The Sistine Chapel is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the planet, attracting more than 20,000 visitors a day (or 5 million every year). For some it’s a literal pilgrimage. It’s the most famous chapel in the Apostolic Palace – the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City – and still serves as the site for the Papal Enclave when a new Pope is selected. In fact the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff Pope Francis I was elected there on March 14th 2013.
It’s clearly a place of great importance for Catholics but you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the historical significance, striking architecture and magnificent art on display. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, famously painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is one of the most famous and iconic pieces of art in the world.
Visiting the Vatican
Italy is a diverse country full of numerous attractions and driving in Italy can be a great way to get around. There are many sights to be seen away from the centre of Rome but if you do decide to take a car into the Italian capital you should be prepared for some, shall we say, ‘challenging’ driving conditions.
You should also be aware that large parts of the city centre (Centro Storico) are out of bounds to private cars unless you are a resident or purchase a special (and quite expensive) pass. On-street parking is usually metered and can be hard to find but parking garages are usually fairly easy to find.
With a total area of just 0.17 square miles (0.44 square kilometres), Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. You don’t exactly need a car to get around but car hire will open up a host of nearby attractions, with the added freedom and lack of constraints that driving can bring.
The small town of Tivoli is 18 miles north-east of Rome, with its main attractions being the Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa) and the Villa d’Este. The Castel Gandolfo serves as the Pope’s summer residence and is set amongst the hills of the Colli Albani some 15 miles outside of Rome. Also be sure to visit Lago Bracciano, a picturesque lake filling a volcanic crater in the nearby Sabatini hills.
If you would like to find out more about Italy visit the official Italy Tourism website.
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