Vatican Museums "Under the Stars" - A Unique Experience

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by JEFF NUNES on November 16, 2011

On a visit to Rome this October, I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of what is titled Vatican Museums "Under the Stars".
I booked my "Under the Stars" reservations online about a month prior to my departure from the U.S. paying the 19 Euro total with a debit card.
(Online booking is mandatory for these "Under the Stars" openings.)
These new openings are on Friday evenings from 7pm-11pm, in the spring and early summer and again in the fall from September through October.
Three years ago, the Vatican Musuems initiated these "extraordinary openings" as they were referred to at the time.
Apparently, these evening openings have proven to be successful, successful enough to repeat them each spring and fall since. They are a benefit to Romans whose regular work schedule makes visiting the museums during the day difficult as well as a benefit to tourists and even to repeat visitors who may have taken one of the numerous daytime tours.
I am among the latter.
The benefit to tourists is obvious. Rome has so many attractions and historic sites that can only be fully appreciated and visited during the daylight hours. "Under the Stars" gives tourists the opportunity to enjoy the great volume of art at the museum at a leisurely pace once the sun has set.
A visit during the day is still recommended to be able to enjoy fully the historic gardens and architecture within and around the museum complex.
Last month's evening tour was self-guided with the aid of an audio guide.
The areas open to the public are:
The Egyptian Museum, Pio-Clementine Museum, Upper Galleries of the Museums, Gallery of Tapestries Gallery of the Candelabra, the Hall of Maps, Raphael's Rooms, Borgia Apartment, Collection of Modern Religious Art and The Sistine Chapel.
My previous two visits guided tours, a little pricey and both were mid-day when the museums were packed.
This time, the "Under the Stars" tour was a self- guided tour using simply an audio guide. Due to the time of day (7:00 pm-11:00) I was could see so much than I have in the past. I was able to see and appreciate much more and had the time to absorb more than I ever did on my past two Museum visits.
One prime example is the Sistine Chapel. During the daytime tours, it was shoulder to shoulder and because of the crowds, it was hush, hush, and hurry, hurry, being allowed perhaps five - ten minutes to try to see everything there is to see before being ushered out. For the first time I was able to truly appreciate Michelangelo’s ceiling.
This time, there was room, room to walk around and actually see the detailed artwork in The Chapel. There was no "hushing", no rushing, just enjoyment.
My tour of the Raphael Rooms also seemed like a first time event since I was allowed the time to absorb Raphael's rich artistry which adorns these four rooms in once was a Papal Apartment.
I strongly recommend a visit to the Vatican Museums "Under the Stars" to both those who have already made daytime visits and to those for whom it will be a first time experience.
If one wishes to take advantage of this unique experience, booking online is mandatory.

The last admission is at 9.30 pm.
Exit from the galleries begins 30 minutes prior to closing time.
Vatican Museums Online Ticket Office
Vatican Museums
Viale Vaticano
Rome, Italy, 00165
0039 06 69884676

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