Travelling to the world’s smallest independent state can be little confused as just travelling within Italy. Vatican city earlier known as the papal state is a tiny walled enclave on the western side of the Tiber River in Rome. The Italian name of the city state is Stato della Città del Vaticano, which is pronounced STAH|toh DEL|la chee|TAH del vah|tee|KAH|noh, although it’s often shortened to simply Il Vaticano. The city- state is roughly 110 acres and however small the state maybe the state houses some of the most popular and significant attractions in the entire Italian peninsula. As savvy a Traveller you are, the secret to that old fashioned fully immersive Roman experience is to let the Romans to help you in their city. The Romans sometimes act like they still rule the world, no matter how long ago Caesar had his reign end; but thankfully they are also very proud citizens who love showing their city and make sure you love your stay in their city.
Sights in the Vatican
The centerpiece of Vatican City is St. Peter’s Basilica and the enormous piazza in front of the church, and blissfully both of these sights are free to visit. The Vatican Museums alone could take weeks of exploration, so making sure the important pieces are pointed out to you can be the difference between a pleasant visit and museum boredom. Of course, if you’re familiar with some of what’s in the Vatican’s collection and you want to spend more time in the museums, then a longer stay in Rome and a few days spent wandering through the galleries isn’t a bad option, either.
The Vatican Gardens are open to visitors, but only with a guided tour through the Vatican tours office. These tours leave from the Vatican Museums, so inquire there about departure times. To get more information on your own, there’s a tourist information office in St. Peter’s Square, just to the left of the Basilica. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 am until 7:30pm.
Seeing the Pope
Seeing the Pope – If you’re interested in seeing the Pope, check the news to make sure he’s in town and go to Vatican City on Sunday or Wednesday. You can try your luck, especially in the summer, by showing up and seeing if there’s a crowd gathering in St. Peter’s Square (if there’s a stage set up, you know you’re in luck). If you get there before his entrance, you might even get to see him zip through the crowd in the famous Popemobile. To get inside the gated area, you’ll need a ticket – but you can hang around outside it and still see the Pope (from that distance he’s small, but there are jumbo screens so you’ll get to see his face). For the more devout, you can arrange for something more personal (i.e., groups of hundreds instead of thousands) by calling 06-6988-4631. That’s also the number to call to just find out the specifics of the Pope’s schedule.