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The Tip

How to score a coveted Scavi Tour of the Vatican Necropolis

The colorful Swiss Guards.

Bjorn Christian Torrissen

The colorful Swiss Guards.

ROME — The Scavi Tour is one of the toughest tickets to come by in the Eternal City. Strict protocol makes it difficult to book and you need to do so well in advance. The Vatican Necropolis, or Scavi, located directly beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, contains everything from papal tombs to an ancient Roman street and St. Peter’s mausoleum, so the extra effort is worth it. Here is how to secure your ticket:

1. Once you know your travel dates, contact the Excavations Office directly by e-mail ( or fax 011-39-06-6987-3017. Only those going on the tour make the request, no travel agents. Book at least 90 days in advance; because of limited availability, only 250 people a day go through the Scavi.

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2. Include the number in your party, their exact names, language desired, a range of possible dates (write in full the name of the month, e.g., 15 June 2014 to 18 June 2014), and an e-mail address, fax number, or complete postal address for them to get back to you.

3. If you would like to have your visit led by a seminarian from the North American College, write: “We would like an NAC Guide if it is possible.”

4. The office will let you know whether or not you have a reservation within a month or two. You will be given the exact time and date of the tour and you must pay the 13 euros, or $16.50, per person immediately with a credit card.

5. As with all visits to the Vatican, appropriate clothing is a must. No shorts, short skirts, or dresses above the knees, or shoulders showing. No children under 15 and no photography allowed.

The 90-minute tour meets to the left of St. Peter’s Basilica. Tell the Swiss Guard that you’re there for the Scavi Tour and he’ll let you through.

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