THE VATICAN'S DARK SECRET

If you're thinking that I'm going to share some kind of "Angels and Deamons-esque" secrets, I can stop you right here....but then again, you may actually want to read on considering that what I am about to share is pretty crypt-ic (you'll get that pun at the end).

As you may know, the Vatican city is a walled enclave within the city of Rome where the pope makes his official residence. It is actually the smallest city in the world by area and population. Many people may think of the Vatican as the basilica itself, but the basilica is just one part of this major, yet tiny, religious hub. Many travelers, religious and not, come to marvel at the architecture, artwork, and history of this city.

If you have been to the Vatican, you know that the line to get into the basilica and the museum rivals the length of a football field...maybe even more on a hot summer day. The important thing to note when visiting is that the museum that leads to the famous Sistine Chapel sells "skip the line" tickets. But what about St. Peter's Basilica? Entry for this is strictly first come first serve....

Unless, its not...

There is a little known secret about getting an up close and personal view of the Basilica, all while skipping the line, exploring the necropolis underneath the church (read: lots of tombs), and getting an unbelievable glimpse at the actual bones of St. Peter that are housed directly under the pulpit (now do you get the pun?). The tour ends by climbing up a spiral staircase and directly into the center of the basilica without ever seeing as much as a glimpse of a line. Convinced yet? Well, honestly, no descriptions can really do this experience justice.

It's called the Scavi tour.

So it may not be that much of a secret because it requires reservation nearly 6 months in advance. Only 10 tours of 12 people per day are conducted in English, leaving this intimate approach to the holy city as one of the hottest tickets in town. This tour is only an hour long, making it a perfect add on to your Rome jaunt. Coming in at a the small price tag of 16 Euro, this tour offers some serious bang for it's buck.

So there it is...the secret's out.

Important Items to Note:

Due to being underground, the tour is conducted in small and humid quarters, so if you are extremely claustrophobic, I wouldn't suggest it. Another thing to be aware of is that this tour has a dress code: pants for men, covered knees for women, and covered shoulders for all. Although, this is pretty standard for all the churches in the area, which is why I always carry a pashmina in my bag for unexpected pop-ins.