On Fridays Through Fall, See the Vatican Under the Stars

Raphael rooms of Vatican museums

If you want to avoid the usual Sistine Chapel crowds, here's one way to do it: Go to the Vatican at night.

For the third year in a row, the Vatican museums are having their "extraordinary opening" from 7pm-11pm. Last year, more than 30,000 people took advantage. And whether your day is completely booked or you'd simply like to see the Sistine Chapel and Laocoön in a bit of a more serene atmosphere, now's your chance.

The museums will be open on Friday nights from now until July 15, and then again from Sep. 2 until Oct. 28. Last admission is at 9:30pm.

The areas open in the museums are the Egyptian museum, Pio-Clementine, Galleries of Tapestries, Candelabra, and Maps, Raphael Rooms, Borgia Apartment, Collection of Modern Religious Art, and, of course, the Sistine Chapel. (There's no guarantee, and it's in fact unlikely, that other areas, like the Pinacoteca, will be open).

Tickets must be booked in advance, so the full-price ticket is €19 (includes the €4 reservation fee), or €12 reduced (students, bring your I.D.s!). Click here to book.

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One Night, 47 Concerts: November’s Musei in Musica

On Saturday, November 20, Rome — a city not particularly known for its live music scene — will host free concerts in no fewer than 47 museums and institutes city-wide. Don't miss it!

Some top choices:

Milonga (the Latin American predecessor to tango), played by the Orchestra Buenos Aires Cafè Quintet. They're livening up the Galleria Alberto Sordi (yes, that big neoclassical shopping gallery) at 11pm.

At the edgy MACRO Testaccio, folk music: Greek at 8pm, Estonian at 9pm, Norwegian at 10pm, and Italian at 11pm.

The Quartetto del Teatro dell'Opera, performing Puccini and Delibes, at the Corte di Cassazione at Piazza Cavour. The concerts are at 8m, 9pm and 10pm, and this one's expected to be so popular, reservation is obligatory (call 060608).

Hebrew music at the Jewish Synagogue, including "liturgical Hebrew music of an Italian rhythm" at 10:30pm.

For those looking for sounds of the American South, the New Orleans Jazz Quintet plays at the Accademia Belgica at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

There will be an Egyptian dance performance at the Museo dell'Ara Pacis at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

At the Castel Sant'Angelo, Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" by the renowned Orchestra Arcus Caelestis. (Reserve in advance for the concerts at 8pm, 9:30pm or 11pm by calling 3313946149).

Guitar concerts at the National Museum of Musical Instruments (pretty appropriate, no?), at 8:30pm, 10pm and 11:30pm.

For more information and listings, click here.

Don't forget about all of those other music and museum events going on this fall, too!

 

 

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Late Summer and Fall’s Best Events in Rome

Don't be sad that the summer is ending and, with it, Rome's best summer's events! The autumn brings a new slew, too. I'll be updating this as we go along, so check back for more exciting events.*

September 5. Opening of the Jewish catacombs at Villa Torlonia. Remember to book… now!

Until September 8. Colori dell'Ara Pacis, a light show showing the Ara Pacis as it would have been. Wednesday nights only.

September 1-11. The annual International Festival of Urban Theatre puts on performances all over Rome, outdoors and indoors, including events for children.

September 3-October 29. The Vatican museums open at night.

September 17-20. The Colosseum will be set on fire (virtually) in an art show by Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz. 8:30pm-2am Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

September 19-20. La Notte di Raffaello. The newly-restored Palazzo Barberini opens Sunday night and Monday, offering free guided tours to the public.

September 21-December 2. RomaEuropa Festival. The annual festival, now in its 25th year, boasts a series of music, dance and theater performances. Highlights this year include a production of "Orpheus" with hip-hop music and music by Monteverdi and Philip Glass, the British rock group "The Irrepressibles," and Laurie Anderson's "Delusion," a multimedia series of mystery plays that include violin, puppetry, and visuals.

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Visit the Colosseum and Baths of Caracalla at Night

Colosseum at night
Celebrate your Saturday night a little differently: From August 21, take a guided evening tour of the Colosseum (until October 2) or Baths of Caracalla (until October 23).

The option is especially exciting for the Colosseum, since the tours will include the subterranean area underneath the arena — a section that has never been opened to the public before. Under the stars (and, okay, installed lighting system), explore where the gladiators and animals would have waited for their turn in the arena. Bummer! I realized on a second reading that the website was a little unclear in saying that the subterranean area would be included: Did this mean you'd actually go into the subterranean area or that it would just be talked about? I gave them a follow-up call and it turns out the area is (still!) not open, so it'll be discussed only.

But I stand by the fact that it'll be a different, and uncrowded, way to see the Colosseum.

Tours of both the Colosseum and Baths of Caracalla, led by archaeologists, will be offered in English and Italian from 9pm to midnight each Saturday. The Colosseum costs €15 (including entrance), or €12 reduced; the Baths cost €10, or €8 reduced. To book, call +39 0639967700. For more information (in Italian), click here.

Addendum: For more information on how exactly to book (and do do so in advance), see my response to Jessica's comment, below.

Update, 9/13: Tickets for Colosseum entrances at night are now completely full. However, some times for the Baths of Caracalla remain free. English guided tours are at 10pm only.

You might also like:

Rome's Best Summer Events: Go Before They End

This Fall, See the Sistine Chapel at Night

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