Juan Vicente BooJuan Vicente Boo

Vatican correspondent

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The Vatican Museums are about to close the month of July with a “record” of seventy thousand visitors, exceeding sixty-six thousand in June, the first month of reopening after confinement. On Friday and Saturday of last week, the “maximum” of four thousand visitors established for this phase of the pandemic was touched.

As the Museums are immense and the entrance is made in groups of one hundred people every fifteen minutes, the feeling is still a “private visit” compared to the crowded 24,000 daily visitors that were recorded before the coronavirus.

While the pandemic lasts, admission requires prior personal and nominal reservation on the web www.museivaticani.va, arrive with a mask and “approve” the temperature control on the thermo scanners.

For the Vatican Museums, the most positive surprise is that more than a third of the visitors are young people aged between 15 and 26 years. The second novelty, also very pleasant, has been to see the excitement of the Romans, who usually did not visit the Museums because they considered them “crowded with tourists”, but which they now had “exclusively” at their disposal, especially in June.

High maintenance costs

In a way, the Vatican Museums have become much more ‘endearing’ as guides can better cater to small groups, made up mostly of people who truly love art and not tourists. That “family” climate It makes up for the hassle of wearing a mask and keeping your distance.

Compared to the “torment” of the three months of absolute closure, the first two of very limited opening have been at least an appetizer of the “ecstasy” that will only come when expenses are covered in some Museums with seven hundred employees and huge maintenance costs.

According to estimates from the economic newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore”, the economic balance can be reached from eight to ten thousand daily visitors, as long as the evolution of the pandemic allows it.

At the moment, the daily limit is four thousand, which is only reached on Fridays and Saturdays, while the first four days of the week the number of visitors ranges around two thousand five hundred. The difference is due to the fact that the opening hours are “stretched” until 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and those who book in advance can end the visit “with an aperitif served in the fascinating setting of the Cortile della Pigna wrapped in the soft light of the sunset ».

Although in Rome there is a lot of talk about «Ferragosto» -on August 15-, almost associated with the heat of hell, the reality is that during that month it is already cooler than in July. The best time to visit the Vatican Museums “alone” is now in the summer because, if all goes well, German tourists will invade the city again in October.

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