The tour was AMAZING! I just wrote a fantastic review with excellent tips, but the site logged me out. :-( Here's a shortened version: The Dark Rome tour guide was excellent, the tour was perfect, plan to spend at least the whole day (we spent 2 and barely started), add-on the elevator (lift) to visit the top of St. Peter's dome (still some climbing, but if you pace yourself it is so worth it). Buy and write postcards before you go so you can get stamps at the dome shop run by the nuns (some unique gift items there as well) then mail them from the Vatican mail. If you want night pictures, get inside the gate before dark, as St. Peter's square actually closes to the public around 11 or so. Dino and Tony's restaurant down the block is great food and great fun (adventure dining with no menu :-) . Beware of the souvenir stands outside the Vatican; the booths, the shops inside the Vatican, and the shops on the street outside St. Peter's gate carry the same items, but Mariana gift shop had the best prices (rosary = 12 for 10 euros; same exact rosary inside = 15 euros, same exact rosary at booth by mueum entrance = 10 euros). I included pics of our favorite shop. We attended Italian mass in the basilica, and if you check the schedule, there are masses throughout the day (not at the Pope's alter, but it's still mass at St. Peter's). Skip the line was worth the price of the tour (I included pics of PART of the line!).
This was totally worth it, but there are a few things you should be aware of beforehand:
1) It was a little difficult to find the start and where to exchange your voucher for tickets. Be patient, just go to the main stop and exchange your voucher right on the bus.
2) When they say the bus stops running at 6pm, they mean "at 6pm, the bus stops and you have to get off wherever you are". At 5:30, we left an organ recital at the Berliner Dom so we could catch the bus and ride back to our hotel (right by one of the stops). We waited about 15 minutes at the not-so clearly marked stop, and then in the middle of who-knows-where-we-are, the driver stopped, got off the bus, and said the trip was over.
Also, check community events. We purchased the 2 day ticket, but the first day there were many, many route changes and closures because President Obama was visiting; we were not able to figure out where to catch the bus, so we basically forfeited our entire first day ticket. Not the company's fault, but I wish before we started they had told us and given the option of waiting until the following day to activate our tickets. The route was great, and we would have benefitted from being able to use the full two days (especially since it shut down so early). Worth it, but could have been better.
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