While you can visit most tourist attractions and museums in Italy without a reservation, there are a few that you will want to book in advance to avoid long waits and a few where reservations are mandatory. These are the top sites and museums that you should buy tickets ahead for and where to buy them.
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If you want to see DaVinci's famous masterpiece, the Last Supper, in Santa Maria della Grazie church in Milan, you'll need to book two to three months ahead. To help preserve the painting, a limited number of visitors are allowed to enter at a time. Last Supper tickets or guided tours can be booked through Viator in US dollars.
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The Uffizi is one of the most important museums for Italian art, especially the art of the Renaissance. It's one of Florence's most visited attractions and visitors without ticket reservations can spend a long time in line. Buy Uffizi Gallery tickets from Viator.
Also in Florence, the Accademia Gallery (that houses the statue of David) should be booked in advance, especially in summer. Accademia Tickets can also be purchased through Viator. Another Florence site that sees long lines is the Medici Chapel.
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Rome's ancient Colosseum is one of the most visited sites in Rome and ticket lines can be very long. There are several ways to avoid the ticket line; see our tips for buying Rome Colosseum Tickets or book a half-day ancient Rome walking tour that includes a visit to the Colosseum. If you're looking to upgrade your tour, so you can see the lower and upper sections of the Colosseum, you can book that as well.
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The Vatican Museums, in Vatican City outside Rome, are a top attraction for visitors to Rome and Vatican City and entrance lines can be very long. The vast complex is the largest museum complex in the world and includes the famous Sistine Chapel. By buying tickets in advance or booking a tour you can skip the ticket line and get in quickly. Here's how to book tickets and tours for the Vatican Museums or buy advance tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Rome's Borghese Museum is housed in the gorgeous Villa Borghese mansion in the Borghese Gardens. It houses masterful marble sculptures by Bernini, among other treasures. To visit the museum, reservations are mandatory. You can buy Borghese Gallery tickets through Viator.
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Visitors to the Doge's Palace in Venice can see more by booking the Secret Itineraries Tour, Itinerari Segreti, that includes parts of the palace that are off limits during the regular tour. On the tour, you'll enter secret passageways, prisons, and the Bridge of Sighs. The Secret Itineraries Tour is available only with a reservation. There are currently 3 English language tours a day.
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Siena Cathedral Gate of Heaven Tours
The Gate of Heaven, a series of rooms in the "heavens" of the cathedral of Siena, can be visited on a guided tour by reservation only. Most tours are in Italian but an English language Secret Itineraries of the Siena Cathedral Tour (offered only certain days and times) can be booked through Select Italy.
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Giotto Frescoes in Padua
Reservations (at least 24 hours in advance) are mandatory to view the stunning, early 14th century frescoes by Giotto in Padua's Scrovegni Chapel. Only 25 people are allowed for each entrance and they can remain inside the chapel for 15 minutes. Visitors need to pick up their tickets in advance of their viewing time in order to be at the entrance 5 minutes ahead. After waiting in the air-conditioned waiting room, the visitors are all admitted together so that the doors open only once for each entrance (to keep the interior climate stable). See the Scrovegni Chapel website for ticket information, hours, and prices.
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Reservations to see Vera Croce, True Cross, by Piero della Francesca are mandatory and can be purchased over the internet for a fee or when you arrive at the church. The frescoes are housed in the Cappella Bacci in Arezzo's San Francesco Church. Only 25 visitors are allowed in at a time and the visit lasts 30 minutes. Arezzo is in eastern Tuscany and can be reached by train. You'll find San Francesco Church in the center of Arezzo.
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Palazzo Ducale in Mantova
Mantova's Palazzo Ducale was home to the Gonzaga family from the early 14th through early 18th centuries. It's a huge complex of palaces and basilicas that now has over 500 rooms including the fascinating Hall of Mirrors, Apartment of Paradise, a Zodiac Room, and the famous Camera degli Sposi with its majestic painted dome. Reservations are mandatory from November through March and are recommended for visiting the Camera degli Sposi as a limited number of visitors are admitted.
For those living in the US, an easy and convenient way to buy tickets ahead of time is though Viator. They offer tickets and reservations for many of Italy's top museums and tourist attractions.