“What happens at the Vatican (Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, et al) when it is not open to public?” may be one of the more popular questions I am asked throughout the year. Though I like to imagine the Pope sliding through the halls in his red velvet slippers with his white frock sailing behind him laughing maniacally at his own private art collection, I usually answer something slightly more kosher and to the point such as “Lights out. It is closed.” This inevitably leads to the expected “I’ve heard about a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. Is that expensive?”
The obvious answer is yes, an exclusive for-your-eyes-only tour of Michelangelo’s double masterpiece is going to come at a very dear price. In a cursory glimpse into private Sistine Chapel tours, I found the average price to be from 330 to 1000 euro per person, depending on the number of people. And this quick research, I found there are numerous upstanding companies that offer amazing visits at even more amazing prices, but personally I prefer the almost-private Sistine visits which happens either with extreme weather or from May through July, and back again from September through October.
On balmy Friday evenings, when everyone is rushing to ready themselves for a swanky dinner at Dal Bolognese or or a more casual cocktail in Campo de’ Fiori, the Vatican Museums re-opens its doors to visits for Vatican Museums Under the Stars. No, you can’t just walk in, you must reserve your visit in advance and on-line– costs- 15 euro for adults, (8 euro for students) plus 4 euro on-line reservation charge. Total: 19 euro to watch the St. Peter’s dome illuminate from the Cortile della Pigna, before walking quietly through the museums with a handful of people who prefer to dine later in the evening after enjoying a calm (and yes, I must emphasize calm) visit in the Sistine Chapel.
Photo by Erica Firpo