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This new tour might be the only way to get photos of the Vatican without 25,000 strangers in your Instagram photos.
TripAdvisor just announced a new tour called Waking Up the Vatican: VIP Small-Group Tour Before the Museums Open that lets travelers see the Vatican at sunrise. For $520, you will get advance entry to the Vatican museums by entering a full hour before any other VIP or early-access tour at 6am. According to the tour description, the groups will follow along as the clavigero, or key keeper, unlocks doors, turns on lights and leads visitors through the Vatican’s empty hallways.
Best of all, you will be joined by no more than 19 other guests.
As you walk through the Sistine Chapel, your guide will talk you through some of the highlights and history behind the room. The chapel is usually a quiet zone where talking is discouraged, so this is a rare occasion for a history lesson. Your tour will finish with breakfast in the Pinecone Courtyard, where you can watch the other guests file into the museums.
The Waking Up the Vatican tour comes on the heels of a proposal to limit the number of visitors permitted into the museums every day. According to The Guardian, the overcrowding has become so severe, tour guides have seen multiple guests faint on a daily basis. A number of tour guides anonymously told The Guardian that peak summer season is also the most dangerous time to visit, as both temperatures and visitor numbers are at their highest.
This isn’t the first time TripAdvisor has tried to make tours of the Vatican feel a bit more exclusive. Earlier this year, the travel company’s Skip the Line fast-track pass to the Vatican museums, St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel was ranked the most popular experience for 2017 by travelers from around the world.
Sure, it’s a hefty price to pay for an hour-and-a-half-long tour. But for some travelers, being able to say you were one of the first of the day to see the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s “Pietà” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness” is close to priceless. Of course, you’ll want to put that invaluable experience on the right card. Be sure to use your Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Citi Premier Card to earn bonus points for the travel charges.
Featured photo by Yeo Khee via Unsplash.
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