The average Roman is somewhat unfriendly, walking the streets or Rome you will bump into lots of them scurring along, going about their business, oblivious to the people around, endlessly talking to their cellphones.
We are also quite suspicious which comes from living in a big city. We know this is a charming and quaint city, but for everything there’s a price to pay and for us is to be confronted with a wide assortment of dodgy people which tend to be in your face (that’s another of our pet hates) and won’t take no for an answer.
Usually people like that target outoftowners, problem is with the current crisis they can be really pushy. The streets around the Colosseum and the Vatican are crawled with people which are after a fast buck. These days it’s impossible to walk the distance from the subway stop to the Vatican Museums entrance without being approached by one of those people trying to sell virtually everything from postcards to any kind of stuff . The catch up line is usually: ‘Do you speak English?’ or ‘Skip the line to the Museums!’, too bad most of the times there’s no line at all.
Now the best way to skip the line is to book through the Vatican website, you are given a time slot to show up and that’s about it. This is also the cheapest way without any mark-up.
So those frightening tales about waiting in line for hours are a thing of the past. A few years ago it was impossible to book the tickets online so the whole world would go to the Museums in the morning, last entrance used to 1pm. Hence long line-ups.
At present the Museums are open til 6pm (last admission though is at 4 pm)six days a week and visitors distribute through the whole day so if you really wish to find a humongous line like the good old days your only chance is to go there on the last Sunday of the month when the Museums are open only from 9Pm until 12Pm and free of charge, or during some festivities such as the Christmas or the Easter week. In that case there’s still people who arrive around 7Am and wait for a couple of hours in order to be the first to go in.
So my advice would be to book any ticket (be the Colosseum or the Vatican) online to avoid the scalpers and save time to boot. The museums are usually busier during the weekend, so if you are in the position to choose the day of your visit Tuesdays and Thursdays are the less busy days of the week.
Around the Colosseum the environment is even more hostile: people dress as Roman centurions who may charge you from 5 to 20 Euros for a picture, young students (I always wonder when do they actually study since they are out on the streets all the time) offering free tours: ‘Buy now pay later’ being their favourite catch-up line (whatever that means) and knockoffs galore.
As for the Vatican you can save yourself a lot of trouble by simply booking your tickets to the Colosseum in advance. It’s only an extra 1,50 euro per ticket. Keep in mind we don’t believe in plastic money much around here, so make sure you always travel with a little cash. The Colosseum ticket office accepts some major credit cards but not all.
A lot of websites also advertise their tours with VIP entrance to the Vatican or to the Colosseum underground areas(hypogeum): but beware since in most cases it is not a real VIP entrance and you are going to pay more for something you could simply reserve on your own !