I learned about Scavi Tours in one of my virtual brainstorming sessions with a fellow wanderlust friend. She’s travelling to Europe in October and I am planning to go in December so we were kind of sharing notes 🙂
She was so keen on getting on that tour and she told me it’s in her not-to-miss list. Not having done an in-depth research at that time, I noted it in my itinerary for further research.
Scavi Tour is a visit to what is said to be the Tomb of St. Peter and the Necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica. Visitors are limited to about 250 per day which makes it one of the hottest tours in Rome/Vatican. Being in Rome at Christmas time, I found out I only had 1 chance to make it to this tour, and that is on December 22. They are closed for the Christmas holidays. Both factors sounded the alarm siren in my head and so I wrote to the Reservations Office on Sept 8, more than 3 months prior to the visit date 🙂
Being a tourist and a Catholic at that, I could not pass up this chance to be a pilgrim for a day.
Reserving a ticket was easy and the procedure is clearly outlined in their website. To request tickets, you have to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Number of participants
- Names of participants
- Language of tour preferred
- Possible dates of visit (time will be determined by Scavi Tours)
- E-mail address, or fax number, or a complete postal address.
I indicated in my email that I would like an afternoon schedule since I will be en route from Florence in the morning. I received a reply after 2 days granting my request and had me scheduled on the last tour of the day. The email also contained payment log-in details. After several attempts paying with my (Philippine-issued) credit card I was unsuccessful and could not confirm the reservation. My friend did not encounter the same issue so she advised me to email Scavi Tours. I explained my predicament and asked for alternative payment methods, else I might lose the reservation. Within 30 minutes, Scavi Tours replied and they confirmed my reservation even without prepayment 🙂 I was told to print that email and show it to the Swiss Guards for entry to the Scavi Tours Offfice. I will just purchase my tickets prior to the tour. Sweet!
6 days later, I received an email instruction from Scavi Tours to confirm my reservation. That got me confused since I thought I was OK. I immediately responded to inform them that my reservation was confirmed and that I was allowed to purchase the tickets on the day of the tour. Scavi Tours promptly confirmed that my reservation is confirmed. They just fixed one of their computers and are responding to emails in that computer that’s why they responded on my email twice.
Whew! Big, big sigh of relief…
I cannot comment on the tour yet. I will have to do that after 3 months, In’shallah… But…
I wanted to write about my pleasant experiences with Vatican, contrary to comments I read in forums and blogs. I usually read complaints on Vatican’s inefficiency in handling queries and reservations, even proclaiming it as a miracle when Vatican responds at all. However, I dealt with two different Vatican offices (for Christmas Eve Mass Reservation and this Scavi Tours) and it never was the case. They have been timely in their responses and in one instance they went out of their way to call me overseas to verify information.
My friend did not have a negative customer service experience too. They have been timely in responding and have been helpful to her as well. I hope it is not just coincidence.
I guess Vatican has undergone a complete customer service system overhaul. And they must. It is not enough that they bank on the historical, archaeological and religious treasures they have to encourage more visitors to Vatican. It would be more pleasant to have good memories of Vatican all throughout from planning through the conclusion of your visit.
Good start… And I commend Vatican for that.
At this point, I am being carried away by the excitement. I am getting ready to get a visa very soon. Please wish me una buona fortuna!
I promise you certainly will hear about it…
Scavi Tours Contact Information
Fabbrica di San Pietro
Tel.: + 39 06 69 885 318 Fax: + 39 06 69 873 017
Monday – Friday: 9:00 – 18:00
Saturday: 9:00 – 17:00
The last visit is at 3:30 p.m. (4:15p.m. from April through September).
Closed: Sundays and Vatican Holydays
For more information about Scavi Tours, please visit this link: Scavi Tours Info
~ Michael LeBoeuf