Michelangelo is so closely associated with Florence – he’s one of the city’s most famous sons – but when you visit Vatican City you’ll hear his name mentioned repeatedly. Some of the Italian master’s greatest works, in fact, are inside the borders of the world’s smallest independent nation. And, since it’s small, you don’t have to go far to see all of it. Here’s an overview of where to look for Michelangelo in Vatican City.
Vatican City may be made up largely of the type of gardens you might expect at a vacation villa, but the pope has a summer residence, too. It’s called the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo in the town of Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles outside Rome. Like other Vatican buildings, the grounds of the palace are considered Vatican property – but there’s a town outside the palace that you might find worthy of a visit as well.
In many churches, the floors and walls serve as tombs for important citizens. Look around and you’ll see grave markers that you might just be walking over. In St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, however, most of the tombs are prominent sculptural features in the church.
The imposing and circular Castel Sant’Angelo sits on the Vatican side of the Tiber River, at one end of the aptly-named Ponte Sant’Angelo. It’s technically not within Vatican boundaries, but this building is tied to the Vatican in more than one way.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in Christendom, and chances are very good that it’s on your must-see list when you’re in Rome even if you’re neither Catholic or an art aficionado. For all the other superlatives you can use to describe this great church, however, you can’t overlook the incredible collection of art contained in its chapels.
One of the highlights of a visit to Vatican City is seeing the Pope during his weekly papal audience. You can mill around at the back of St. Peter’s Square, scanning for the little white dot thta is the Pope at the front of the huge crowd, or you can plan ahead – because that’s absolutely a must in this case – and get tickets to a papal audience during your Vatican City trip.
When you’re visiting Rome, it’s a good idea to set aside essentially a whole day to spend in Vatican City. Unfortunately, despite being called a “city,” the Vatican doesn’t really have its own selection of great restaurants to choose from when you’re ready for your lunch break. Luckily, Rome does – including lots of good options in the neighborhoods surrounding Vatican City.
You’re probably familiar with the enormous St. Peter’s Basilica and the sprawling Vatican Museums buildings in Vatican City, but neither one of those structures includes a place for the Pope to live. Instead, the Pope’s grand apartments are in an historic building that overlooks St. Peter’s Square, called the Apostolic Palace.
Sometimes on vacation in a foreign country you just want to blend in – avoid cultural faux pas, get the “local” price, and not look like a target for pickpockets. And in some places it’s exactly the opposite, when being a VIP makes all the difference. A trip to the always-popular and almost-always-crowded Vatican City is just one of those places.