No, this isn’t one of those “I know more than you and I shall now proceed to rub it in” posts. Come on, you know me better than that. You don’t? Well then. That’s awkward. Perhaps this post can help.
Like any serious traveller, I showed up to the Vatican knowing all of two things:
- That it was the smallest country in the world.
- That it housed the Sistine Chapel.
Just kidding. I said “serious traveller”, you guys. That means I did tons of research before visiting! So, among all the visual grandeur, intrigue and art, I also discovered some pretty cool trivia. And I figured it was about time I drew up a list to share it with you. Here goes:
1. The Vatican Has One Of The World’s Best Postal Services
Do you have any siblings who make it their sole mission in life to find out what cool stuff you can bring back for them when you travel? I do. Before I left, I was given strict instructions by my sister (who had conducted a detailed virtual investigation of all the places on my itinerary) to send her a postcard from the Vatican. Mainly so she could test out the ‘World’s Best Postal Service’ claim. As it happened, it rained the day I visited. Not the light drizzle kind. The crazy, thunderstorm kind.
However, I could not let that stop me. Unmet sibling demands can haunt you for the rest of your life, I have learned. So, having donned my so-called raincoat (it was more of a plastic bag than anything else), I convinced my friend to accompany me to the post office. Turned out to be a pretty fun experience, actually. The Vatican even has it’s own postage stamps!
She did get it though, in case you were wondering.
2. The Vatican Has Its Own Euro Coins
Although not a member of the European Union or Eurozone, the Euro is the Vatican’s official currency. It also mints its own Euro coins since 2002. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get my hands on any of these during my time there 🙁 But I did find it pretty fascinating.
3. The Pope Has His Own Army
Bedecked in Renaissance attire, silently manning checkpoints, the members of the Swiss Guard might seem quite harmless but don’t let that fool you. Made up entirely of Swiss citizens (in case that wasn’t obvious from the name) they’re extensively trained and considered to be highly skilled marksmen. You’ll see them around but they won’t interact with you unless you attempt to grab the papal robes or something. I wouldn’t recommend it.
4. You’re Not Allowed To Take Photos Of The Sistine Chapel
As a first time visitor, this came as a surprise to me. While some say that the no-photography rule is in place to prevent the flashes from cameras or camera phones from affecting the art, there’s another (more interesting) story behind it too. You can read that here, if you like.
5. When It Rains At The Vatican You Get To See Umbrellas In All The Colours Imaginable
Yeah, this one isn’t really a thing. Just made it up. Seriously though, it could’ve been a scene from a musical. I almost thought some people would burst out into fancy dance moves any given second as we waited out the rain. Or maybe I was just starved for entertainment. Oh well.
Disclaimer: If you already knew some of this stuff, pliss don’t be throwin’ rotten tomatoes at me for attempting to mislead you. They were all new to me and I thought they might be for you as well. Kthxbye.