Vatican City: Inside, Barely

Geographically and from a traveler’s perspective, the Vatican City has always been a part of Rome, but thanks to the 1929 Lateran Treaty, this tiny enclave within the Italian capital became the world’s smallest sovereign state. The Vatican City has its own postal stamp, its own radio station, and an army of Swiss guards. But unless you’re keenly aware of your geography, you won’t be aware that once you left the Tiber River’s east bank, you have technically stepped into a different country. It’s no big deal actually, although for those counting their countries, it’s one more tick off the checklist.

The Vatican City may be the world’s smallest nation but it’s definitely no pushover. The UN has granted it a permanent observer status in the UN, while the Pope isn’t just the leader of the state’s sovereignty; he’s the leader of the Catholic Church. And when he speaks, the world listens.

Lack of time and coordination meant that we didn’t get past the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica. After the Colosseum, the hop-on-hop-off-bus next stopped at the Vatican City, where crowds queued up for the church under the sweltering sun. A Filipina tour guide approached us and warned us that those chumps were in for a surprise: there was a special occasion (she didn’t specify) and the church was closed to visitors that day.

So instead, we hanged around under the majestic columns of the square to escape the sun while waiting for another hop-on-hop-off bus, with the intent of returning there the next day.

However, plans got derailed when in the evening we decided to go instead to Pisa. Not all’s lost because shortly after sunset, we had a chance to visit the place once more when the crowds have gone and the place was eerily quiet. I didn’t have a tripod though, so my shots were blurred.

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