At Europe Through the Back Door, we are lucky to have a team of hoteliers, researchers, and local guides abroad who can give us up-to-date information about the effect that international events can have on European sights. In the case of the passing of the Pope last week, travelers should expect long lines or closures at some of Rome's famous attractions. Here is a compiled list of comments from some of our European-based contacts:
- I foresee no closures of city or state-owned monuments (such as the Uffizi or Accademia). However, I foresee major closures of churches, including the Duomo.
- The Sistine Chapel is currently open to visitors and will remain so until Thursday, April 7 when it will close for conclave preparations (about 19 days) until after the election of the new pope. The Vatican museums will remain open. But — this papal election will be the first ever where the voting Cardinals will not be confined to the Sistine Chapel but will be allowed to move freely throughout the Vatican City while still remaining cloistered from the public. So I don't know if that means that the museums will remain entirely open, or if parts of them will close.
- St Peter's Basilica is closed to visitors — only mourners (who will wait in a four-hour-long line) can go in to see John Paul II lying in state. The funeral is Friday.
The city of Rome is completely under control and security is not an issue. Buses are packed — the Metro less so. Other sights like Trevi fountain, Colosseum are business as usual if not a little slower. Vatican City is packed with mourners but the Vatican Museums are very quiet and have few visitors.
Here is information regarding how a new Pope gets elected.
Further information about the funeral can be found here.