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Vatican on Friday Night

Now that summer is winding down (and we're in the final prep for our October visit), we're hoping to hear from anyone out there who visited the Vatican on a Friday night. Previous posts I have read are older and we're concerned that this "new" feature isn't so new anymore, resulting in larger crowds, We have a Scavi tour reserved for 1pm, so we have the option of visiting with a tour early am (probably Walks of Italy Pristine Sistine) or visiting in the evening. FYI--DH and I have never been before, so any tips are welcome! Thanks!

Posted by
10 posts

We had an apartment 3 blocks from the Vatican for three nights in 2007. We never took a tour in Rome, and we used the "Best of Europe" Rick Steves book to walk the city and bus to the Roman Ruins part of the city. We once took the subway one way just for fun. There were times when I was the only person in St. Peter's Square and in the basilica in October. The trick is to not be there when the buses come in from the cruise ships. The lines wind forever to get into the Vatican museum, and the square is completely full of people. If you are able you must walk to the top of the basilica to view Rome. Enjoy!

Posted by
4152 posts

The evening hours are great. The crowds are less and it's not as hot inside. I'm not sure what information you're looking for but the night time at the museums is a really great time to visit.

Donna

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you, Robert! And Donna, it's the crowds that we're concerned with. We are hoping that they haven't found their way to the Friday night Vatican openings yet! The posts from a year ago (or more) gave us that insight, but as time goes by and more people realize that the museums and Sistine chapel have the extended Friday night hours, we just weren't sure how much less crowded those Friday nights are. Thank you!

Posted by
507 posts

mr, ;-)

I checked websites for the Vatican tours. Since this is your first time here are some thoughts from one who has been there.

There is a lot to take in. I went during the day when one my group was just one to two steps in front on the next tour. Needless to say I probably missed a lot. (Or it did did not sink in.). Friday night will be different as the crowds will not be there.

  • Consider taking a virtual tour. (http://vatican.com/tour). It is not to spoil your actual visit. You can leisurely see EVERYTHING that you will see on your tour and make notes as to what you want to pay attn to when you do the tour. Example: Michelangelo's statue of David was carved anatomically correct. The history behind the {edit: plaster} plastic fig leaf you will see on the statue's weenie is interesting. (http://totallyhistory.com/david-by-michelangelo/)

I am not trying to spoil it for you. My guide just barely explained "Why?" as if to not upset anyone in the group.

  • While DH is taking pics, have your cell phone or a small voice recorder ready to record your thoughts on what you see.

I can only say "I have been there." I wish I could go back on a Friday night when the tour groups are small. ("If wishes were horses, pigs would fly," so said my mother.)

I wish you a terrific trip!

My 2-Cents Worth

Posted by
8293 posts

My mother used to say "if wishes were horses beggars would ride."

Posted by
4152 posts

You're not restricted to taking a tour on Friday nights. You can visit the museums on your own and stay til closing if you wish. You can rent the audio guide or use a guide book. I've always found the guides very good and informative.

Donna

Posted by
25 posts

Donna: If we do choose to visit on Friday evening, we were thinking of using the audio guide, but do you think a Vatican guide would be the better option? Ultimately, we're still stumped as to which time works best to coincide with our Scavi tour at 1:15pm. On paper, an early am, early access tour (Like Walks of Italy Pristine Sistine), seems to compact the day best, but it's a very early start for our first full day in Italy...don't know how jet-lagged we'll be. Also, the early access tours are quite expensive, but seeing the Sistine Chapel without tons of people is important to us. That's why the Friday evening visit sounds more relaxed and less crowded, but will we have TOO much time on our hands between the Scavi tour (ending at 3:45pm), and the 7pm Friday night opening?

Posted by
4152 posts

Are you talking about the via triumphalis tour or the scavi tour under the basilica? They are two different tours and the scavi tour only lasts about 90 minutes, not 2.5 hours.

Depending on which tour you are actually taking you can do a few things. If it's the scavi tour under the basilica you can visit the basilica afterwards without needing to wait in the security line. You can spend an hour or so inside then visit the square. After that you'll probably want to get an early dinner before the night time at the Vatican museums.

If it's the via triumphalis tour you can visit the museums on your own for a while and then go somewhere for dinner and return to visit the museums for the friday nights. You'll find the museums and chapel without many people at all in them. And this won't cost you a small fortune. It's what I would, and have done.

Donna

Posted by
25 posts

It is the Scavi tour. My typo in the 3:45pm post...meant to write 2:45pm. Sorry! So after we visit the Basilica and the Square, we'll still have about 2-3 hours in between. Too much time? We're only in Rome for 3 days and want to make the most it! Anything else to see close by that you would recommend? The Friday night does sound so much more relaxed. How is the lighting in the museums and the chapel (it will be dark at that time in October). Also, where would you recommend we grab a leisurely early dinner before returning to the Vatican at 7pm? My sore hip and I will be ready to sit after the Scavi tour and St. Peter's!

Posted by
139 posts

We went to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel on Friday night last summer. Less crowded than reports of daytime visits I had been reading online. There was lots of space in the chapel. The cathedral closes in late afternoon so see it first if you plan to do it all in one day.

Posted by
3383 posts

I suspect that pigs actually would wish to fly, because they wouldn't want to ride a horse ;-)

We were there 2 Decembers ago, a bit before Christmas, but not on a Friday, either -- it wasn't super busy, but not empty, either. Hope your October trip is good!

Posted by
4152 posts

You could easily visit the Castel Sant Angelo. It's just up the street from the square. Spend an hour or so there and start making your way back to the museums entrance. Along the way you might want to stop off for a pannini or other quick bite but you should have enough time to find something to eat.

Donna

Posted by
25 posts

How is the lighting in the museums and the chapel (it will be dark at that time in October). Also, any recommendations for a leisurely early dinner before returning to the Vatican at 7pm?

Posted by
4152 posts

The lighting is fine. Even the chapel has additional lights.

Sorry, I can't help with dinner.

Donna

Posted by
25 posts

Another interesting feature for the Friday Night Vatican openings---I saw on the website (and read the one lone post on TripAdvisor), that the Vatican is offering a Happy Hour Buffet on Friday evenings in the courtyard as an option to add on for Friday night visitors. Has anyone had any experience with this?

Donna, you've been so generous with your time and advice. We wish you could suggest dining options, because they would certainly be wonderful!

Posted by
4152 posts

I'm actually a very picky eater. I don't eat any seafood and am very picky about the meat I eat. Most of the time I end up getting a salad or just vegetables because I don't like the meat selections. This is why I never make any restaurant suggestions. My husband is just the opposite, he will eat (or try) just about anything.

Here is one place you can try. It's not really close to the Vatican but they did have a wonderful lunch buffet that had lots of selections.

http://www.gusto.it/

It's been a while since I've been able to visit here again but the food was wonderful the last time I was there. I know this doesn't help with your vatican day but if you're in the neighborhood and looking for a place you can try here.

Here is another one I'm dying to get back to. It's not near the Vatican but you may be near it and can stop in.

http://www.salumeriaroscioli.com

Donna

Posted by
25 posts

Donna, The restaurant choices look fabulous! We will certainly try to find them. I knew you'd have good ideas! Anyone out there have good recommendations that may be near the Vatican? And what about that Happy Hour at the Vatican on Friday nights...any feedback on that option? Thanks!

Posted by
4152 posts

I haven't done the happy hour yet. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

Donna

Posted by
1501 posts

The Friday night buffet looked pretty darned good to me when I was there in 2012. It was SO much better seeing the Sistine at night, and I've been a number of times at different times of the year, always shoulder to shoulder with the throngs of people. We could actually sit on a bench and admire the materpieces. The new lighting wasn't yet installed, so I'd have gone a little earlier, but I understand that's not a problem any more.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks, Donna. I hope our experience is as good as yours was!

Posted by
3847 posts

We did the Walks of Italy night tour. Having never been in the Vatican before, I can say some rooms were crowded, but from what I've heard others say, it was probably not that bad. There are a lot of tour groups (like ours) that you have to wend your way around since we block everything ;)

There was an orchestra playing in the courtyard and people eating - it actually looking like a lovely time. I'm going to guess the rooms are better lit thru the day with natural light, but lighting is adequate. And please, for God's sake, don't take photos in the Sistine Chapel - there are signs posted everywhere, but I saw more then a few people be made to delete their snaps (and I'm sure some with phones who didn't get 'caught').

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks, NicoleP. Although "near empty" would have been nice to hear, I'll take it that your experience was still better than those that can't wait to leave the site because of the crowds earlier in the day. I'm assuming that the what you saw in the Pine Cone courtyard was the Friday night Happy Hour. Sounds nice!

Posted by
3847 posts

The most crowded rooms were the Raphael rooms (I hope I am getting that right). But even those were manageable. Even the Chapel was not that 'full' - and honestly, after looking at it for 5 min, we were done. But we don't appreciate art that much...lol. With the tour only being 2 hours, it was more of a speedwalk thru and seeing the highlights. I can certainly see how one could spend hours there.

Posted by
25 posts

NicoleP---Your most recent reply (thanks, btw), does make it sound more crowded than I initially thought. Would you describe the crowded rooms (Raphael and Chapel), as full (or close to full)? The few photos I have seen showed rooms that were less than 1/3 full. I realize this is a little subjective (and I really do appreciate your input!). I can still go early in the am and at least see an "almost empty" Chapel, although soon after the place will be teeming with bodies. Thanks!

Posted by
186 posts

We went to the Vatican Museum on a Friday night in late May. Having imagined a small crowd, I was surprised at just how many people there were outside before the doors opened. Once inside though, the crowd spread out and our visit was fine. You might be happier with the early tour.

Posted by
11613 posts

The Raphael rooms are quite small, but large enough to walk around and see everything closely. And the statue of David with a plastic fig leaf (shudder) is a copy at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Muchelangelo's original is in the Accademia Museum in Florence, no fig leaf.

Posted by
3847 posts

Yes - the rooms are small, maybe they were...1/2-2/3 full? You could still move around and get pics, it wasn't cheek to jowl full :)

There were some benches to sit on as well...