Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vatican City - My Study Abroad Backyard

The Conclave put a spotlight on the smallest country in the world, which happens to be inside La Citta Eterna: Vatican City. Although it most definitely blends into the Roman landscape, walls surround it, and foreign countries even have embassies separate from those for Italy.

Residence Candia, the apartment style hotel we stayed in during our program, is about two blocks away from the Vatican's North Wall.

Photo Credit:

St. Peter's Square was the backdrop of many of my Roman adventures. The area around Castel Sant'Angelo, is filled with life into the early morning. My friends and I spent many a night walking down Via della Conciliazione to the river and the castle.

Walking towards St. Peter's on Villa della Conciliazione
As someone who went to Catholic schools for elementary and high school and always heard about Vatican City, it was surreal to see St. Peter's Basilica on a daily basis and casually walk through the square to go out. Since we walked through Holy See almost every day, my study abroad group and I did not visit St. Peter's Basilica or the Vatican Museum until our final days in Rome.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica

Vatican City is beautiful, however, when visiting in the summer it is crowded with tourists. If you are visiting from June through August, prepare for long security lines and heat. Also, all visitors must cover their shoulders and knees.

Courtyard in the Vatican Museum
The Vatican Museum, separate from St. Peter's Basilica is filled with famous artwork, such as Raphael's School of Athens. I took History of European Art before I even thought about applying to study abroad, so it was thrilling to see artwork that I saw in PowerPoint presentations.

The best and worst part of Vatican City is the cupola, the very top of St. Peter's Basilica. Climb thousands of stairs to the top for the best view of Rome. One of my sorority sisters and I paid extra to take an elevator halfway up, which was totally worth it. The climb we did was painful, but once you get to the top, it is amazing to see the entire Eternal City. Unfortunately, if you are claustrophobic or cannot climb stairs, this is probably not a good idea.


The media coverage of the Vatican over the past few weeks brought back a lot of memories of living, studying and playing in one of the most historic parts of the modern world. It was thrilling to see so many people in what I felt was our "backyard" while in Italy.

Screen grab from live stream

Aguri a Papa Francesco I!

Vatican Tourism Resources:

Vatican Museum
St. Peter's Basilica/Cupola

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