Touring Rome Italy - Vatican City

What should we visit in Rome's Vatican City and its environs?...

We hope that you are enjoying our series of articles and guest articles on Italian tourist attractions, covering the entire country except for its major cities. In a sense we have left the best for last. We will describe what to see in Italy’s great cities neighborhood by neighborhood. You may not realize it, but Rome is divided into 20 districts. And each and every one of these districts boasts its own sightseeing attractions. If you have time, visit them all. In any case, read these articles to help plan your trip to The Eternal City. You may be in for some real surprises. Roma, Non Basta una Vita (Rome, a Lifetime is not Enough) .

Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. It dates back to the year 319 when the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine built a basilica over what was thought to be the tomb of Saint Peter. This church stood for a millennium until Pope Julius II ordered its replacement in 1506. The new church was finally dedicated in 1626, by that time five of Italy’s greatest architects including Michelangelo died during its construction. In case you didn’t know, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon designed the dome that was only completed after his death. A side chapel to the right of the entrance is home to his sculpture, Pietà. The entryway to the Apostolic Palace, discussed next, is one of the most beautiful staircases in the world. The list goes on.

Apostolic Palace Vatican City

Apostolic Palace Vatican City

To the left of the Basilica is the Apostolic Palace, the papal residence sing 1870 that englobes some 1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries. Did I mention the Sistine Chapel? It seems as if an ugly crack emerged in what was to become the world’s most famous ceiling back in 1504. After patchwork proved unsuccessful Pope Julius II called on Michelangelo to cover up the problem area – the solution, a fresco 135 feet long and 44 feet wide (about 42 by 13 meters). As chronicled in Irving Stone’s novel, The Agony and the Ecstasy, things did not go smoothly between Michelangelo and the pope. Does anyone remember Julius II?

On the way to the Sistine Chapel you will pass the Vatican Museum, stop by. It hosts the greatest collection of antiques in the world. There are nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) of displays so you will need roller skates (I never asked if they were allowed) or a lot of time, even if you don’t intend to see everything. This magnificent collection was started by that same Pope, Julius II so maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on him. The sights are many too numerous to list here. Don’t miss the Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms). For a change of pace visit the Carriage and Automobile Museum in the Vatican Historical Museum. As you might expect, the museum is closed on Catholic holidays, so consult a local calendar before coming.

Carriage Vatican Museum

Carriage Vatican Museum

Finish this part of the tour by heading east to the Janiculum Belvedere and Lighthouse for one of the finest views of Rome. The lighthouse was given to Rome in 1911 by Italians living in Argentina. While the view is always beautiful, try to see Janiculum at night. By the way, you won’t have any trouble finding great pubs and restaurants in the cobblestoned streets of this historic part of Rome.

And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Latium or other Italian wines.

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About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.

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