We all agree there are plenty of reasons why one should visit Vatican City, here are some usual & unusual ones:
- It is the smallest country in the world by area (only 0.44 sq. km.) and population (less than 1000). For me, that kind of superlative is reason enough to go someplace, don’t you agree?
- It is right next to or rather surrounded on all sides by the lovely Rome, which makes it both easy to and silly not to visit if you are already in Rome. Everybody should go to Rome, but more about that in other posts 😉
- If you enjoy watching people and observing crowds, this is your heaven. Disregarding the size of this tiny nation millions of tourists from around the globe flock here – the Vatican Museum alone welcomes about 1.5 million each year.
- Even if you are not a religious person keen on a pilgrimage to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, you’d want to take a look at the great works of art by giants like Michelangelo, Bernini, Botticelli and other Renaissance artists housed within and upon the walls of the vast St. Peter’s Basilica, Apostolic Palace and Sistine Chapel. There is no joy like spending hours walking through immense collections of art, sculpture and history, is there?
- Vatican City is also unique in that it is the only country that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in entirety. Incidentally, neighboring (or surrounding) Italy is the country with the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the current number being 53. Obviously, all that art and history that makes it a valuable center worth conserving for posterity to observe, enjoy & learn from.
Have you been to Vatican City? What were your reasons to visit?
If you need a little break from the hordes of tourists in Venice, a welcome side trip could be the neighbouring islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, all a short boat ride away. Mr.A and I made our way to Murano on a vaporetti earlier this spring. This is Venice’s little sister, just as pretty but smaller and cosier. You will still enjoy circuitous canals with boats bobbing past and bridges crisscrossing, old crumbling houses rising right out of the water, charming window boxes overhung with fresh blossoms, and of course, a quintessential display of Murano glass everywhere.
Famous for using ancient glassforming techniques refined over the centuries, Murano remains a major player in the glass making industry. Incidentally, glass factories were moved to Murano in the 1200’s so that the risk of fires in Venice could be mitigated. Today, Murano not only remains a major exporter of glass goods, but is also an attraction for curious tourists who can enjoy visits to glass museums, excursions around factories that show you how it’s all done, and lots of shopping opportunities, from dainty earrings to gigantic chandeliers, and everything else in between.
Burano, on the other hand, is known for its lace, intricately woven by hand, another tradition nurtured over a hundred and more years. But no matter where you end up for a quieter day away from the bustle of Venice, as everywhere else in Italy, you’ll always find plenty of sunshine, a fine scoop of gelato and a good bowl of pasta close at hand 🙂
My ever thirsty wanderlust has brought me to Venice, Italy this weekend. It’s true there’s no place like Venice! Where are you headed?
The new year brings forth reflections & plans. Here is my travel checklist for last year & I’ll soon post about my plans for 2016 🙂
Öland, Sweden : Last spring, Mr.A & I went on a fantastic road trip with some friends to the island of Öland in the south-west of Sweden. Sometimes one enjoys the journey more than the destination. But in this case, we loved both equally. We rented a van so we could all be in the same vehicle. It made the trip more fun, we went along singing songs and playing games. The island itself, including our quaint little cottage was super cozy & cute. We drove around the sights most of the time but also rented bikes one afternoon. It was great timing too, since spring was just creeping up and everything felt bright & cheerful.
Faro, Portugal : We were simply ecstatic to be part of a beautiful destination wedding in Faro. A Lebanese friend got married to his lovely Jamaican bride. We had been to Lisbon & Porto in December the year before and we jumped at the opportunity to visit Portugal once more. I’ve posted pictures from Faro at least thrice on Sunny District! It was a fantastic event with dinner at a seaside restaurant, touching speeches, setting of sky lanterns to with the newly weds, and then a crazy night of partying hard & dancing harder! Mr.A and I hung out for a few more days and went around Portugal’s heavenly Algarve region which boasts of serene beaches spotted with marshlands and islands. We took a boat ride to see the famous desert island, Ilha Deserta, and walked around the perimeter. On another boat trip we visited the Benagil Sea Cave. This cave is often included in lists of natural wonders around the world. The sea flows right into the cave and the high ceiling even lets boats drive in during low tide. What a perfect way to end the ride!
Cinque Terrre, Lucca & Florence, Italy : In the summer my sister & her husband visited us from India, and being the history buffs that those two are, they had to visit the must-dos for all lovers of history, Rome and Florence. Mr.A and I had been to Rome before, but we joined them on the rest of the vacation travelling through Tuscany. We started with Lucca, a medieval town known to have retained its medieval city wall. We rented bikes over the wall and visited several old structures. We rented the prettiest apartment ever, it was so old and artistically done up, we fell so in love with it, we didn’t want to leave! Then we headed to Cinque Terre, that stunning cluster of towns along the Italian Riviera. Oh so beautiful! Sea, breeze, sun, food and wine, all of it was to die for. Next stop was Florence, which was another awesome place where we learnt an enormous amount about the Renaissance history, art & culture.
Gothenburg, Sweden : Sweden’s second biggest city after Stockholm is Gothenburg, or Göteborg in Swedish. This was a work trip but the office & hotel were quite centrally located and add to it the long summer days, I had enough time to check out the main sights. My colleague said let’s do the Paddan, the quintessential guided tour of Gothenburg by boat. Best suggestion ever. The guide on board had a funny commentary about the history of the city & the monuments or buildings that we passed. The boat glides under many bridges along the tour, some of them so low during a high tide that we had to duck our heads by getting off our seats and crouching on the floor! Definitely a ride to remember 🙂
French Riviera, France : We took off on Mr.A’s birthday again. Seems to be becoming a tradition, this November getaway of ours, but I’m not one to complain! French Riviera. We hired a car and saw some lovely places along the way… Nice, Monaco, Cannes, Eze, Antibes, St. Paul de Vence, Grasse… all so charming… promenades along the sea, villages in the hills, artisans’ workshops, painters’ ateliers, racing circuits, perfumeries… we could have stayed on forever.
A wonderful year indeed! Do tell me how yours went.