Hello. New to forum, grateful for all the help and advice from Rick Steves and the forum for upcoming European trip with daughter. My parents took me as a child in the 80s.
My question is: what is the most sensible to time to reserve tickets to the Vatican Museum on the day we arrive in Rome at Fiumicino at 7:45 AM flying United from the U.S.? We will have only carryon bags. At the airport I will need only to clear immigration, withdraw Euros from an ATM, and purchase tickets for and board a Leonardo Express train to Termini station. From the station it is a 20 minute walk to our Rick Steves recommended hotel in the Monti neighbor, close to Trajan's Forum. There we will check in, then walk to catch a #40, and then a #492, bus to the Vatican. Alternately, if time is short we can take a cab. At some point along the way I would also like to pick up a Roma Pass, but this could wait if time didn't allow.
My goal for the day, ostensibly, is to get to the Vatican Museum during the Wednesday morning Papal audience, spend up to 3 hours or more there, then continue to St. Peter's, and afterward to visit the Ara Pacis. Then, explore the Piazza Popolo and North Rome for as long as we can stay awake before returning to the hotel.
1 hour and 50 minutes from the time we are scheduled to land allows us to catch a 9:35 LE train getting us to our hotel by 10:30, suggesting that a reservation time at the Vatican Museum of 11:30 AM is doable. However, I am wondering what others think. Missing our reservation time seems fairly catastrophic. Thanks for any advice.