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A Night at the Vatican Museums


While I think it would extremely fun if some of the statutes came to life during my evening tour of the Vatican Museums in June, I suppose that’s not likely to happen. And maybe that’s for the best – as much as I admire the Laocoon, I really wouldn’t want to deal with those serpents!

Rome’s Vatican Museums has begun offering evening tickets on certain Friday nights this spring and summer and while it isn’t yet well-advertised, I think it’s going to be a hit! Advance tickets are necessary so I booked mine yesterday for the first Friday in June, a few days after I arrive to begin this year’s edition of my annual pilgrimage to Italy.

I could be wrong (as usual) but I’m imagining the intensely popular museums will be much less crowded during the 7-11 p.m. evening visits window than during normal hours. I’ve found that many of my fellow tourists tend to be extremely predictable! I’ve visited the Vatican Museums many times and invariably, they’re extremely crowded right at opening each morning (presumably because all the tour buses arrive at the same time.) But if I time my visit to arrive at lunch hour, I can usually walk right again. Again, the bus tours have all headed off for lunch then, so the place is mine.

The one exception I’ve found to these experiences is when visiting off-season. Three years ago, in January 2008, I rented an apartment for two weeks in Rome’s Campo de’Fiori neighbourhood from Natalia at Dolce Roma and popped over to St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums several times. Each visit was blissfully calm, quiet, no loud crowds….at times, I even had the Sistine Chapel almost to myself!!!

I’m hoping to revisit that experience this year with the Friday night ticket. My only concern is how to get home at 11 p.m. after the museo closes. This year, for the first time in a dozen visits to Rome, I’m staying in an apartment in Monti, a neighbourhood close to the Colosseum and an hour’s walk from the Vatican. I’m renting again from Natalia at Dolce Roma. Normally, I’m not fussed by long walks and I’m certainly not nervous about roaming around Rome at night! But I’ve seriously hurt my left knee and I know that I’m going to have to baby it on this trip by limiting my walking. A long walk home from the Vatican might not be possible, especially after a busy day of wandering Rome.

I’ve heard that the cab stand near St. Peter’s square all but closes down at night (since the Vatican all but closes down!) And while I’m not nervous about walking, I don’t enjoy the subway at midnight. So that’s out. Well, perhaps Natalia will have some ideas. Or, with my Italian cell phone, I suppose I could call a cab. Anyone know the correct terminology for “vorrei un taxi, per favore?”

Comments (9)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, what a nice little secret. I love visiting museums but the experience is so much more enjoyable without the huge crowds. I would love to have the Sistine chapel to myself....

Sorry to hear about your knee. I bet Natalia will have some helpful tips for you.

I'm very excited for you that your trip is getting closer. Happy trip planing.


Hi Kathy, thanks! My knee is a real concern (all those years when I was a runner did some damage.) But it won't stop me from enjoying Italy!

So sorry to hear about your knee! I'll be curious to hear about this evening visit - could be wonderful esp. since they aren't publicizing it much yet. Your trip is getting closer by the minute!


Thanks Annie. Yes, my trip is coming up fast and I haven't been so diligent about planning as I usually am. So, I'm glad to have this ticket booked; I think it will be a really interesting experience to prowl around the Vatican after dark!


Hi Sandra, just catching up on your blog, it has been too long! Sorry to hear about your knee, knee pains sucks... As for the taxi, you could even book one for 11pm so that it is waiting for you when you leave the museum. It should be easy to find a number, and if you call you could say "Vorrei prenotare un taxi per stasera alle 11, alla uscita dei Musei Vaticani."


Hi Chiocciola, it's great to hear from you again! And thanks for this advice -- booking a cab in advance makes a lot of sense. I'll just have to be sure to be very clear with my name when booking so they don't take off with some other museum visitor!


Haha, good point! Make sure you get the number of the cab, too.


Just heard about this yesterday and plan to get tickets for Mom and I in July. Happily we are staying just beside Castel San Angelo, so won't have too far to walk to get "home" afterward!


Yay, Anne -- hope you and your Mom have a wonderful evening!

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