Leading digits


If you want to go to the Vatican Museums (home of, among other things, the Sistine Chapel) you can buy your tickets in advance online. During the checkout process they list the number of Euros you owe, but they also include a few leading zeros. Having a computer that allows room for all the digits you might need is a good thing, as anyone who remembers the whole Y2K thing realizes. So kudos to Vatican City for making sure that no transaction will be too large for the checkout system to manage. But seriously, just how much money did they expect people to spend in those online transactions???


3 Responses to “Leading digits”

  1. colintgraham Says:

    I can understand what your are saying, if 1 person costs 62 Euro then there do seem to be an unnecessary number of zeros.

    However, if you have a party of say, 120 South Koreans paying in their own currency (at 62 Euro per person) then the cost would be about 11,500,000 Won… so yes it is sensible, because not everyone comes from Europe or North American where currencies are differently managed and you may be bringing a large group of people, so it’s not as silly as it seems.

  2. Ξ Says:


    (Sorry for the late reply — we’ve been out of the country visiting, among other places, the Vatican itself!)

    The thing that doesn’t make sense is that, regardless of where you are booking from, the charge is in Euros; in this case the 62 Euros was for four of us, and the conversion from Euros to US dollars was done on the credit card end. So this digits seem like they would only apply to Euros and not to very different currencies.

    But I do think that your point about currencies might lie in the background of this. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time I posted this, but Vatican City was using Lira until about ten years ago, and at the time of conversion one euro was worth 2000 lira. Plus, it turns out (we discovered while traveling) that tour guides who book tours of the Vatican Museums have to pay 10,000 Euros up front, and then the Vatican deducts the tickets from that. So that’s 20,000,000 lira right there. The Vatican has apparently only been using a computer system for the past several years, so it post-dates the switch to Euros, but the lira mind-set and wanting lots of flexibility might be what’s behind the large number of digits.

  3. Sierpinski hiding in the Sistine Chapel « 360 Says:

    […] was also the day we had tickets to the Vatican Museum (tickets that cost significantly less than 10 Billion Euros, I’m happy to say), so sore foot or not we forged […]

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