24/10/2022 – EDIT. *The following post has been written at the peak of the pandemic. Things are smoothier now but some of the rules are still on. For updates and most recents access rules, we will suggest to contact each of the sites mentioned. If you are planning to book a tour with us, we will promptly inform you of any change at the moment of the booking*
We are finally back with our summer tours!
After months of reorganization and virtual tours (that we loved so much and from what we heard you did too) we’re able to go back inside Museums and Outdoor sites.
We’re mostly working with Romans and Italians who are full of a renewed excitement in exploring their own cities.
Starting from 1st of July the EU borders are finally open, so we’re also expecting visitors from all around Europe… How are we managing tours with new rules??
First step probably the most predictable: MASKS
Both guide and visitors have to wear a mask. Yes, every time and everywhere. And…yes, even outdoors.
Why? Health! When you’re taking a tour, it is just as if as you’re taking part to a show and the producers and show managers are the ones responsible for the rules. During a guided tour we host people that don’t know each other, and there might be someone affected by the virus and without being aware of it, so in order to protect yourself and the people around you, you have to wear a mask. Health and protectionJ
We will ask you to wear a mask even outdoor for your own safety and for the safety of all our guests and last but of course not least because this is what it has been established by Italian Law…and we don’t want to break the lawJ
Plain and simple
And when you think and that it is a stress wearing a mask for 2 hours even if you are outdoor just think to your poor guide who’s wearing a mask while giving explanations. We are in this together and it’s a tiny effort after weeks of lockdown.
So, what we can visit and how have our tours changed:
Let’s start with the Biggies: Vatican Museums and Archeological Park (aka Colosseum, Roman Forum/ Palatine hill).
Main rule for both of them: You must have a reservation and you must wear a mask!!
Don’t even bother showing up at Museums and at the Colosseum without either one. There is no way around this.
VATICAN MUSEUMS and SISTINE CHAPEL
They reopened with streamlined procedures and, to be fair, without any problems (let’s not say it too loud). Let’s repeat it, yet again: you always need the reservation! Do you know the very long lines along Viale Vaticano and Via Leone IV? Well, they are no longer there and if you put yourself in line it would only be for a kind of nostalgia for good old days.
The entrances are every 15 minutes and each group from July 1st will be of maximum 15 people allowing (finally!) the use of earphones. Can you imagine talking to 15 people without earphones and with a mask? Loss of voice guaranteed!
GOOD NEWS: The route is not mandatory and there are no limits on the number of people that can access the Sistine Chapel or Raphael’s Rooms at any given time ( that means that there’s the possibility of some crowds). Museums Galleries are not too warm, and you have the oppurtunity to stop in front of the works, not having to fight to earn a place to peek at a sculpture, this kind of things are the silver lining of this moment of crisis.
BAD NEWS: At least for now it is no longer possible to visit St. Peter’s Basilica by accessing it directly from the Sistine Chapel. This means that it cannot be included in the tour, but it does NOT mean that St. Peter’s Basilica is not accessible; quite the contrary.
The basilica is open and, as you already imagine, without a queue. You can take a fully dedicated tour but not as part of a tour of the Museums (unless you are tireless walkers! In that case, we are ready to go!)
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AREA (aka Colosseum/Roman Forum)
It has reopened on June 1st but with a limit of 600 people per day in all three areas.
Luckily, as of today, it’s going up to 5,000.
Let’s repeat one more time: we need the reservation! I can’t buy the ticket on the spot!
The visiting arrangements were initially very complicated, at least at the Colosseum. It was not clear how many minutes before the reservation time you had to arrive (5? 10? 15?) and once inside you had to follow a tour leader in predetermined areas. There was no possibility to choose what to see or to stay more than 40/45 minutes inside the amphitheater. It seems that now it will no longer be so and that we will be free to choose the route of the visit.
GOOD THINGS: The spaces, the silence. The real beauty available to only a few people a day. That’s always a good thing! The shade, finally, will be enough for everyone.
1 – You cannot visit the Forum without a reservation for the Colosseum.
At the moment this limitation still stands.
2 -For those visiting the area without a guide they can download an app that at first was very difficult to find and download on site, in addition to that the staff was not able to help but it will have been certainly because they were at the beginning. We are sure that the situation has now improved. At least we hope!
3 – Children and thermal scan: let’s say that measuring the temperature for those who are short and or very young is not easy and it really slows down the entrance to the areas. Hopefully this too will be solved.
4 – The ticket is only electronic. Good you’ll say! Good…uhm let’s say more or less.
The scanners sometime fail to read, so having a printed copy will not hurt.
HOW DO YOU VISIT THE OTHER SITES?
Bravo! Good question, it means that you are explorers who want to know more!
Let’s continue with one of our favourite museums: THE BORGHESE GALLERY
After all, Cardinal Scipione’s Gallery had always been an oasis of peace even in the high season with its limit of 300 visitors every 2 hours.
Now it goes down to 75 people for each entry (!!!). 225 less than normal. We dare to say that this is an essential moment to go and that if you do not book your ticket now you are reckless.
What about guided tours? With our great sadness they are not possible. No chance to talk to you about Caravaggio’s paintings, Bernini’s sculptural groups (ah, how much we miss David!) or Raphael’s wonderful deposition but we continue to hope to start again soon.
The same goes for VILLA FARNESINA: to see Galatea you need a reservation and to have your guide with you…A virtual tour of preparation is the only thing we can offer you for now! J
Now let’s talk about how to visit the various COMMUNAL MUSEUMS i.e. Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis, Fori Imperiali, Museo delle Mura etc, etc… For the complete list click here
Long story short. Guess what? You have to book! The easiest way is to call 060608 and do it by phone. We don’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly, but if you are also looking for a tour, we will take care of it. Yes, because tours are allowed in these Museums in groups of up to 10 people. You know the view from the Capitoline Museums? Well… Here it is.
Don’t tell us you didn’t immediately feel like making a reservation! We don’t believe it!
CITY CENTRE WALKING TOURS and CHURCHES?
Greenlight almost everywhere in mind that groups must not exceed certain numbers (10/15) and that the mask is needed everywhere! The Pantheon allows us to enter with 11 people and allows a maximum of 80 people at a time inside (another GEM). Don’t worry! We walk on a fixed path that allows the tour and the visit of all the tombs including our beloved Raphael.
At the moment, all the churches are open only for masses with the few exceptions of St. Augustine which also allows the guided tour (Caravaggio, here we come!) followed by St. Chrysogonus and St. Cecilia in Trastevere.
Do you already feel the taste of a tour in Trastevere at sunset and then pizza and supplì? J
If you still feel the need for Caravaggio and the Borghese was not enough for you, with 4 people at a time we can go and steal with our eyes everything we can for 70 minutes at the Doria Pamphilj Gallery!
Also the Baths of Caracalla allow us to visit (up to 9 people) together with Castel Sant’Angelo (up to 12 people). Have we already informed you that (we hear you in chorus) we need the reservation?
If you are looking for the coolness of the catacombs, the only ones that currently accept visitors are those of Pietro and Marcellino on Via Casilina next to Elena’s Mausoleum. The perfect tour to combine with a visit to the street art of Torpignattara. ***UPDATE*** From July 15th, Catacombs of Domitilla will open again. Here you find the info for bookings!
If, on the other hand, the heat does not frighten you and you feel like cycling, the Appia Antica Park has partially reopened its doors to visitors and is… Free until September 13th but, there is more. We know you won’t believe it at this point but…no reservation required!
The Villa dei Quintili and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella are waiting for you and if you want to come with us the group will be 14 people.
WHAT IF WE WANT SOMETHING OUT-OF-TOWN?
Feel like something like…the seaside? A trip to Ostia? No problem to combine a visit to the excavations of Ostia Antica that does not require a reservation (but it’s better to do it anyway) and accepts very large groups up to 25 (but we always prefer not to exceed 15).
Have you never seen the fountains of Villa d’Este and you have no idea what the Canopus of the Emperor Hadrian is inside his over the top Villa? We will be happy to take you to discover the wonders of Tivoli with a group of maximum 14 people.
For now this is all we know.
We will continue to update this post hoping to extend the list again and again.
For everything else: write us, chat us, call us but don’t forget your mask!