Rome is a particular city, and not just because of the wonders from the Roman Empire that you can visit there: It includes a whole country inside of it! Vatican City is the smallest country in the world in size and population, and it is located as a walled enclave in the middle of the city. Vatican City is a particular state: It’s ruled by the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope, and its functionaries are all part of the Clergy.
There, you will find religious icons like the magnificent Saint Peter’s Basilica, and it has an impressive patrimony in the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, where you will be able to see some of the most famous sculptures and paintings in the whole world.
If you book one of the apartments near Vatican City, you will still have the Romans as neighbours, since this religious independent state is located inside the city of Rome. Your temporary neighbours, besides the locals, will be other tourists like yourself and also Catholics who go visit such an important landmark for them: Vatican City is an important place of pilgrimage.
Nowadays, Vatican City has a population of less than 1.000 people, ruled by the authority of Pope Francis, who was elected as Pope in year 2013. The inhabitants of Vatican City have the nationality granted by jus officii, which means that it is obtained due to working in the service of the Holy See.
Near Vatican City you will find an exclusive shopping area, located in Via Cola di Rienzo. You will find this long street between metro station Ottaviano and the entrance to Saint Peter’s Square. You will be able to shop for clothes, shoes and accessories in brands such as United Colours of Benetton, Nike, Vans, Brandy Melville or Guess. Other shops include Zara Home, full of home décor articles, or KIKO, where you will be able to stock up in make up!
In Vatican City, you will also be able to shop for religious souvenirs so you can bring to your loved ones a memory of this city.
The best means of transportation in Rome… are your own feet! That’s right: Since the underground system in Rome, called the metro, isn’t as extensive as in other European capitals due to the many remains of the ancient Roman Empire, it’s actually faster to walk. Besides, since there is so much to see, you won’t need to walk for long before arriving to the next wonderful thing!
However, Vatican City isn’t right in the city centre. While most of the tourist attractions in Rome are east from the river, the smallest country in the world is located at the west. The closest metro station is Ottaviano, a line that will take you directly to Villa Borghese (Flaminio) or the historic centre (station Spagna). Besides, there is also a train station nearby: Roma S. Pietro.
In order to make a full visit to Vatican City, you will need to spend there almost a whole day – that, if you want to climb up to the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica and also visit the Vatican Museums. The first thing you’ll visit will be Saint Peter’s Square, where you will be able to admire the great columns and the beautiful plaza, one of the biggest in the world (it can host 300.000 people). At the end, you will be able to see the Saint Peter’s Basilica, the papal enclave, a great basilica of the Renaissance and Baroque styles that will leave you open-mouthed. You can go inside and also climb the inside of the dome, but keep in mind that the stairs are very narrow, so we don’t recommend it if you don’t do well in tight spaces. Outside the basilica, you will see the picturesque Swiss Guard, with the vivid colours of their uniform. Your kids will love to take a picture with them!
Of course, during your visit to Vatican City, you can’t miss out on the wonderful Vatican Museums, one of the richest collections in the world. In fact, the Vatican Museums concentrate almost all tourist cultural outings, and they do so for a reason: Besides admiring the Sistine Chapel, you will be able to see masterpieces that were collected by the Popes for centuries and centuries. Its 54 galleries make it one of the biggest museums in the world. You can (and should) buy your tickets online, and we recommend that you go early because there are always big queues outside. They open from Monday to Saturday.
If after visiting Vatican City you’re still in the mood for more tourist attractions, a bit towards the east, next to the river Tiber, you will find Castel Sant’Angelo, a great fortress where you will be able to learn some more about the history of Rome.
If you book one of the apartments near Vatican City, you will have tons of options around to enjoy wonderful meals. For a wonderful lunch or dinner with all the best of Italian cuisine, both the Trattoria Massa and the Osteria delle Commari will leave you happy and satisfied. If you can’t decide between sweet or savoury, the Forno Feliciani will be a life-saver… Because it offers both! For a quicker meal, you can visit the Ristorante dei Musei, where you can also choose more international dishes.
It’s hard to find a reasons why you would get tired of Italian cuisine, but if you want to try something different or change a little bit, you can go to the Mexican restaurant La Cucaracha, which offers yummy dishes despite its not very enticing name (cucaracha is “cockroach” in Spanish).
As you can probably imagine, there are no pubs inside Vatican City. Luckily, the smallest country in the world is located in one of the liveliest cities in Europe! You can walk towards the river and cross it to arrive to the historic centre of the city, where you will find many people outside and a great atmosphere, especially in the summer nights. However, if you want to have a drink in the area you can also do so around Vatican City. South of the Vatican city you will find McQueen, a birreria where you will be able to drink a fresh beer surrounded by locals. North, you will find the Saxophone bar, a nice German pub also popular among the locals, and the Fonclea, a restaurant-pub that offers live music as well. As you can see, it’s possible to have tons of fun around Vatican City!