If you find yourself in Rome over the summer (& on a Friday night), you absolutely have to get tickets for the Vatican Aperitif & Night Tour! There is nothing like enjoying a glass of wine while listening to a concert in Fontana della Digna & exploring the Vatican Museums under the starlit sky. In fact, this is probably one of Rome’s best kept secrets!
walking down Via Della Conciliazione — the best way to approach the Vatican
The Vatican Museums are located within Vatican City & display works of art from the immense collection amassed by Popes throughout the centuries. While the Museums contain roughly 70,000 works of art, only 20,000 are on display.
The Museums were founded in the early 16th century by Pope Julius II. Along the visitor route, you will be able to visit the Sistine Chapel, with the ceiling decorated by Michaelangelo (a total pinch me moment); the Raphael Rooms with the famous Stanza della Segnatura; the Gallery of Geographic Maps by Ignazio Danti; & various other masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Bellini, & Titian.
In 2018 alone, more than 6.7 million people visited the Vatican Museums. Surprisingly, this makes the Vatican Museums only the 4th most visited museum in the world! The lines to enter the Vatican Museums are some of the longest in all of Rome. Considering the sheer volume of people who visit the Vatican on a daily basis, we were so happy we purchased tickets for a night tour. Not only did we get to enjoy an aperitif & free concert, but the crowds were far fewer by nightfall. We were able to wander the Vatican Museums at a leisurely pace, & we never felt like we had to fight crowds to view any of the exhibits. Plus, there is something so special about being in a museum at night.
You can reserve tickets online through the Vatican Museum official website. The ticket includes one drink (you can purchase additional drinks for 7 euros), access to an extensive buffet (with surprisingly very good food!), & entrance to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel.
If you’re planning to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, note the opening hours (7am-7pm). We ended up visiting the Basilica on a separate day around 6pm — it took about 10 minutes to get through security & the crowds were minimal.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world & was primarily designed by Donato Bramante, Michaelangelo, & Bernini. The Basilica contains the world’s most renowned pieces of Renaissance art & architecture, & is considered to be the world’s holiest Catholic shrine.