Facts you didn’t know about the Vatican

Buon Giorno and Happy Easter Monday! The new Pope is elected and Catholics all over the world are celebrating. But did you know these little-known facts about the Vatican?

  • Vatican City is a country with its own sovereignty, passports, bank and, yes, stamps. It’s been a nation since 1929, and is the smallest in the world with only about 800 residents and 0.17 square miles.
  • The special security team that protects the popes is called the Swiss Guard. If you want to join the guard, you have to be between 19-30 years old, male, at least 1.74 meters tall and have been born in Switzerland. They can, however, get married after 3 years of service.
  • The Swiss Guard have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gsp1506
  • The museums contain one of the largest art collections in the world, with over 9 miles of pieces and 1400 rooms.
  • One of our preferred vendors, Tauck, offers an exclusive after-hours Vatican Museums tour. View the remarkable Sistine Chapel, Candelabra Gallery, and tapestries after all the crowds and lines have left for the day. Quite the memorable experience.
  • The day a Pope is elected is considered a holiday during his term in office.
  • Animals are not allowed in the Vatican.
  • The ATMs are in Latin.
  • Every Wednesday morning the Pope holds a Papal Audience and addresses the public in multiple languages. Drop by on this day to receive a holy papal blessing with the crowds!
  • The Church’s Chief Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, claims to have expelled more than 300 demons a year.
  • The Vatican still has the letter from Henry VIII requesting the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which they promptly refused.
  • All the artwork in St. Peter’s Cathedral are mosaics instead of common paintings, ensuring that the beauty of the chapel they would persevere through the ages.
  • Pope Francis is the first pope to come from Latin America.

Thinking of a trip to Italy? Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of Rome or the languid hills of Tuscany? Our agents have been in and around Italy several times and can advise you on air tickets, rail, villa rentals, hotels, and the best time to go! Give us a call at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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