We were approached by a "sales-rep" for Maya Tours when we got off at the St Peter's Basillica stop on the 110 Open bus tour of Rome. He convinced us that we would be able to skip the queues to enter the Basilica and Vatican Museum and since we saw the lines to the Basillica along the way and since it was quite hot, we accepted. We then had to follow him to the Maya Tours office which was very far away (about 10 min walking at a fast pace). At the office, we paid our 100 Euros and waited for the tour guide to arrive. The office was cool, had several drink vending machines and toilets that we used in preparation for the tour. We waited about 20 minutes and were greeted by Saverio, our tour guide. He was a nice older gentleman that spoke English with a hint of a charming Italian accent.
He gathered the group outside the office and gave us some very helpful pointers. He explained what would happen when we entered the Museum and told us how to go through the strict security checks and even advised us about the size of the bags we could carry inside and correctly picked out one or two of our fellow tour participant's bags that he said might cause a problem. Beware that if you have to check your bags at the entrance, then picking them up at the end requires a very long walk back to the entrance to the Museum. Saverio mentioned this already before we went in. We had a 5-8 minute walk to the entrance to the Vatican Museum and the lines themselves were not very long, but we had no waiting to do outside except to collect and test our audio receivers.
Saverio did an excellent job in providing us with an abundance of information during the Vatican Museum visit. We didn't feel like spending too long in the Museum, Chapel and Basillica so this tour was ideal. He picked out several key pieces of art and gave us a lot of information about them and was more than willing to answer our daughter's questions throughout the tour. He always had an answer to the questions we asked and was very accommodating.
Before we entered the Sistine Chapel and Basillica, he gave us an in-depth briefing on the paintings and statues which we found very useful. The reason we got the information beforehand was because the Chapel forbade anyone from speaking and had ushers continuously calling for "silence". Before we entered the St. Peter's Basillica, Saverio bid us farewell and collected our audio receivers but not before giving us more information about some of the statues inside the Basillica.
The Vatican Museum, Sistine Capel and St Peter's Basillia are stunning! You HAVE to visit them if you go to Rome. We enjoyed the tour very much and learned quite a bit from it. I recommend getting Saverio if you can since he played a large part in ensuring we had a great experience.
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