the Basillica or museum. Carry snacks in a small purse of fanny pack. The Guidebook had info that is essential to avoid lines and standing around.
As for food, get off the beaten path. The area around the Vatican caters to the hordes of tourists. You're better off finding a place a few blocks away.
We will finalize plans next week as I am working with a travel agent. We are aware of prebooking the Scavi Tour and will make sure we do that asap.
Do not carry a daybag or backpack into the Basillica or museum. Carry
snacks in a small purse of fanny pack
Please don't wear a fanny pack. Please. They're not a particularly safe way to carry valuables, and are one of the more obvious markings of tourist, not that the locals won't figure that out anyway.
My husband and I both carried a modest-sized shoulder bags into the museums without issue. One of them was 'secured' with locking zippers, and the other wasn't but didn't have anything of real value in it aside from my camera.
Here is a video for you to get some information and ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKVOoixNkrs
Sean is very good (and sprinkles some humor in) at explaining things in and around Rome. They also run tours which get excellent reviews.
eta: I have not taken their tours, but in his video, Sean mentions Borgo Pio to explore - at 4:14. Some of it may be a little touristy. The same suggestion I gave you in an above post. Coincidence, lol. But, I have a friend who owns one of his two stores in the area.
Also check out walksofitaly.com - another great tour group.
Be aware that the scavi tour is a little claustrophic. I was,worried about where to eat but the little cafes outside the vatican were sufficient and fast.