Vaticano - a country within a city

Vibe on the street: devout, touristy, bustling.
Famous for: the Vatican, its dome (the highest point in the city) and its museums, which house collections built up by the Catholic Church for centuries. Papal events in St. Peter’s Square.
Vaticano - a country within a city
  • The Vaticano area is heavily religious and even administrative. Though its surrounding streets have bars and restaurants, the joie de vivre of the neighbourhood is inside its walls, whether in church or museums. Looking for a bit of life? St. Peter’s Square during papal events including Sunday masses and Wednesday audience is when it is most happening.

    Nearby sights

    The multi-layered Vatican City is the site to see in this neighbourhood. It is comprised of museums, an excavation site and the largest Roman Catholic church in the world. St. Peter’s Church was built over the course of 122 years. The church contains epic art work including Michelangelo’s very first sculpture, 1498’s Pieta, decorations by Bernini and studio, and several papal tombs, most importantly that of John Paul II. Under the church is a level of papal tombs, each a fragment of history. And underneath that level is a 1st-century BC excavation site known as the Scavi, a coveted visit that requires a reservation made several months in advance. Within the complex are the Vatican Museums - miles of palaces that showcase almost every era of art history. From ancient to contemporary, the Museums are worth the expensive ticket price and are home two of Michelangelo’s masterpieces, the Sistine Ceiling and the Last Judgement.

    At the far end of the neighbourhood is Castel Sant’Angelo, originally Emperor Hadrian’s tomb in the second century and more recently a papal stronghold and hide out.

    Eating out

    The Vaticano area is not known for an accommodating range of restaurants. In fact, most dining spots tend to be the proverbial tourist trap. If you’re in dire need of a bite, the Borgo area has some cute restaurants, pizza al taglio and food shops. However, our advice to you is to head to Trastevere or cross the river.

    Nightlife

    Technically this area has no nightlife unless you are doing a 24-hour novena.

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