As part of our first day in Rome, we walked over to Vatican City. It is about a 20 minute stroll to St. Peter's square from our apartment. While there, we decided to see if we could make arrangements to take the Scavi tour (ancient mausoleums two levels below the level of the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica). Because of the fragile nature of the site, the Vatican limits are no more than ten tours of ten people each per day, for a total of 100 people per day (while at the same time thousands tour the Basilica daily). Reservations have to be made before hand. Thus, this is a tour known to very few people. We were able to obtain special permission to enter the Vatican grounds through a staff-only side entrance. We had to undergo scanning by police, before the Swiss Guards, who were very friendly and polite, let us in ( it was interesting to watch them salute each staff member who entered the grounds). It was awesome to be able to walk through this part of Vatican City, where most tourists never go.
And we were successful at securing reservations for the Scavi tour later this month.
One of the Swiss Guards who allowed us to enter the Vatican grounds
Part of the ornate office buildings located near the Scavi office.
More office buildings on the side of Vatican City.
Some more of the office complex within the grounds of the Vatican.