Ok, so here’s the story,
We’re on a guided tour, which we thought was the “stay on the bus” type, it wasn’t. I have a kata 3n1 with a couple lenses in it, a belt with a couple of think tank modular bags on it and a dual camera harness system. Just to give you an idea of what I was carrying and what got through security checks at St. Peter’s Square and Basilica (there’s 2 check points, one into the Square itself then another one at the entrance to the Basilica).
So I have my gripped 5D2 + 70-200 2.8 and 7D + 10-22 on the harness. I get through the first check point no probs. As we (tour group) get to the doors of the Basilica, I get waved down and not permitted to enter, the reason? One of 3 guards was pointing at my 5d2. Then pointed to my 7d and said “that one, ok”. He said, check that one (pointing to the 5d2) over there. I looked to where he was pointing but didn’t see any lockers or anything indicating I could store stuff (not that I would have store my gear anyways). So I declined and told my wife and kids to go in and enjoy, I’ll wait.
I stood off to the side and one of the other guards started talking to me asking me where I’m from and stuff all the while translating to the other 2 guards (one of whom was the guy who denied my entry). So he said if you want to go in, pack your gear and don’t take pictures inside. I quickly agreed and shoved my gear into the Kata, the guards looked amazed at how fast I got my gear stowed. With a disgruntled nod, the first guard let me in.
I’m not mad or bitter at this incident, more amazed at how quickly and easily they were able to identify my gear. My harness is set up so that the lens points down. When I’m in lines or walking through crowds I shove the lens into the modular pouches on my belt so that only the camera body is exposed and usually 1/2 concealed under my jacket. Once inside, there are ushers/security everywhere as well. The Vatican’s website indicates that photography is allowed, just not pro equip. I had read that but totally forgot.
If you’re ever in Rome, you have to go to St. Peter’s. It’s really that awesome. If you go into the Basilica, you’ll want to bring a flash. Most of the artwork is mosaic so flash use is allowed unless otherwise posted, like in the prayer only sections or the treasure museum.