Did I mention that the line to get in to see the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel is 2 1/2 hours long? That’s if you don’t get a reservation online or go through one of the tour companies. So, let’s say you don’t do either of those. You just show up thinking you’ll see the Vatican Museums that day. Well, this is what happens:
- You get in line.
- People selling tickets to skip the line or join tour groups move up and down the line, picking tourists off like little feeder fish working in vain in a tank overrun with sea mold.
- Those people who bought tickets online or from these scalpers move to the entrance and are given preference for entry ahead of people waiting in the big, long line.
- Even when there are no tour groups or people with online reservations, when there’s nobody at the entrance ticket booths, the general line, the one you’re in, will sit there. They let in about 40 people from that line into the booths only when there are no other priority groups, which happens about once every 10 minutes.
So the scalpers buy up a lot of online reservations, making it difficult for regular people to get them, and then turn around and scalp those online reservations to the regular people for twice the entrance fee (which, the regular people are still responsible for paying the entrance fee once they get inside). So you either wait 2 1/2 hours and pay 16 euros to get in or you pay close to 50 euros to skip the line and get in.
Outside of Italy, no other museum I’ve ever been to (other than Paris’s Museo d’Orsay) has ever had a line that I’ve had to stand in to get into. None. Not in New York City, London, Germany, anywhere. So this is the conspiracy theory: the Vatican has a direct hand in this. They artificially create the line, and then through subsidiaries like Dark Rome, Context, and 7-Star tour groups, the Vatican pulls down a little extra revenue from the tourists. In Florence the Uffizi and the Accademia are running the same scam. And I’m positive the Vatican is behind that, too.