Travel tips you can trust
When to come
and not come
Late spring and early fall are the best times to visit. The weather is pleasant and the Vatican City is not overwhelmed with tour groups.
Avoid crowds by visiting the Vatican City (and especially its Sistine Chapel) when doors first open in the morning.
Expect extra thick crowds throughout the day during the Easter and Christmas periods - and during pontifical blessings, funerals and elections.
The name "Vatican"
The Vatican partially sits on a hill that the Romans called Vaticanus. That's how it derived its name.
The Vatican City (also called the Holy See) is the ecclesiastical and administrative seat of the Roman Catholic Church. It has nearly a billion followers around the world.
Although it is a relatively small enclave lying inside the city limits of Rome, it is completely independent of Rome and Italy.
The Vatican City is the smallest independent nation state in the world in area and population. It is also the richest state on a per capita and per square area basis.
It issues its own postal stamps and has a newspaper.
For 455 years (1523-1978)
all the popes were Italians
That string was broken in 1978 when a Pole, John Paul II, became pope. And, his successor, Benedict XVI, is German. And, his successor, the current pope, Francis, is Argentine.