“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
At the heart of Rome is the world's smallest sovereign state, with its own post office, spear-wielding Swiss guard, and priceless Michelangelo masterpieces: Vatican City. This is the home of the Catholic Church, where pilgrims from across the globe come to pray under the vast Michelangelo-designed dome of St. Peter's Basilica, and receive blessings from the Pope himself on Sundays at noon in St. Peter's Square. Inside the neighboring Vatican Museums is a parade of wonders that starts with Egyptian mummies and ends 1.2 miles later at the sublime Sistine Chapel, frescoed floor to ceiling by Michelangelo and other Renaissance masters. Though Vatican City is only 0.44 square kilometers, distances between locations often seem vast, especially when looking for a bathroom or a decent pizza. Secular Romans usually avoid the Vatican, except for rare morning museum visits and strolls at sunset, when flocks of starlings form a halo over St Peter's.