A Country within a Country

Credit: Mark Fetters
Mark Fetters/Staff Reporter

After a long four-hour train ride back to Rome and a good nights rest in a hostel that felt like home, I had another big day to finish off my trip in Italy. For this excursion, I would leave the country of Italy and enter the smallest country in the world Vatican City. At the center of it all was St. Peter’s Square, the famous square that you see when they elect the Pope, and everyone gathers to see who was chosen. The balcony in which the pope appears is a part of St. Peter’s Basilica and the most stunning basilica I have visited on my whole trip to Italy.

While entering, you pass one of the many Swiss guards that are there to serve in the Swiss military. The basilica was constructed in 1626 and at the center under the dome is the altar built by Bernini and is said to be the largest bronze piece in the world, at a height of 96 feet. It is easy to see some form of mass going on any day, and when the pope talks up to 80,000 people will fill in to hear his words. For a fee and many narrow and steep stairs later you arrive at the top of the basilica with by the far the most jaw-dropping views. Great pictures can be taken from the square and all of Rome from the top and give you a sense of how large Rome is. Once back on the ground outside, the square was filling up. On Sundays, the Pope gives a mass to all from a window overlooking the square. While the Mass is celebrated in Latin, just being able to see and have a blessing from the highest person in the church is an experience like no other.

With Mass over, my next stop in Vatican City required me to leave the country and enter a different location, the Vatican museum is located behind St. Peter’s Basilica. With enough art to fill up a full two days, I was here to visit the famous Sistine Chapel. Built in 1483, it was painted by Michelangelo with a full story being told on the ceilings. It is a place that makes you say “wow.” The Sistine Chapel is used for electing the new Pope, the college of cardinals come together to elect a new Bishop of Rome, two-thirds vote plus one are required to become the new Pope until the 30th ballot. With the day ending, once last Italian meal was to be had before flying back to Atlanta and preparing for my next adventure.

Credit: Mark Fetters

Credit: Mark Fetters