Also called | The Holy See
Capital | Vatican City
Population | 826
Area | 0.44 SQ KM
Official Language | Latin, Italian
Holidays | Election Day of Pope BENEDICT XVI, 19 April (2005)
Independence | 11 February 1929 (from Italy); note - the three treaties signed with Italy on 11 February 1929 acknowledged, among other things, the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent; however, the origin of the Papal States, which over the years have varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to the 8th century
Currency | Euro (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC +1
Best Time to Visit | April to June (the low season) or on Wednesday, when the Pope meets his flock.
Connecting with the Culture | Craning your neck to see all of Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Checking out the Swiss Guard in their traditional uniforms. Climbing to the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica on a clear day. Tracking down the works of Bernini, Michaelangelo and Rafael in the Vatican palaces and museums. Rubbing the foot of St. Peter – worn down over the centures – for luck.
Read | Robert J. Hutchinson’s When in Rome: A Journal of Life in the Vatican City for an in depth look at Vatican nitty gritty.
Watch | Inside the Vatican, a National Geographic documentary giving detailed insight in the Holy See; The Scarlet and the Black, starring Gregory Peck, is based on a true story of Vatican official, Father O’Flahery, who hid POW’s during WWII.
Eat | Roman specialties such as the pasta favorites carbonara (egg yolk, cheese and bacon) and alla matriciana (tomato, bacon and ground meat)
Drink | local wines
In a Word | Silenzio (silence)
Characteristics | Arias and sermons; Catholic masses; nuns on the run; your favorite saint produced as a tacky plastic souvenir; priceless artwork everywhere you look.
Surprises | It’s easy to lose a whole day at the museum; the Swiss Guard do take their job (and their uniforms) very seriously, you will be turned away if you are not dressed modestly.