When you cross into the Vatican, you have officially left Italy. Vatican City is an independent city-state, with a population of approximately 842 (2014). It has its own armed force, the Swiss Guards, who you will easily recognize in their brightly striped pantaloon uniforms that were supposedly designed by Michelangelo. The Vatican also has its own postal system, which is known to be more reliable than the Italian system.
The main attractions of the Vatican are St. Peter’s Basilica, its piazza, and the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican gardens also make for a pleasurable stroll, especially when the weather is good. The distance between the main attractions can be deceptively large, but there is a shuttle that leaves from the tourist office in St. Peter’s Square. The museums are home to Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, but that is actually the last stop on the tour. You’ll pass through miles of rooms, including works by Raphael, Caravaggio and other masters. If you don’t have time for the full tour, you can follow signs that will take you on a shorter route to the Sistine Chapel.
Address: Via del Governatorato, 00120, Vatican City
Independence from the Kingdom of Italy: February 11, 1929
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