One unique attraction of Rome is the existence of an independent country within its borders. Yes, you read right. Probably the most famous example of a country within a city (and the only one at that), Vatican City is also the smallest country in the world at approximately 44 hectares with a population of 1,000. Though small, Vatican City is not something you should miss, and was one of the few attractions we parted with our money to see.
Immerse yourself in the massive art collection at the Vatican Museums.
We woke up early to head down to Vatican City but the queue to enter had already snaked round the Vatican City walls (we were apparently not early enough, I guess). But not to worry, the queue moved fast and before long, we made our way through the city gates. From then on, it was quite a blur as we moved through the labyrinth of corridors that ran through the Vatican Museums and tried our best to absorb the massive art collection on display.
Once “warmed up”, we followed the crowds to the next work of art – the famous frescoes of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. If you would like more time to appreciate Michelangelo’s masterpiece, I would suggest heading to Vatican City during the off-peak season (if there is such a thing in the first place). It was hard to break away from the crowds without blocking the flow of human traffic or having people walk into you.
St. Peter’s Basilica provided a bit of respite from the crowds. Over there, we managed to slow our pace down, take a rest on the pews and appreciate the intricate carvings in and around the massive hall.
The massive hall of St. Peter’s Basilica…
And the lavishly decorated interior.
From the Basilica, we stepped out into St. Peter’s Square, the famous location where thousands of pilgrims gather on various occasions to hear the Pope speak from the balcony. This was also the best spot to admire the impressive dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The impressive dome of St. Peter’s Basilica from St. Peter’s Square.
St. Peter’s Square is also open to the general Roman public and not limited to Vatican City tourists. So, when we were done, we simply walked off the square and crossed the “border” back into the city of Rome.
Much more to Italy than just Rome
Rome may be the capital of Italy, but Italy is definitely not just about Rome. By all means, start your trip in Rome. But do make time to explore other Italian cities such as Milan, Florence, Venice and Pisa. Each of these cities give off a totally different vibe and exude their own character.
Join me as I continue my Italy adventure in the next article!