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Vatican tours and audio guides in general

Front Royal...
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Vatican tours and audio guides in general

We will be in Rome Sept 5 and I see that is the day that Friday evening tours of the Vatican Museum resume. This sounds like a relatively quiet and great option for our family of 4 (2 teens.)

From reading some other posts, it sounds like I should not bother purchasing the international student id card and just get the full price ticket. With advice from dbabe, I am leaning toward the audio guide or a Rick Steve's download instead of an actual guide since it would give us more flexibility during our tour. The vatican website says that on the day that we have the tickets we can visit on our own (without a guide) the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel and is valid for the day of issue. I am assuming that the basilica is included in that, and if so, how much time would you leave to tour the basilica before we queue for the museum and chapel entrance at 7 pm?

What is the scoop with seeing the Pope from his balcony?

Actually, regarding the audioguides, I would love to get your opinion on the use of these at other sites in Rome. Here is a little trip advisor info I could find on this...

Regarding audioguides to different sites:

With Rick Steves' Rome guidebook you could get away without using any audioguides. The audioguide at the Colosseum is bad. The Vatican museum audioguide is pretty good. The Borghese Gallery audioguide is wonderful-you learn why each piece was created, the gossip behind the artwork and the artist.

The Rick Steves guide to the Vatican is useful - especially the "exit the Sistine Chapel" shortcut - and his section on the Palatine is good. Tear them out of the book and take them with you.

Rent the one at St Peters Bascillica. Its a must!

Thanks for your help! I am behind on my reservations, but I think some time now will be well spent and any direction is appreciated.

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Boise, Idaho
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1. Re: Vatican tours and audio guides in general

The Friday night openings at the Vatican Museums will not allow entrance to St. Peters as the basilica will already be closed.

Brussels, Belgium
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2. Re: Vatican tours and audio guides in general

Can't resist pointing out that you are not going to get to see anything "from" the Pope's balcony!

When the Pope is in Rome he can be seen - from St. Pieters Square - at noon on Sundays, when he appears at the window of the papal apartments, on the top floor of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace: http://www.papalaudience.org/information

3. Re: Vatican tours and audio guides in general

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