I didn’t know what to expect from this rare behind-the-scenes (or should I say under the scenes) tour of the Vatican Necropolis (known as Scavi), which escorts visitors to the excavations of an ancient Roman cemetery, which was originally constructed next to the circus of Emperor Caligula. Discovered directly below St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1940s, the site was not announced to the public until the early 1960s.
The tour itself is hard to get onto. Most people email the Vatican Scavi office at least 3 months in advance to try to secure a spot on one of the few small group tours that enter the Necropolis each day–total visitors is capped at about 150 per day. I figured I’d email the Vatican and see if anything was available. Sure enough, they emailed me back fairly quickly with the date and time, should we accept (November 19, 11:45 am). That was it. If we wanted to go on the tour, that was our option.
I immediately paid the seemingly steep fee of 13€ for each ticket and patiently waited on my confirmation email, which came just as quickly as the first response (the Scavi office has their crap together).